John Moore – whom I ran into yesterday – posted these very cool little Seth Godin vignettes on his blog. At first glance, I thought “Cool! This is a really sweet idea.” I set out to check each one out… and… quickly realized that although the action figure and quote montage thing was indeed very nifty, the selection of Seth quotes was… well, surprisingly bad.
At first glance,it looks and sounds great… and it comes from Seth, so you put on your Seth filter and expect it all to be very wise and true and insightful… but not this time.
Frankly, having been a big fan of Seth’s work over the last decade, going back to his days penning killer editorials for Fast Company, this was a huge surprise.
Feeling like maybe I had stepped into some weird Twilight Zone episode where everything is backwards, or stepped through an alternate opposite dimension like in that Star Trek Episode where Spock sported a goatee and Captain Kirk was shagging all the female members of his crew, I quickly turned on the TV and flipped to Fox News to see if their version of the news made sense. (A true litmus test for alternate realities if you ask me).
Alternatively, if you happen to have more “conservative” propensities, getting your hands on a copy of “It Takes a Village” would certainly do the trick.
Anyway. Long story short: The Fox Box turned me off in about two minutes flat. Verdict: I hadn’t stepped into an alternate universe. Ergo: Seth Godin had indeed lost his friggin’ mind.
Let me illustrate:
Wrong. Those of us who live in the real world still do come in the front door quite a bit. And even if the initial contact with a website is not with the home page, the next click or two will invariably take us there. So will most of our return visits. Perhaps Seth meant to say something else, but being that he makes a living writing articles and books and whatnot, that is pretty unlikely.
Wrong again. Old Marketing is simply a methodology, and as such has nothing to do with the quality of the products it aims to serve. Old Marketing is Old Marketing whether the product is great, average or plain lousy. The same is true of New Marketing.
Wrong. I see plenty of brand new companies with crappy product, crappy customer experiences, crappy organizations and crappy marketing. Likewise, I see plenty of established companies turn their troubles around by adopting what Seth would call “New Marketing.” New Marketing is not the domain of fresh new entrepreneurs at all. I find that kind of thinking pretty disappointing, actually.
This is the kind of generalization that I would never have expected from “Papa Seth.”
Well… the end of the second part is true… It must be embedded into the experience of the product, but there are plenty of great “big” ideas everywhere, including the world of Advertising. And yes, advertising ideas sometimes travel VERY well.
The problem with advertising is that the US had never been all that great at it anyway. Yeah, sometimes you get a good one, but all in all, it’s a lot of noise aimed at the “good enough” middle of the bell curve. (We’ll come back to that in a bit.) Back to the point: Big ideas can indeed be advertising-based.
Let me add that if – as Bruce Mau suggested – “creativity is not device dependent,” neither is it industry-related. Seth’s anti advertising religion is starting to cloud his logic.
In a perfect world of mavens and super cool intellectuals with unlimited greenbacks, maybe. But out here in the real world, market share matters. Volume matters. Why? Because massive amounts of revenue buy business, mind share, government regulation, premium shelf space and whatever else is necessary to either maintain that market share or increase it.
Simple illustration: I don’t care how great your burger is and how cool the setting of your new cool fast food restaurant, you aren’t going to displace McDonald’s.
Who is going to defeat companies in markets defined by volume and market share, Seth?
What little startup will defeat Verizon, at&t, Microsoft, Ford, HP, Gilette, Miracle Whip, Coca Cola, or Nike?
It’s a nice thought that may be true for some smallish businesses, but deeply flawed as a generalization. As much as I hate to admit it, the old model is very much alive, and no amount of daydreaming or ideation will change that.
iPod is neither remarkably weird, nor remarkably well priced. The same can be said of just about anything made by Starbucks, Nike, HP, BMW, VW, Ford, Chevy, McDonald’s, KFC, Victoria’s Secret, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, RayBan, Microsoft, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Verizon, cingular, HBO, Trek, Pepsi, CNN.com, Colgate, Speed Stick, Whole Foods, Levis, Fruit of the Loom, Exxon, etc. I don’t think I need to go on, but I can if you want me to. For hours. Days, even.
And advertising still matters. A lot.
You are so wrong it hurts.
So I have to ask:
1. What the hell are you babbling about?
2. How does pleasing everyone play into the whole “marketshare is irrelevant” thing?
Even if I agree with you on this point, how is it different from what every company has been trying to accomplish since the dawn of enterprise?
Dude. You’re scaring me.
Until recently, marketing was all about breadth because the tools weren’t there to reach people individually, based on specific criteria. Now that these tools are getting more accessible, effective and affordable, companies will be able to combine breadth AND depth to drive sales, product adoption, mindshare, or whatever they want.
To say that mass isn’t important is to say that generating revenue – and growth – are not important.
I’m worried about you, Seth. Seriously.
Seth, people buy average crap every day, seemingly by the pound. They can’t get enough of average, in fact.
Average food, average cars, average clothes, average haircuts, average music, tickets to average movies, hours of couch time watching average TV shows… Our entire culture is based on the premise that the fat middle of the bell curve is where the lion’s share of the revenue (and value) is. The point here Seth, is that the majority of people actually do go for what’s “good enough.”
The sweet spot for most businesses, is right there between “not good enough” and “very good.”
And um… “people avoid the deceitful?” Really? Tell that to Exxon, McDonald’s and the current administration, for starters. People don’t give a crap about the deceitful. They’re jaded. As if integrity was even a blip on the radar anymore.
We’re kind of into denial, Seth… in case you hadn’t noticed. Check out the stats on how much money is spent each year in the US alone on weight loss products. Deceit obviously sells just as well as anything else.
The very fact that over 93% of Americans eat red meat is proof enough that people don’t avoid the deceitful at all. Come on, man. What country do you live in? Our entire way of life is firmly anchored in denial. Deceit doesn’t even enter the picture.
I don’t mean to be critical, but I have to call bullshit when I see it. (Even if John did a kickass job for you on the improvised presentation.)
I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, Seth. Everyone goes a little crazy sometimes… but… wooh. You don’t do anything half-assed, do you.
I think I’m going to go drown my sorrows in Kambucha now.
Or better yet, go watch some “good enough” TV.
It’s a world gone mad I tell ya.
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