(Breather) After my great interview with Seth, I offer some further reflections about the breakthrough insights in his recent book, This Is Marketing.
This show is a bit of a departure from the podcast theme of health, fitness, peak performance, happiness, and longevity subject matter, but it can provide valuable insights for how you can best make an economic contribution in most careers, and how to be a healthy, strategic consumer instead of succumbing to marketing manipulation.
Seth’s premise is that we are in the middle of a shift from the dated old-time marketing-driven economy to a market-driven economy. In the old-time vertical economy, consumers had few choices (only 3 TV channels, the comparatively few books on the shelf at the bookstore, the morning newspaper or weekly news magazine, etc.) The corporate giants of old subjected us to aggressive, manipulative marketing messages trying to get us to buy their offerings. Today, consumers have massive choice and freedom and are one click away from a lower price and better service. Seth says the “race to the bottom” (who can be more aggressive, slick and clever to extract a purchase) was worth winning in the old days, but not anymore. Today we are obligated to listen to the hopes and needs and dreams of the market we wish to serve—a market-driven economy. Instead of trying for bigger numbers and broader territories, Seth argues persuasively that you are better off focusing on the “smallest viable audience.” Offer them a breakthrough product or service that establishes you as the single best resource to meet your customer’s hopes and dreams.
I offer examples of the changing dynamics of the real estate broker, who used to provide privileged information as their main value. Today, with Zillow and the rest giving everyone the same information, realtors are obligated to raise their game to something different. They must meet the emotional needs of the client by engaging their hopes and dreams. Seth calls this the “difficult work we signed up for.” He distinguishes it from the hustle of trying to fill a market niche, which will leave you constantly in fear, driven by scarcity, looking in the rear-view mirror at the competition. Relatedly, touting your honest, reliable, high-quality product or service is pretty much ridiculous these days, because these things are assumed and expected.
Seth Godin’s book This is Marketing transforms our thinking about marketing. [04:05]
There are five steps to effective marketing. [07:24]
We must understand the irrational forces that drive us. [09:03]
When in doubt, assume people will act according to their current irrational urges. [11:24]
Serve the smallest viable market. [16:55]
With a new marketplace with tremendous consumer choice and freedom, we must be different. [20:09]
Authenticity is overrated. [22:56]
- “When in doubt, assume people will act according to their current irrational urges.”
- “You are not expected or welcome to bring us every one of your insecurities, innermost fears, and urgent demands.”
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Brad: 00:08 Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author and athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit and happy in hectic, high stress modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge and expertly balanced that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.
Brad: 01:28 When in doubt, that’s film. People will act according to their current irrational urges, ignoring information that runs counter to their beliefs, trading long term for short term benefit and most of all being influenced by the culture they identify with. How about gym membership? I know they still do this where you want to go in and check the place out for the first time. You want to get path at the front desk and go wander around and see what it’s like. But instead they have to give you a guided tour and then pull you into a little room and try to get you to sign up for a year’s membership. Or if you kind up for two years right now, we’ll pull it right out of your bank account. No worries. And we’ll waive the initiation fee, pressure, pressure, pressure. Oh, and by the way just delivering quality, if not enough. Quality that expected that when you go by the bus bench and the real estate broker has the methods thing, a quality and service you can trust, it’s like, Huh, yeah. As opposed to stuff I can’t trust. I mean, what are you saying? Of course there’s, of course there’s the trustworthy, high quality you’re doing with the biggest transaction in someone’s life.
Brad: 04:05 How about that title? Insights about marketing and peak performance and productivity from Seth Godin. I’m just fresh off my wonderful conversation with him. What a privilege to engage with one of the leading thought influencers in the world. You got to go read his blog every single day. He’ll send you an email with the blog post. Very short and always thought provoking. Some of the blog posts had been life changing for me honestly, so I want it to get into it a little bit more and go through some of the insights from his new best selling book called This is Marketing. His goal with the book was to transform our thinking about marketing. And I think so far it’s doing a good job. It’s the word is getting spread around. A lot of people are coming up with similar insights about how the new economy is transforming from that old days. Maybe your young listeners don’t even remember when we only had three network television channels, not much more to choose from.
