Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Lesson #307: Marketing Wisdom from Seth Godin

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/23/2019


& Comment

I recently attended the annual Internet Summit in Raleigh and had the pleasure of hearing their keynote speaker, Seth Godin, share his marketing wisdom with the hundreds of eager listeners in attendance.  If you don't know Seth, he is an entrepreneur (founded Squidoo and Yoyodyne), blogger, best-selling author of 18 books and a member of the Marketing Hall of Fame.  So, when it comes to marketing, you can rest assured Seth knows what he is talking about and you need to listen.

His presentation at the Internet Summit was more of a Q&A format with the audience.  So, it was a little random in terms of the topics discussed.  But, there were some juicy nuggets worth sharing with all of you.  Here were the highlights, paraphrased as best as I could remember it.


You want to be building a business that people are talking about at the water cooler; a business that offers the customer "status" for being associated with it and "satisfaction" for solving a real pain point.  He gave the example of people taking out their mobile phones, opening their Uber app for the first time and telling the person next to them to "watch this", as the app summons a car on demand.  The more people that are positively talking about your product, the more free word-of-mouth marketing support you will get.


The mistake that many companies make is trying to be all things to all people, going after as large a mass audience as possible with their marketing message.  Seth thinks that is a huge mistake, especially for early-stage businesses. You need to focus on one niche, smallest-viable audience and "own it".  Serve it better than all others in that space, while "shunning the non-believers".  And, make sure you are preaching your gospel to the right audience, where your message will most resonate.  Seth gave the example of an English speaking comedian would have little success telling jokes to a room full of Italian speaking attendees that wouldn't understand the jokes.


The best way to close a sale is to create trust.  And trust is often a major hurdle in low-trust industries.  Seth gave an example of him personally hiring an HVAC firm to repair his home, having to decides between dozens of options, unclear on who is the best at their trade.  He didn't care that a vendor may have had a higher price, when he saw the names and phone numbers of all his nearby neighbors (that he trusted), listed is references for the business.  That is all he needed to see; if his neighbors were happy with the service, there are high odds he will also be happy with the service.  So, you want to give great service, to get all your customers singing your praises, and serving as references for others.


Most sales processes create "tension" for the buyer.  Maybe your product will create work for them, or is a risky proposition for their business, or will make them look bad to their boss, or whatever.  And, the bigger the company is, the more tension there will be, with many more decision makers involved in the process and higher levels of bureaucracy.  You need to remove that tension right from the beginning.  You need to share insights and case studies that will calm them, and instill confidence in them that they are making the right decision to move forward with you, despite all the potential perceived hurdles.


Many companies have their marketing teams managed separately from their sales teams, oftentimes pointing fingers at each other when things go wrong, or when there is work to be done.  Seth believes this is a huge mistake.  Marketing and sales needs to be managed together in one department, as they truly feed each other as one well-oiled machine that feeds and learns from each other.


The quality of your team is everything, and you want to hire the best team possible.  Which isn't always easy in a tight job market like today.   Seth gave the example of Intel empowering their employees to hire every smart person they met while doing business with other companies, with the message "you are hired with a 10% raise over your current salary" on the spot--no need to interview, no need to worry about compensation, we love you that much.  Seth also gave the example of him putting a $40,000 full page recruiting ad in the New York Times, where people thought he was crazy.  But, the ad stood out from the clutter of normal job postings, was talked about in the media, and attracted tons of great talent that made the investment entirely worth it.  So, think out of the box in your hiring methods.


In most marketing departments, the team believe they can measure and optimize their direct response marketing activities, but they can't and don't measure their branding activities. Seth believes that all efforts inside the marketing department need to be measured and optimized, including branding.  So, refuse to believe branding is unmeasurable, and create the right metrics to ensure your branding efforts are hitting your desired targets.  In today's digitally-centric marketing world, everything can be measured and optimized.

Hopefully, you agree there were some great insights here that can be applied to all of your businesses.  Thanks to the Internet Summit and to Seth Godin for your inspiration to me in writing this post.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

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