3 Marketing Lessons From This Is Marketing By Seth Godin

The old ways of marketing are dying

In This Is Marketing, Seth Godin makes the case that marketing isn’t about creating hype anymore.

And it’s getting harder and harder to build a business using outrageous advertising to coerce people to buy your mediocre stuff.

Those days are long gone, and they’re not coming back.

Today, marketing is about taking the time to understand, on a deep level, the people you seek to serve.

It’s about helping those people change for the better.

And it’s about creating work you’re proud of for people who care. 

As usual, Seth covers a lot of ground, very quickly and from a high level.

But among the dozens of brilliant ideas he shares, there were three that stuck out to me…

  • The Smallest Viable Market
  • “People like us do things like this”
  • Affiliation vs Dominance

The Smallest Viable Market

The “mass market” doesn’t exist anymore.

To be an effective marketer, you have to choose your smallest viable market.

The smallest viable market is the minimum number of people you need to influence to make it worth the effort.

It’s that (tiny) group of people that you seek to serve.

Why is the smallest viable market an important concept?

Because you can’t market to everyone. There’s just way too much noise in the world now.

If you’re trying to appeal to everyone, no one will hear you.

So you have to narrow your focus to a subsection of everyone.

That small subsection of everyone is your smallest viable market.

Once you narrow it down to the smallest viable market, now you can market to them more effectively.

You can connect with them more easily.

You can speak their language.

You can better understand their problems.

And you can help them see that your offer is for them specifically – it’s not just another average product for the average person.

“People Like Us Do Things Like This”

Once you stop looking at “everyone” and start narrowing down to smaller groups of people, you’ll notice something.

That people in these groups share similar ideas, beliefs and worldviews.

You’ll notice that each group has a culture, a way of doing things.

“People like us, do things like this.”

In politics, Democrats and Republicans act in congruence with their culture.

So do vegans and carnivores.

And Christians and Muslims.

And Star Trek fans, Yankees fans and Ferrari fans.

These groups all have their own way of doing things.

Their own language. Their own stories. Their own enemies.

Sharing those things is what makes you part of the group.

Once you choose your smallest viable market, you have to seek to understand them on a deeper level.

What do they believe in? How do they speak? What are their customs? Who do they like and dislike? How do they view the world?

Because you can’t create change until you understand (and empathize with) the worldview and the culture of the people you seek to serve.

Affiliation vs Dominance

Humans make a lot of their decisions based on status.

Does buying this car raise my status or lower it?

How about wearing this outfit?

Buying a $20,000 watch may raise your status among your peers.

Or it may lower it.

It depends on whether you prefer affiliation or dominance.

Affiliation means getting along with the group, where you gain status from being a part of the community.

Dominance means you’re focused on power, where you gain status by moving up the ladder, by showing dominance.

That $20,000 watch might lower your status if you prefer affiliation and don’t want to shove your wealth in people’s faces.

But it would raise your status if you prefer dominance and enjoy showing off your success.

It’s not right or wrong, it’s just how different people view the world.

But the thing to understand is that you have to market to different people differently.

What you’re selling is going to effect people’s status in different ways.

Does your smallest viable market prefer affiliation or dominance?

Are you marketing your products and services in a way that speaks to that preference?

Understanding your smallest viable market, and how status, affiliation and dominance interacts within it, will make you a more effective marketer.

Seth Godin Knocks It Out Of The Park

I can’t recommend this book enough.

It’s so jam packed full of wisdom that you’ll have to read it a bunch of times to absorb it all.

If you’re a marketer trying to build a business in this new world we’re living in, This Is Marketing is a must read.

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