Brad: 05:03 Uh, we’d go to the bookstore and buy books and there were the only books available were the ones on the shelves and the bookstore, which is probably one 100th of what you can find now on Amazon. Seth even indicated that the, uh, book publishing per year is a million titles per year are now published and back 20 years ago when he wrote his first book. Uh, let’s see, that was about 25 years ago. I wrote my first book. He indicated there was about 50,000 books a year being published. So huge differences in so many ways. And now we have what people call the flat economy, where we have all kinds of choices from numerous providers rather than succumbing to manipulative marketing messages getting shoved down our throats, such as TV commercials. Back in the old days when you were pretty much forced to watch them on the only three channels you could watch and the many other intrusions that still persist today, like the spam emails or the Robo calls. Oh my gosh, the world’s changing. Get ready.
Brad: 06:01 And that’s what Seth’s all about, is analyzing and helping us guide us through the next chapter in humanity. So the back cover of the book describes what it’s about. And if you’re not in marketing and don’t give a crap about marketing, let it be known that everything we’re doing all the time can be defined as marketing. Whatever job you’re doing, a whatever message you’re trying to spread in the world. Uh, with family friends, it’s all about marketing, man. Uh, but the message here is that, uh, today brings an opportunity to bring work you care about, to people eager to engage with it, pay you for it and talk about it. I believe the only way to make a difference is to truly see and understand the people you seek to influence. Can you understand the difference between uh, grabbing people and shoving a message down their throat to get them to buy Air Jordan’s or whatever you’ve been selling perfume for the last 50 years. Big changes. So back to the description, once you’re fully engaged, they will be happy to help you spread the word. If you serve that audience. This book will change the questions you ask, the things you noticed and most of all the work you’re able to do it. It will help you make things better by making better things. Your work matters. Make a ruckus that’s Seth’s tag line. He offered that up at the end of the podcast too.
Brad: 07:24 So getting into the book, I pulled out some things that I think will be of interest to all of us because we’re all consumers, right? And a lot of us are producers or we’re marketing something in some way. So here are the five steps to effective marketing these days. Number one is invent something worth making. Number two is design and build. For a select few to benefit from a select few telling your story to the smallest viable market. That’s so interesting because it runs counter to trying to grow your social media following and get bigger numbers and expand your territories and all those things that in a lot of case studies turns out to be a big failure and it’s going to be continuing to be more and more ineffective as people get smarter and have more choice. Uh, so you’re telling your story to the smallest viable market. Number four is spread the word. That’s the fun part. And of course you still are obligated to spread the word, but you’re getting the help. You’re engaging, you’re following. The other viral article that a lot of peak performers, entrepreneurs references this concept of 1000 true fans. And so a really successful business, uh, all it needs at his core is a thousand true fans. And then things become viral in certain cases or you serve the smallest viable market based on what you’re offering. And then number five, show up regularly and generously. And I know you can these insights into all other areas of life besides just marketing a product or service in the economy.
Brad: 09:03 Okay, so some comments from the book, we must understand the irrational forces that drive us. So here on the consumer side, realize how subjected you are to the ridiculous ads, especially for things like a perfume, cars and beer. Those are my examples of how we really get exploited a, but in the exploiting nature of these ads, we get an insight about what all marketing, uh, is doing is they’re trying to sell the feeling or the sensation rather than the actual product. So if you drink this beer, it’s not because of the flavor of the beer, because beer is all tastes pretty similar. Or the ones that are doing the big commercials probably aren’t as good as the lovely craft beers that you are a connoisseur of. But if you drink this beer, you’ll get more chicks. Same with buying this cool car, you’ll have a rugged ride along the dirt road as you see in the commercial. But mainly it’s how you feel that increase in status that you get from buying these goods. Uh, Seth gives the example of dog food where he bought some expensive food for his dog, but, uh, as far as he knows, no dog in the world has ever reported back with feedback about whether they liked the new product. So really you’re buying dog food for how it makes you feel as the owner, that you’re a wonderful caring pet owner because you bust your bank on expensive food. Uh, so when you’re in the marketing seat, you have to ask yourself, who is it for and what’s it for? And you want to give people a sense of belonging, connection, peace of mind, status, and other desired emotions.
