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“This is Marketing,” by Seth Godin

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

 

Full title: This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See

Number of pages: 288

Year published: 2018

Who it’s for:  Those looking for clear, accessible advice on modern marketing, as well as anyone who wants to learn a little about best marketing practices.

The big idea: Traditional marketing was all about creating a product first and then looking for as many customers to sell it to as possible. Being successful in marketing today is about focusing on the client and solving her problems using empathy, connection, and emotional labor. To achieve that, the products and services we offer need to be truly remarkable. Marketing, Godin claims, is about creating change for the better.

5 things worth learning:

  1. Your company or product is not for everyone. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, focus on “the smallest viable audience,” or how Godin describes it, “people like us doing things like this.” Mass marketing creates products that are mediocre. But this approach is no longer feasible. You need to instead focus on doing “work that matters for people who care,” or in other words, your tribe or niche.
  2. Authenticity is a myth. Godin claims that authenticity as an impulse is hardly a way to run a business. Or, in his own words, “If the authentic you is a selfish a jerk, please leave him at home.” Instead, consistency is key. Showing up as a professional and performing emotional labor (which he defines as “The work of doing what we don’t necessarily feel like doing, the work of engaging with others in a way that leads to the best long-term outcome), is what good marketing is all about.
  3. Status roles are everything. Godin writes a lot about status roles and how humans are so attuned to their place in society.  There are two ways to measure status: dominion and affiliation. The former is to be acutely aware of who sits where and at which table, who has more followers than you. But if you’re planning to affiliate, you’ll start thinking differently and ask very different questions, such as: “Who here knows me?” or “Can’t we all get along?” According to Godin status drives nearly everything we do. As a marketer, you need to ask the question: how is your audience measuring status? By dominion or affiliation? And then act accordingly.
  4. Effective selling is all about creating and releasing tension. According to Godin, marketing is about creating change in people. It could be as simple as causing them to switch to a different brand or as big as transforming the way they think about themselves. But if you want change to happen, you start by making a promise, such as “we can provide you with a sense of safety and belonging.” And such promises create tension in the potential customer, forcing her to think about your product and whether or not she wants to buy it. Most of the time, she won’t, as it’s a risk for her to do so. But if moving forward with purchasing your products or services will help release that tension, by creating positive and lasting change in the client, she will go for it.
  5. Trust is scarce. Use it well. Gone are the days when you could market to people without their permission. Trust has become as scarce of a resource as time and attention. You can’t start approaching potential clients by boasting about all the benefits your product has to offer. Instead, you need to listen to people, connect with them, and learn from them. And only then, after you’ve earned their trust and proven yourself to be an invaluable resource, can you tell them about the product or service you’re offering.

Quote it: “Marketing is the act of making change happen. Making is insufficient. You haven’t made an impact until you’ve changed someone.”

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