Seth Godin Says Marketers Are Doing it All Wrong – Are You?

Seth Godin Advice

In his interview with Inc., Seth Godin pointed out quite a few fallacies about current marketing approaches and efforts. His advice is insightful and practical, but nonetheless not always easy to quickly understand from the business and marketing perspective.  In order to follow his advice, you may have to revise your entire marketing story – which is exactly the kind of metaphor Godin would approve of.

1. You Don’t Decide What the Market Needs or Wants.  The Market Tells you.

It is a fact indeed that 99.9% of companies approach to marketing or selling anything is to either create a desire for something they made, or to establish superiority over other brands. Entrepreneur X says “I’m really passionate about toilet seats.  I’ve made these awesome cooling/heated toilet seats, and I’m gonna get everyone to buy them.”  Typically, marketing just about anything is done from a selfish perspective and approach.  It’s pretty much how nearly all marketing efforts are done. According to Godin, that’s totally wrong.  Instead, companies and individual entrepreneurs should learn how to make - and what - the market wants.  If you’re an entrepreneur that capitalises on something just because you happen to be passionate about it, or a company that throws something at the market just to make more money – Godin says you’re doing it wrong.  Create or produce what the market tells you to.  The next tip gives you a little bit of direction.

2.  Market Things That are Better When Everyone has one.

Things like phones – whether landline or cellular – only serve their purpose when everyone has one.  You can’t call someone who doesn’t have a phone.  Email addresses, bicycle lanes, vaccinations, cars – these are all things or ideas that work better the more there are, or when everyone has one. The network effect has powerful results, and will naturally propel an idea that works better when it is spread.

3. Don’t Market to the Masses.  Market as part of a Commitment.

In other words, the “masses” don’t care about your brand when they “like” it.  They share a brand’s page or “like” a product because it represents something about who they are as a person.  A high school basketball player doesn’t put up a pair of Nike sneakers on his Facebook page because he really cares about spreading the Nike brand.  He’s saying, “I’m a baller; this is what I wear as a baller.”  Instead of trying – or maybe even already believing – that consumers care about your brand, make a commitment to yourself to change their minds.  Give meaning to your brand, give it an appeal that goes beyond mere fulfillment of a (created) desire.

4. Stop Thinking you (marketers) are Supposed to buy Attention.

This doesn’t mean that attention isn’t valuable, or that it can’t be purchased.  It does mean, however, that just because a business pays for a billboard ad or a 30 second commercial, that they will get the attention they want – or any attention at all for that matter.  Furthermore, the point is really about what a marketer’s job is - and it is not to buy attention, or to continue to spend money to get more sets of eyes focused on them.  According to Godin, not only is this the biggest mistake made by marketers, but it’s that will inevitably lead to failure.

Obviously, these are all parts to an unselfish “You, Not ME” marketing approach.  The idea is to tell a story with what you want to market, and to connect to those who want to be connected to, through your products, ideas, concepts or services.  Create value and meaning – not just in what you are marketing, but in how you market it.  Humility and less ego-centricity are sort of essential for this kind of marketing approach, and Godin said it himself: most marketers do not have the humility required for it.  Do you?