A Morning with Seth Godin

This morning I was privileged to attend a video conference with one of the best marketing minds of our generation, Seth Godin. This fantastic event was presented by Travel Alberta as part of their speaker series program.

I’ll try to digest and share with you some of the key points Seth talked about today. Please note my personal opinion is mixed in with Seth’s notions.

Mass Marketing is Broken.

As described in “The Long Tail“, consumers today have an exponentially increasing number of choices. A few years ago if we wanted white and black cookies… we’d choose Oreos. And there was only one kind. Did you know that there are now OVER 30 kinds of Oreos? In Japan, Coke comes out with a new product almost every 21 days. With this inundating number of choices and noise surrounding us, mass marketing is barely effective at best.

Most Powerful Person in Your Business

… is lowest paid and often disrespected. It’s the front lines of your business who have the most contact with your customers, yet most businesses treat these people the worst. In a large corporation, people are treated as cogs in a machine. Replaceable and expendable. The truly remarkable businesses give their employees respect, power and responsibility: a hotel which allows their maids a $150 discretionary budget per room provides that maid with the tools necessary to make someone’s stay remarkable. And remarkable gets talked about.

Good Enough is Not Good Enough

Good enough isn’t remarkable. An average experience for an average person at an average price is nothing to tell your friends about. The only way to differentiate is to build an exceptional experience. Something your customers or clients will tell their friends about. How often have you told your friends about an adequate meal at an average restaurant, for a mediocre price? Now imagine picking your date up and driving to a remote part of town, to be greeted by the same chef that cooked for Brad Pitt and Angelina last time they were on vacation. The restaurant is packed, your valet addressed you by name as he hands you over to a hostess who guides you down a red carpet to your table. The meal is exceptional. Some vegetables you never even heard of were served and the chef even came out to ask how your dinner went.

Build Clubhouses.

Choose your best customers and do exceptional things for them. Choose your worst customers… and let them down easy. Your business will be sure to improve. Seth discussed this idea and it’s very much in line with other reading and opinions I subscribe to. In order to build a business you want to wake up every morning to… and one that your clients love dealing with there has to be love. We work better and more freely with people we naturally get along with. Focus on your best customers, figure out what some of the commonalities may be… and look for more of the same. There is an underlying social component to this notion as well: chances are your clients will not only like you, but each other as well, giving you a perfect opportunity to allow them to network with each other.

No More Mister Big Spender

One of the trends Seth discussed was diminishing of the Big Spender. Quite possibly for a while. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in overindulgence, overspending and overall quite a plush lifestyle for most. Seth argues this is now taking a turn. Even those with deep pockets are more likely to look for better value, research their decisions in more depth before parting with cash. So what’s a business to do? We must provide value. We must provide something money can’t really buy: a great experience.

Seth Godin’s new book “Linchpin” is coming out in a few days.

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