Seth Godin: What You May Be Doing Wrong in Marketing

Not everyone makes it big in business. In a world as big as ours, this is hard fact, and as there are success stories, there are also those who just can’t seem to make it. A question commonly asked by frustrated business owners is: What are we doing wrong? In a special interview with Seth Godin, who has been called “America’s Greatest Marketer”, he dishes out where people go wrong with marketing and how to fix it.

Start two years ago. First faced with the question, Godin starts by relating that some people in business have a habit of expecting a marketing campaign to work within a certain period. “If you really needed it to work in the next three weeks, you needed to start two years ago,” he says, referring to an example he gave. To put this simply, marketing strategies need planning as well as time to take effect; expecting otherwise would be foolish.

Don’t be self-absorbed.No one owes you their attention, and no one owes you their money.” As Godin explains, marketers should not get self-absorbed. Instead, they should bring humility, generosity, and clarity to their business.  And in order to do so and “make the mistakes go away”, Godin has a few pointers.

Tell a story. By this, Godin doesn’t mean just any story, though. Don’t bore your customers with numbers and statistics that try to prove that you have something better to offer. Instead, get into your customers’ minds and try to think of what stories would mean the most to them, what stories would ultimately catch their attention and convince them to buy. The next item is a good way to accomplish this.    

Watch your customers.  Observing customers and how they interact with your products is one of the best ways to gain insight on what works and what does not. Godin cites examples of how you can do this—setting up a video camera or watching personally— and also points out how helpful it is to simply be direct and ask for customer opinion. After all, if there’s one opinion that would really matter in marketing, it would be the customer’s. 

Focus on your product. In the end, all the marketing techniques, strategies, and ploys are never as important as the product. That’s what people will ultimately pay for, and if you haven’t spent as much time developing your product as you did advertising it, failure is never too far off. As examples, Godin relates how Google, Yahoo, etc. do not spend money on advertising, but instead focuses on their products. If you come to think of it, a sound product that boasts of benefits to consumers needs far less advertising per se since it pretty much markets itself. No need to ramble on and wrack your brains for persuasive content, a.k.a. sugar coating, when printing your brochures or product catalogs.

In this interview, Godin presented an expert view from one who has been there and done that. He’s seen the same problems before and made the same mistakes, and hopefully, his explanations will prevent you from making your own mistakes that would be completely preventable. Looking for more business tips? Forbes shares an article on Ten Horrific Business Mistakes.

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