Review: This is Marketing

Book Cover,  credit.

Book Cover, credit.

Seth Godin my favorite marketing aficionado. His marketing words of wisdom always feel wise and his most recent book, This Is Marketing, is no exception.


What I most appreciate about Seth’s approach is that he is all about using marketing for good, which, in case you haven’t figured it out already, is what I am all about. I mean, I have an entire business dedicated to using my niche marketing expertise to promoting good in the world. What isn’t there for me to love about Seth’s philosophies?  Seth is working to change the concept of marketing, that marketing is an important agent for good in the world. Take these marketing techniques and use them to change the world for good! Throughout his book, I kept hearing these three themes playing off of each other: sell to the smallest viable audience, marketers are change makers; and people like us do things like this.

Sell to the smallest viable audience.

The smallest viable market gives you the freedom to pick you seek to serve and to serve them well. Something that is for everybody doesn’t serve anybody well. You need to “do work that matters for people who care.” Just like a one size fits all shirt or dress. Seth uses a great example with the Grateful Dead.

The Grateful Dead have a pretty niche market. I’m not a child of the 70’s, obviously, but I know who the Grateful Dead are. Most of my generation knows of the Grateful Dead. Most aspiring musicians don’t hope to only have only one song on the radio. But that’s just what the Grateful Dead did. They only had one hit on the radio. What they did have was some of the most passionate fans. Fans who went to their concerts and shared their music. They didn’t create music for the masses, they created music for their audience, the smallest viable audience, and when that audience was served so well they became passionate crusaders for the band. That’s why I know who the Grateful Dead are, despite their lackluster radio career, and why Jerry Garcia and his bandmates were able to bring in a net worth comparable to any mainstream, popular artist. They served their smallest viable audience and served them well.

Marketers are change makers.

Do you see yourself as a change maker? I hadn’t thought about it that way previously, but it’s true. Whenever you’re marketing you’re trying to get people to do something new, to make a change. To guide your decision making, Seth says to ask yourself, “What change do I seek to make?” This book goes into detail about why people will make changes and the different things for marketers to consider. He talks about the tension that is created for someone to make a change, and that tension at different stages. Marketers make change by normalizing new behaviors, and normalizing what people like us do. Which brings us into the book’s third theme...

People like us, do things like this.

This term must have been a runner up for the title it was repeated so often. “People like us, do things like this.” It was easily the biggest theme of the book. This is so simple and complex at the same time, and Seth dives into a bunch of different scenarios and examples like this. The basic idea goes back to the fact that people make decisions based on emotion, not logic. If you think you’re a logical buyer it’s because you like to think of yourself as a smart, logical buyer. We make decisions based on what we think is expected from us or what we see people who we associate with doing. Humans are social creatures and our relationships are important, so making sure acting within our social norms, doing things that people like us do, is important. We’re still members of a tribe and, in his words, we want to be respected by those we aspire to connect with.

This is Marketing is a great book. Give it a read or, if you’re like me and always going a million different ways, download the audio book.