Brad: 10:44 This is the shift from an economy that is marketing driven to economy that’s market driven. Uh, he talks about this at the start of his show too. But, uh, generally what that means is marketing driven is where people are getting more and more clever with their advertising messages to lure you in to buy this perfume. So you’ll be as beautiful as the model who’s modeling the perfume. And market driven is people are demanding certain things. They’re very discriminating consumers. And so the market is controlling or dictating a what the products are all about, what the services and products are all about.
Brad: 11:24 What’s super interesting about this is it flips on its ear. The founding premise of micro economics. I was an economics major in college and we learned the details of how the free market works. It was a fascinating major. Uh, everyone has a basic understanding, I believe, but when you’re talking about economic theory, you are making this assumption that the consumer is taking into account all information, probabilities of events, potential costs, benefits, and consistently choosing the best course of action. That’s econ one right there, supply and demand. If the price goes down, the demand goes up, uh, etc. And this, uh, founding premise is now been totally replaced by Seth and his blogging and his insights about the new economy. Uh, here’s a direct quote. I’m paraphrasing his message throughout here, but I’m also adding my color commentary from the bleachers. So a direct quote and coming from the book, when in doubt, assume people will act according to their current irrational urges, ignoring information that runs counter to their beliefs, trading long term for short term benefits.
Brad: 12:39 And most of all being influenced by the culture they identify with. Dang, man, this hurts. Does it hurt you? Uh, I’m hurt because I’m trying to stand proudly and claim that I’m immune to advertising that I’m such a discriminating consumer. I’m comfortable in my ego and my own shoes. I don’t care what people think of me. I’m certainly not going to buy some rip off watch that costs thousands of dollars just to walk around with the status symbol on my arm. Oh my gosh. Funny story from a close friend of mine, I shouldn’t say his name, but, uh, he went to a foreign country and bought an extremely good knock off watch at the cost of $800 that looks and operates exactly like a popular $40,000 watch. So he has the joke both times because he had the tremendous satisfaction of getting a fantastic deal on buying this timepiece, which is an extraordinary, uh, technological innovation that keeps great time and whatever else those great time pieces are known for.
Brad: 13:44 But he also gets to walk around looking like a guy wearing a $40,000 watch without having to spend $40,000. I love it, man. Double dipping. Right? What about the person that spends $40,000 on the $40,000 watch? I don’t know, man. I’m not going to here to cast judgment, but maybe a little bit of judgment like, are you freaking kidding me? But guess what? The feeling that you got when you purchased that watch and the incredible customer service that you got and the leather case that it comes in and all of those bells and whistles you get a, Seth was also talking on his, uh, a different podcast about how you can go to the department store and buy some jewelry in New York City at Tiffany’s for $5,000. And yet if you walk 20 blocks down the street, you could go to the jewelry mart and get the same, uh, piece of jewelry for $1,000.
Brad: 14:36 That’s the massive markup that we know exists in jewelry. But the experience of going in and shopping and getting that customer care and saying that you bought something at Tiffany’s, that’s where all the value added is. So we have to acknowledge this and nod our heads and say that, yes, indeed, uh, we are part of this system that is slowly but surely getting broken down. Uh, but it’s still there, man. We’re still vulnerable and easily succumbing to marketing message. Me? Ha, look, uh, I’m trying, but I think of this example of my golfing enthusiasm and having to play with an excellent golf ball. And of course, Titelist is the leading golf ball in the world, has been for decades. Uh, they have a huge share of players on the professional tour using Titelist. So you open up a golf magazine and it has all these guys picture in a Hollywood squares set up and it says 63% of the field at the master’s use Titleist.
Speaker 1: 15:36 I’m making that up, that statistic, but they have a massive investment in the golf ball industry, leading manufacturer of golf balls and paying a crap load of millions of dollars to these players, uh, for them to use the golf ball, increasing the cost of the ball accordingly to where the price of these balls. If you go in retail stores ridiculous, like four or $5 a ball and you have a recreational golfer losing a few balls every round. It’s pretty silly. I be, I’m, I buy my Titelist golf balls on Ebay because I’m a discriminating consumer, but guess what? There are secondary brands. One of them is called Snell that my friend Bobby Jo turned me on to and he’s like, hey, try this ball, hit this ball. It’s an extremely high performing, a very well designed golf ball made by a fellow with the last name of Snell who has 28 years of experience making golf balls for Titlelists and Taylor Made. He was the co inventor of Titlest flagship ball for, for good players called the Pro v one and now he’s making his own balls, fraction of the cost, probably the exact same quality. So what is the resistance to switching over? It’s probably a little bit of my brain is still watching the Masters on TV and seeing those closeup shots of these guys hitting amazing shots with their Titelist golf balls.
