Marketing Insight
An interview with best-selling author Seth Godin

Posted on October 17, 2014 at 9:40 AM by Caroline Smyth

Mark Barrett of CIMarketing discusses the current marketing environment with the world's foremost marketing author, the number 1 single-authored blog writer, and the multi-time New York Times best-selling Author Seth Godin.

MB: You are a prolific blog writer and your posts are always a great read. Where do you get your inspiration for posts from?

Seth Godin: I notice things. Most people don’t spend the time to ask ‘why’ or ‘what if’ when they encounter something that doesn’t require immediate action. That’s all I do. I notice things.

MB: If our Australian Small Business readers only had enough money to buy one of your books, which one would you recommend to read and why?

Seth Godin: Unleashing the Ideavirus is free. So is the Bootstrapper’s Bible. After those two, I guess I’d say the new one, Linchpin, because it’s about the why, not the what.

MB: Who do you see as the leading small business marketing expert at the moment? (apart from yourself)

Seth Godin: The person who’s running one. The problem with being that expert, though, is sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why reading books helps so much. Not because the author is an expert, but because she asks smart questions.

MB: Your book 'Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us' talks about being a leader and leading your tribe, whoever they might be. How do we work out who we want our tribe to be?

Seth Godin: If you don’t know that, you’ve got big troubles. Now, you might want a tribe you can’t get, and so you have to adjust, but I think it’s critical than any small (or large) business have a very clear of who they want to lead and where they want to take them.

MB: Could a small business selling widgets locally embrace social media tools like Twitter or Facebook in a positive way? or should they leave them alone?

Seth Godin: Time costs money. Facebook is an almost impossible method for a typical local business to thrive. Twitter is a great announcement tool... tweet your daily specials, or tweet a winner to a contest. But generally speaking, if you’re local, your biggest advantage is face to face, not online.

MB: What do you consider to be the best business development strategy?

Seth Godin: I define business development as joint ventures or licensing or acquisitions. Not sure that’s what you meant, but if you do, then the best strategy is have one! Few people do. If you mean sales, the best strategy is to sell to people who are actually in the mood to buy. This is far harder than it sounds. Sleepy’s Mattress Stores do very well, largely because the only people who walk into the store are people who are in the mood to buy!

MB: You write in your book 'Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?' that we should leave blogs alone unless we have something to say? In contrast, Online Marketers tell us to keep feeding unique content into our sites to help with our search engine optimisation. Where do you see the balance?

Seth Godin: Fooling search engines is a little like fooling Yellow Pages browsers. It sounds like fun until you try to make money at it. You will succeed when you have something to say, just as your Yellow Pages ad will work once you have something to offer. Bigger isn’t better. Better is better.

MB: If you had a budget of $20,000 to spend on a marketing campaign to sell more widgets, how would you spend it?

Seth Godin: I’d give the money to the widget guys and tell them to make me irresistible widgets. Great widgets. Purple widgets. Widgets worth talking about. Then I’d give away a few to the biggest sneezers in town and wait for the crowds to show up.

MB: What do you see as the key small business marketing trends for 2014?

Seth Godin: Defeating big businesses by offering customized products, insane service and great prices.

MB: What’s the most common marketing question you get asked and how do you answer it?

Seth Godin: How do I interrupt people in the first place? The answer is you don’t. You deliver anticipated, personal and relevant ads to the people who want to get them, and drip, drip, drip you build an asset for the long haul.

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