Most marketers have heard of the successful entrepreneur and prolific author Seth Godin. Marketing hacks can be budget-friendly as well as very effective, and Godin has plenty of tricks for businesses determined to succeed in this digital age.
In one of his most striking TED Talks, Godin explains that in a world of unlimited options and limited time, consumers are bored with the ordinary. He believes that to succeed as a business in today’s fast-paced, crowded, digital marketplace, marketers should create remarkable content that people can’t help but share.
While he gave this talk a few years back, we’re sharing these Seth Godin marketing tricks because his ideas are just as relevant today. If you’re struggling to breathe new life into your content strategy, these marketing tips could be just the ticket.
The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread Was the Idea of Sliced Bread
“People who can spread ideas—regardless of what those ideas are—win.”
Godin starts his talk with the origin story of sliced bread. While many people assume sliced bread was an immediate business success, it wasn’t.
For the first fifteen years after sliced bread was invented, it wasn’t a hugely successful product. Yes, the product was good, and the machine that Otto Frederick Rohwedder designed was ingenious, but it was only when the “Wonder” brand came along and spread the idea about sliced bread to the public that it began to sell on a large scale.
Rule One: It doesn’t matter what you sell—what matters is whether you can successfully spread the idea of what you sell.
The Purple Cow
“The thing that’s gonna decide what gets talked about, what gets purchased, what gets built is this: Is it remarkable?”
Let’s say you’re driving down a road and you see a cow. Then you see another cow. And another. Nothing remarkable here. Soon, you don’t even notice the cows—they’re boring. But what if you turned the next corner and saw a purple cow, just standing there? You’d notice it, right? It’s not just any cow—it’s a purple cow! You’d tell your friends, and they would tell their friends because it’s something remarkable. It’s useful to remind ourselves of the definition of remarkable:
Worthy of being or likely to be noticed especially as being uncommon or extraordinary
Remarkable also means “worth making a remark about.” What is worth making a remark about? Something that is new or different. For example, the number one best-selling DVD in America changes every week—it’s always something new, however bad it is. The reason it’s number one is not that it’s great: it’s because it’s new, it’s different, and people have heard about it.
Rule Two: Only things that are remarkable get noticed and talked about.
Consumers Don’t Care About You
“It is critical to realize that consumers do not care about you; they only care about themselves. The amount of choices consumers have means they do not have to engage in your idea or support it in any shape or form.
Consumers have more choices than ever before, but also less time. When you’re bombarded with advertising on a daily basis, the easiest thing to do is ignore it. It all looks the same. It’s boring…like a cow. What consumers want is something that excites them. They don’t want something that is for everyone—they want something that they feel a connection to, something that is just for them.
So, the question marketers should ask before creating any content or advertising material is: How do you make people feel special? Or, to put it more bluntly: How do you make people feel that the world revolves around them? The solution is to offer something that they feel is unique to them. But you have to make them notice. And they will notice, as long as you create an idea that spreads.
Rule Three: The world revolves around your customer, not your business.
The Flaw in Mass Marketing
“What marketers used to do is make average products for average people. That’s what mass marketing is…they would ignore the geeks.”
Over the years, many businesses have tried to market to the center ground because that’s where the largest audience is. But Godin argues that in this new digital age, mass marketing is not a strategy that marketers should use anymore:
“The strategy should be to…not market to these people because they’re really good at ignoring you.”
The flaw in mass marketing is that businesses ignore the others—the innovators and the early adopters. These are the people that will listen because if you do something remarkable, they will want to talk about your business and share it with their friends. The idea will spread.
“Market to these other people because these are the people who care. These are the people who are obsessed with something.”
Rule Four: There is no point in wasting time and money marketing to people who will ignore you.
Tap into the Otaku
“The product may not appeal to everybody, but to the people who love it…they talk about it like crazy.”
This type of obsessive consumer could be described as an otaku, a word that every marketer should get familiar with.
Otaku is a Japanese word that describes someone who has an all-consuming interest in something. Like the words geek and nerd in their early days, the word otaku had negative connotations. But its meaning is shifting. Today, many people see the word geek as a badge of honor, in whatever context.
Similarly, an otaku is simply someone who loves something enough to become obsessed with it. And these types of consumers are a goldmine for marketers. Why? Because hardcore fans—of anything—are more likely to spread the idea, talk about the product, and become a loyal customer.
“To make a product, to market an idea, to come up with any problem you want to solve that doesn’t have a constituency with an otaku is almost impossible.”
Rule Five: Find a group of people that really cares about what it is you have to say, and then talk to them.
Seth Godin Marketing Tricks: Key Takeaways
We can sum up what Seth Godin says with the three following key points:
1. Safe is Risky
In a world where people have more choice and less time, the riskiest thing marketers can do is play it safe. To avoid being ignored, the smart choice is to be remarkable.
2. Very Good is Boring
Whatever you’re marketing, you have to be more than “very good.” Being “very good” is now common and boring. To get noticed and talked about, don’t be boring.
3. Figure Out Who Cares
Find out who really cares about what you do, and determine exactly what they want. Talk to these “outsiders” and create content that makes them want to come back for more.
Follow these three strategies, and there’s a good chance your ideas will spread, your customer relationships will strengthen, and your brand will grow.
Seth Godin Marketing Hacks: Advice for Content Marketers
So, what does this all mean when it comes to your content strategy?
Consumers are bored with the ordinary. Your content may be technically “very good,” but this doesn’t mean it will get much attention. To get people talking about your business, it’s better to be bizarre or different. It makes people sit up, take notice, and listen. If your competitors are getting more attention than you, it’s because they are doing something different. So should you. When it comes to content marketing, being different wins.
Godin had a good story to illustrate this. A brand called Silk made chocolate soymilk. It didn’t need to be in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, but they managed to get the supermarkets to put it there, right next to the milk. Their sales tripled. Why? Because it stood out. No advertising was needed—they just did something remarkable, and people browsing the supermarket shelves noticed.
Before you create any content, ask yourself: Will people want to talk about this? Is it remarkable? Find something unique to say because ideas will only spread through unique strategies and content.
Turn Boring Content into Something Remarkable
We hope you found these Seth Godin marketing hacks interesting and useful. As a content creation service, Constant Content can help you restore old, boring content into something that is more relevant and SEO-friendly. If you have any interesting ideas —and if you want to experiment and be remarkable—we’re here to help.
We can connect any business or client with freelance writers who will produce unique content for specific requirements. Through writer groups, we can help you deliver more remarkable content to your audience, and help your ideas to spread.