Brad: 16:55 All right, so we’re trying, yeah. Anyway, back to that important concept about serving the smallest viable market. Uh, Seth says this is a scary concept for many providers because now you’re putting all your eggs into the basket of the people that you feel like you can serve the best rather than trying to, uh, grab the whole world as your marketplace. Now you’re focusing and getting into it, into the mix with the people that you’re going to serve the best. And so it’s a big risk because if you bomb with them, where else are you going to go? Man, you’re done. But the idea is to seek to make it big change within a small group. How do you find your group? You discover what they dream, believe and want using “psychographics” his term, he probably made it up, not demographics. So you stake your claim and say, I have the for this particular small group and you’re the single perfect answer on the planet. I guess this could count for something like a podcast, right? So send me an email, tell me what you like, what you want. Get over yourself firstname.lastname@example.org and we will create the show that matches your needs. We listened to the marketplace. Fun stuff. A great metaphor that he used was, let’s say your invented this, uh, this magic purple powder where if you drop one drop into a swimming pool, the entire swimming pool turns purple, the desired color of your magic product.
Brad: 18:24 Uh, so that’s great. But what happens if you drop a drop of your magic purple powder in the ocean? Nothing. Okay, so you’re trying to seek to turn that pool purple rather than turn the ocean purple. Right? And he has this little template exercise for anybody who’s creating something and so you, you perform this exercise filling in the blank. My product is for people who believe…… Blank. I will focus on people who want…….. Blank. I promise that engaging with what I make will help you get……. Blank. And what a way to deal with the expanded flat market versus the old vertical market. The old-time marketing was preying upon lowest common denominators like fear, scarcity, coercion and pressure. Hey, ever buy a car back in the day. I think it’s better now, right? I don’t buy new cars. I buy used cars off family members and then they break down and then we work things out with a price adjustment.
Brad: 19:25 How about gym membership? I know they still do this where you want to go in and check the place out for the first time. You want to guest pass at the front desk and go wander around and see what it’s like. But instead, they have to give you a guided tour and then pull you into a little room and try to get you to sign up for a year’s membership. Or if you sign up for two years right now, we’ll pull it right out of your bank account. No worries. And we’ll waive the initiation fee, pressure, pressure, pressure. How about timeshare presentations where if you sit through their, uh, their breakfast and then the, uh, personal meeting with the salesperson, you get a free couple of nights in the hotel, probably worth it. But it is indeed a brutal hour of saying no and trying to get them off your case.
Brad: 20:09 So now in this wonderful new marketplace with tremendous consumer choice and freedom, we gotta be different. Man, we’ve got to up our game. A great example is the real estate agent. And in the old days, the real estate agent was all-powerful real estate broker, a real estate agent. Uh, the broker had access to the MLS information. You could not get it as a consumer. You didn’t know what homes were for sale unless you drove around randomly and looked at signs. Can you imagine just a short time ago. And so now we have Zillow. So you can sit there, look at beautiful pictures and videos of the homes you’re interested in, in your price range and your area of your desired zip code. And so what’s the broker going to do? The broker has to transform and to traffic in something different than they used to, which used to be information.
Brad: 20:56 So now they have to traffic in emotions and handling your fears and insecurities. Quote, there are so many other ways to make an impact and earn trust. You must market to your audience. We’re serving their wants, needs and dreams. Go to extremes, find an edge, stand for something, not everything. All right. And in the real estate example, uh, unfortunately a lot of people in the game are still hustling. They’re still trying to pressure people to get listings or to make offers. They’re doing mass mailers into the zip code. They got their face on a bus bench, uh, on a billboard even. And according to Seth, anyway, this kind of race to the bottom marketing, uh, was worth winning back in the day. But now it’s time to transform. So what are you going to do? A quote, if you make something others can make, you’ve got pain end quote from Seth because the customer can click away and buy it cheaper.
