The guru of marketing is Seth Godin. He’s done more innovative marketing than most Fortune 500 departments combined and can explain the art of marketing better than anyone I know or have read. In Godin’s view marketing is much more about an approach to life rather than a department in a business (which is the norm). In fact, as Godin preaches, business is more a lifestyle (as in a way of living) than about maximizing money. Money will flow from a finely-tuned approach to life. Your job as a businessperson is to navigate a thousand tradeoffs in the rugged terrain of reality in order to tune your enterprise to maximize learning, difference, and value to others. If you succeed, the process will also produce money. The art of perceiving and managing these tradeoffs (niche of 1 vs niche of 1000? ) is marketing. It is not about advertising.
Godin is a prolific writer. Some of his best advice flows in a river from his daily blog. A distilled version of his messages can be found in the essential three of his many books: Purple Cow, Free Prize Inside and All Marketers are Liars. One thing I really like about Godin’s work is that it is technology independent. He embraces all that social media does (before it materialized) without getting stuck in the minutia of any technology. Read any of his books and blog and you’ll be ahead of this rapidly advancing curve.
From Purple Cow:
Stop advertising and start innovating.
Imagine how cool Pop Tarts would be if the brand manager was the sort of person who ate them for dinner.
Before you spend another dollar on another brain-dead ad campaign, trade show, or sales conference, spend some time with your engineers and your customers. Challenge your people to start with a blank sheet of paper and figure out what they’d do if they could do just about anything. If they weren’t afraid of failing, what’s the most audacious thing they’d try?
Remarkable isn’t always about changing the biggest machine in your factory. It can be the way you answer the phone, launch a new brand, or price a revision to your software. Getting in the habit of doing the “unsafe” thing every time you have the opportunity is the best way to learn to project–you get practice at seeing what’s working and what’s not.
From All Marketers Are Liars:
There are only two things that separate success from failure in most organizations today:
1. Invent stuff worth talking about.
2. Tell stories about what you’ve invented.
Make up great stories. that’s the new motto.
People are superstitious about whatever it is you’re marketing. You can ignore that superstition or you can rail against it, but both strategies will cost you. The alternative is the only one that works: use personal interactions that are so extraordinary and so powerful that they cause people to tell themselves a different story instead.
If a consumer has a lousy telephone experience with a hotel reservations agent, his impulse will be to hate the service from every person he interacts with when he finally arrives at the hotel. The only solution? It’s not expensive carpeting, lower rates or a better mattress. The only solution is a warm, personal interaction between an authentic and caring individual and your disgruntled customer.
Facts are not the most powerful antidote to superstition. Powerful, authentic personal interaction is. That’s why candidates still need to shake hands and why retail outlets didn’t disappear after the success of Amazon.