This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See

This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn To See
Author: Seth Godin
Publisher: Portfolio
Published: 11/13/2018
Real marketing isn't about racking up clicks and tweets; it's about connection, empathy, and making a difference. Over the past quarter century, Seth Godin has taught and inspired millions of entrepreneurs, marketers, leaders, and fans from all walks of life, via his blog, online courses, lectures, and bestselling books. He is the inventor of countless ideas and phrases that have made their way into mainstream business language, from Permission Marketing to Purple Cow to Tribes…

Book Summary - This is Marketing by Seth Godin

Key Insights

In This Is Marketing, Seth Godin argues that we need a more philosophical approach to marketing. To do marketing well, Godin recommends identifying the smallest “viable product”, identifying your goals, gaining “permission to engage” and telling the right story.

Today, marketing and advertising are not the same. Before marketers primarily used commercials on television and radio, billboards and print advertisements to gain people's attention. Traditional advertising no longer makes sense, especially with the Internet, which is fragmented because of the many channels such as curated Youtube feeds. Online advertising is usually ignored because there is too much of it. Many companies use SEO to market their products but it’s hard to get SEO right and most Google searches yield many pages of results. That is why a different approach, where the marketer needs to learn how to create engaged customers, to marketing is needed.

Key Points

According to Godin, there are five steps to marketing

The first step is to create a worthwhile product with an effective story.

The second step is to design a product that appeals to a small viable audience that shares a similar world view

The third step is to tell a story that satisfies your audience's underlying desires.

The fourth step is to spread the word about your product.

The last step is to keep improving and promoting the business even if the business doesn't catch on after release. For some products, only by delivering on promises for years did they catch on and change the marketplace.

Your marketing promise might follow the template:
My product is for people who believe _________________.
I will focus on people who want _________________.
I promise that engaging with what I make will help you get _________________.

Marketing should help people live their best lives by making a worthwhile product. People are not always rational and do not always make sensible decisions. Effective marketing understands people’s underlying needs and desires, which often boil down to their need for status, validation, and connectedness.

To create an engaging campaign that caters to the right people, marketing should first try to understand who and what their product is for. According to Godin, effective marketing promotes a small group of people that shares a similar worldview and tries to satisfy their needs and desires. Focus on one specific problem for a specific type of person. Once you have that problem and audience, make that your business’ primary goal. Use psychographics, grouping customers based o their beliefs, to find the smallest viable audience for your business. If you can’t find the smallest viable audience, how will you market to a larger audience? Over time, you will improve at solving these problems, word will spread and your products and services will get more popular.

Appeal to the stories that people tell themselves. Understand people’s views and intercept the internal conversation your fans are having.

People care about their status and that influences the decisions they make. People care about affiliation and domination. Affiliation seekers want to work well together and become people that others can trust. While domination seekers gravitate towards power and victory. Companies should craft their stories around these qualities. For example, Uber usually opposes local governments and competitors.

Differentiate from your competitors by crafting a unique story that focuses on the change that you are trying to make and that builds on what your targeted audience already believes and what they want for the future.

Asking people to do things that are new, such as trying new software, creates tension. However, the fear of missing out drives customer behaviors and pushes them to try new things, such as moving from MySpace to Facebook.

Network effects that start with your initial fan base help you gain traction. As more people use your product, it becomes more useful. For example, a small group of people started using Slack. When they started spreading the word, more people started using it and it got to the point where even the people who resisted change adapted to Slack because they did not want to miss out.

The Grateful Dead, a band with one Billboard hit, appealed to a small group of fans who spread the word and helped it become a phenomenon.

While many people resist change, Neophiliacs love discovering new things. They are important to your company because they can spread the word about your product. Give them the opportunity and resources to do so.

Business plans should have five sections:

  • Truth - Inform about the assumptions that form the basis of your business. Define the market, competitors, opportunities, technical specifications, and history of successes and failures
  • Assertions section - How will you satisfy the needs and desires of the market, bring change, and affect people’s lives
  • People section - Talk about your team
  • Money section - What are you looking for in terms of investment? Estimate how much you will spend and how much profit and loss you will make.
  • Alternatives section - Offer strategies on reacting to errors and inaccurate projections.

The Main Take-away

The Internet was a game-changer. Marketing can no longer rely on advertising alone. Effective marketing should focus on a small group of viable people, identify their needs and desires, build a product that satisfies these needs, and tell a story that invigorates a fan base willing to spread the word. The best marketing speaks to the narratives your audience tells themselves about status and affiliation. To create something worth buying, choose an underlying human desire, and satisfy it. Be mindful of tensions and network effects to help your product gain traction.

About the Author

Seth Godin is an American author and dot com, business executive. He is the founder of Seth Godin Productions, a book packaging business, which he sold to his employees to focus on his next startup. He and Mark Hurst then founded Yoyodyne, where he promoted the concept of permission marketing. He sold Yoyodyne to Yahoo for about $30 million and became Yahoo’s vice president of direct marketing. In 2006, he launched Squidoo, one of the 500 most visited sites in the world. He eventually sold Squidoo to HubPages. He graduated from Tufts University and Stanford.


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