Brad: 22:00 The customer can get discount broker now. Right? What’s the name of the outfit that does everything on the Internet for a fraction of the traditional real estate broker? Percentage. Redfin. Oh, and by the way, just delivering quality is not enough. Quality’s expected. So when you go by the bus bench and the real estate broker has a message saying, uh, quality and service you can trust. It’s like, Huh. Yeah. As opposed to stuff I can’t trust. I mean, what are you saying? Of course there’s, of course there’s trustworthy, high quality you’re doing with the, the biggest transaction in someone’s life. Uh, remember when Fedex used to advertise that they were on time? Something about the slogan. Of course they’re on time 99% of the time. Sometimes they mess it up, but we all just assume that. So we can’t focus on that aspect anymore if we’re marketing product or service to the world.
Brad: 22:56 So what to do first, raise people’s expectations. Engage their hopes and dreams. Help them see further. That is the difficult work that we signed up for. I’m quoting or paraphrasing Seth of course, find and build and earn your own story. We need to be willing to be of service. Guess what that means? This is brilliant too, you’re never going to forget this. Authenticity is overrated. We want to be professional and perform our role in society, in the economy. We don’t want authenticity. Do you want your therapist to be bored and distracted at that late afternoon appointment or do you want your therapist to bring your A game and sound like he or she’s super interested in everything you have to say? It has helpful solutions. Same with your scheduled appointment for knee surgery. Do you want your orthopedic surgeon to say, yeah, I’m kind of not feeling it today. I wish I was out playing golf instead, but eh, let’s get started? No, we don’t want authenticity. We want people who are professional and bring their A game. You are not expected or welcome to bring us every one of your insecurities, inner most fears and urgent demands. You are here to be in service. I love that. Oh my gosh.
Brad: 24:13 So back to the real estate broker. Love that profession. That’s a great example, Mia. More, you’re doing a great job on all this stuff, but what does the broker breakthrough and become extraordinary.? Someone who’s lived their whole life in that town and can give you the straight scoop about what’s overpriced, what areas are up and coming and interesting and you might like based on getting to know you very well and your needs and wants and desires. What are the quality of the schools, the reputations, how about the traffic patterns at rush hour?
Brad: 24:46 Oh, we have a wonderful location. Only 15 minutes from the UCLA campus in the case of my parent’s house. Yeah. In the middle of the night and an hour, seven at rush hour. Ah, so the real estate broker going the extra mile, becoming a partner in the game, the biggest transaction of one’s life. And also being a partner in the community. Uh, I was reading a magazine article about the number one ranked agent in the United States for, I believe it was century 21, uh, operating in southern California. And this lady has been a fixture in the community, a sponsoring local athletic teams, serving on the board of the local associations for education, pulling off these charity events, doing volunteer work, building the community, and then helping people buy and sell homes in that community. That’s how you get to be number one. And interesting on the broker example, Seth reminds us or informs us, this is a new one for me.
Brad: 25:46 No one is happy to call a broker. What don’t you want to buy a house? Don’t you want to sell your house? Despite the broker’s hopes, it is not often a joyous interactions. People are afraid, nervous, relieved, eager to get going, anxious about moving, stressed about money, thinking about status gained or lost, concerned about the future, worried about their kids. Maybe they’re bickering amongst themselves and they broker is merely a speed bump on the way to their future. Most of what they say is just noise because it all costs the same. You pay the broker the same whoever they are, who, that’s pretty heavy. That’s all the more inspiration to be the person. In the aforementioned example of being the local expert in providing breakthrough knowledge. So the broker who wants to be better has to ask themselves, how do you show up in the world?
Brad: 26:45 Do you reassure and soothe people? Do you probe and explore their needs? Do you claim to be better, faster, and more caring? No one really needs a broker. They need how the broker makes them feel to get what the broker can get, whether it’s a purchase or a sale. And the same is true for a waiter, a limo driver, or whatever other service you offer brokers and others. Most important work is to traffic in emotions, not commodities. There we go. What do you think? Some interesting reflections on both sides of the coin, Huh? As the provider of a service or product, and also as the consumer.
Brad: 27:27 Thanks for listening. Definitely listened to the interview with Seth Godin and check out his wonderful email@example.com. That’s a breather show. Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org and we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews, and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars, and it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves because they need to. Thanks for doing it.