This Is Marketing

In his podcast, Akimbo, Seth Godin teaches us how to adopt a posture of possibility, change the culture, and choose to make a difference. Here are my takeaways from the episode.

The human society has had many revolutions. Four notable, recent revolutions are:

  • The industrial revolution: With it, we now can make things with more sophistication and better quality every passing year.
  • The computer revolution: With it, we now have computers that can handle many complex scientific/engineering computations works for us.
  • The networked-computer revolution: With it, we can connect all the computers and data to form more data and insights than ever.
  • The marketing revolution: This revolution combines the first three revolutions and changes how we make things, bring things to the market, and change our perception and belief about those things we make. Marketing is all about the changing of the culture.

Marketing is now pervasive than the religions over 100 years ago. Marketing changes how we interact with things/people, what we buy, how we vote, and even how we date. Some ideas presented in the marketing revolution are:

Marketers make change happen. Marketers assert that something they bring in will change someone for the better. What we do as a marketer is to make things better by making better things. We use stories to talk about some product, some service, or some vision that will make an actual, positive impact on other human beings.

Often marketing now is about changing the culture, “People Like Us, Do Things Like this.” We need to figure out who we are trying to serve, because not everyone is “People Like Us.” We also need to figure out what we plan to do (regarding product, service, or vision) because not everything is “Things Like this.”

By focusing on the specific people and things, we can work on identifying the “smallest viable audience.” It is not doing something for the mass. It is also not making average stuff for the average people.

If we can find and engage with the smallest viable audience for the change we are hoping to make, we can sustain the movement of change. We can serve the people who want to be served. See people for whom want to be seen. And connect with people who want to be connected. Once we identified the smallest viable audience, we can now answer the questions of who it is for and what it is for.

When we go to the market, most people do not want to hear from us. Most people will be skeptical. Instead of trying to please the mass, we need to shun the non-believers. If the people we seek to serve do not get what we are doing or do not want to engage with us, we should treat this as a critical lesson and figure out how to improve. Spending energy on the non-believers is a waste.

Bringing about a change is difficult, even when we bring it to the people who want to hear from us in the first place. Changes are risky. It is only a recent occurrence that people can thrive from being a neophiliac, and they are the first set of audience we are trying to serve.

Even marketing to neophiliacs can create tension. Tension is something we all try hard to avoid. Traditional mass marketers try to position their product/service by reducing tension. In modern marketing, we need to consider creating tension to gain traction on the change we hope to serve up. The tension sends a message that says, “Where you are now is fine, but the place I am trying to take you will be even better.”

When we are trying to create the tension, we need to see what people fear. Modern marketing is about seeing everyone has different concerns and fears, and we are embracing those different concerns and working with them. We can talk to everyone in a way that they want to be talked to. We can talk to them about their fears.

Modern marketing is also about the concept of status. Successful marketing will address everyone’s need for status. Some will want higher status. Many will want their status unchanged if not improving. Some may even want a lower status, as they believe the lower status will help them hide better. Regardless of people’s status needs, marketing helps to address those needs.

The network effect also plays into the axiom of “People Like Us Do Things Like This.” Successful product/service is also the beneficiary of the network effect, and the idea spreads. Significant cultural changes usually have those products, services and ideas that have the network effect. Another word, those products, services, and ideas spread in a way that begs to be shared, because they are remarkable and worth talking about by the tribes.

The tribes are the natural clumps of people, people who want to be connected and seen doing some common things together. The tribes do not belong to anyone, but we can rise to lead them. We can lead them by connecting the tribe members, to commit to where they are hoping to go, and be the impresario that weave the necessary strands into the braids of a movement. We all try to seek out the meaning and our purposes. The tribes are the representations of those meanings and purposes, so we want to be a part of the tribe.