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Transcript of How Human Connection Elevates Marketing

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John Jantsch: You’re never gonna get your message across until you understand the problems and the challenges and you empathize with those people that you’re trying to get the message across to.

In this episode of Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I am visiting with my old friend, Seth Godin. Everybody’s favorite marketer and we’re talking about his new book called, This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See.

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Seth Godin. He is the author of 18 international bestsellers but I better check ’cause it may have changed by the time-

Seth Godin: It’s 19 now, ding, ding, ding.

John Jantsch: I knew I should have checked. And certainly to be translated in many, many languages, many of you listeners know that Seth’s been on when we talked about Unleashing the Ideavirus, maybe even Permission Marketing if we go back that long. Purple Cow Tribes. I’d run out of time if I list them all. But today we’re gonna talk about This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See. So, welcome back, Seth.

Seth Godin: Well, thank you. I think the keyword is, you said, “Another episode.” And your persistent generosity is the secret of marketing. So, bravo.

John Jantsch: Well, thank you very much. And again, I can spend five or six minutes talking about your generosity. But let’s get to the content, shall we? Let’s unpack this first element. Until you learn to see. What does that mean?

Seth Godin: Well, there’s two kinds of marketers. There’s the selfish marketers who are short term, short cutting narcissists. They are the ones who are getting in front of people because they want to market to them. And there’s the other kind of marketer. The long term player, the one who’s making a difference, who’s marketing with people. But you can’t market with them until you see them, until you know who they are, until you have the empathy to want what they want or at least, to help them get what they want. And too often, we’re in such a hurry ’cause we feel like we’re drowning that we forget to offer other people, a life vest.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I work with lots and lots of very small businesses who, they wanna cut down trees and they wanna repair plumbing and things like that. And marketing is actually sort of a nasty thing that they feel like they have to do sometimes and I think the real challenge for a lot of folks like that is that they kinda just copy what they see so many other people doing even if it is wrong. I mean, how do you take somebody like that, that is essentially not a marketer, who says, “I’ve gotta market” but, you know, all the examples, that are, but, not all, but a lot of the examples that I see are teaching me the wrong things.

Seth Godin: Well, first I’d say, they are marketers. They might not be marketing on purpose but if you’re out in the world trying to make a change happen of any kind, you’re marketing, that’s what marketers do. And they, you know, I got a piece of spam from somebody, a week ago. It said, “Hi, I’m an intern from BYU. Can you please answer this survey for my company?” And there were so many elements of it that were clearly spam. And I had nothing better to do, so I wrote back and I said, “You know, you don’t have to do work you’re not proud of even when you’re an intern.” That it begins a pattern of saying, “Well, I’m just doing my job.” You don’t have to do that. You could do work that matters instead.

And the kid was sort of stunned and wrote me back a nice long note which was gratifying but my point was, if you wanna be a plumber, if you wanna be a tree surgeon, the fact is, you will be judged and you will be judged on how you treated our precious attention and you will be judged by how you kept your promises. And you will always be able to find someone who will go lower than you. Always. You wanna race to the bottom because the problem with racing to the bottom is you might win. The alternative is to say, “I know how I would like to be treated. I know how I would like to be seen and that’s the way I’m gonna treat other people.”

John Jantsch: You make it sound so logical.

Seth Godin: Well, you know, I’m not trying to make it sound easy but we see it everywhere. So, like, for example, the heating and boiling guy, the boiler repair guy came to my house yesterday. And even though we’d been working together for years ’cause stuff breaks, he insisted on putting booties on before he came into the house. And I said, “You don’t have to put booties on. We’re just going straight to the basement.” He said, “No, no. It’s a habit. This is the way I do it and it’s what I ask people to do before they come into my house.” And, so the book is basically a metaphor for, “Put your booties on.”

John Jantsch: So, I’ve believe at least, a great deal of this book is drawn from a project that you’ve been involved in for a few years, The Marketing Seminar.

Seth Godin: That’s right. It’s 6,000 people have taken this online, workshop takes about three months to go through and I had the privilege of watching people do it. Because, you know, you’re sitting like a pharmacist up at the top and you can see everything in the store. And, so I could see where people were getting stuck. I could see what resonated. So, once it came time to write the book, it wasn’t particularly difficult to write because I just built it and lived it for two years.

John Jantsch: And there were a lot of questions, right? And I’m assuming that you learned a great deal from not just where people got stuck but just the questions they asked and their answers.

Seth Godin: That’s right. We saw people have their lives changed and their businesses change because they were putting this into practice. And that’s what I do, I’m a marketer, I make change happen and I’m a teacher. So, seeing the lights go on, that’s what drove me to write the book. As I said, there’s a lot of people who will pay 600 bucks to take a seminar but I bet you, if I can give them this handy package, not only will they read it but they’ll share it with their peers.

John Jantsch: Because I think that’s one of the real challenges. In the last five years, you know, there’s 5000% more courses out there, from people and I think most course makers, seminar makers would agree that the real challenge is getting people to actually do it. And look at the way you structured this project, it really does compel people to complete it, doesn’t it?

Seth Godin: Well, so, yeah, I think it’s really important to distinguish between online courses and online workshops. Online courses are everywhere and I’ve made some. It’s a bunch of videos, it’s a different way to absorb content. And they’re fun to make but in my experience, they don’t lead to profound change. Change comes from when you actually do the work. So, what we do with these various workshops and seminars, you know, the altMBA has a 96% completion rate and that’s because it’s expensive and time gated and there’s a coach who’s watching you all the time. And there’s a peer group and a mastermind group.

So, people would missed if they were gone. And at the other end of the spectrum are self paced, come and go as you please kinda MOOCs. I think the opportunity we have, if we care enough to level up, is to put ourselves into a position where when it gets hard, and education always gets hard, we don’t quit. And so, for some people, that’s just get an audiobook instead of the regular one. ’cause the audiobook keeps turning the pages whether you want it to or not.

And for other people it’s, get a coach or get into a workshop where there are coaches because that is what they need to move forward. But, one thing we know for sure, if you’re over 25, there are no tests and there no grades. So, we need a better incentive than that to learn things.

John Jantsch: So, I’m curious. The etymology of MOOC. I’ve not actually heard that one before.

Seth Godin: Oh, it all started with this idea of the massive online course. What the second ‘O’, open, Massive Open Online Course. So, open because you don’t have to apply to get in. The famous one was the one out of Stanford on artificial intelligence. And a 105,000 people took it. And, what the professor who ran it said was that the 100 people who took it and got an A+ were better than any of the students at Stanford who took it. What he didn’t mention is that, 96,000 people in the course, dropped out.

John Jantsch: Or never started.

Seth Godin: Perhaps.

John Jantsch: So, I get asked this question a lot because I’ve been doing this a long time and you’ve probably been doing it longer than me. What’s changed the most about marketing? I always love people’s answers to this.

Seth Godin: What’s changed is really clear. Which is the marketer used to buy attention, cheap, that marketing was a bargain, that you spend a 100 dollars, you’d make 200. And the big change is attention is not cheap anymore. And as a result, marketers are racing to buy every little shortcut they can find and they’re getting trash attention, they’re getting trash clicks, they’re getting bots and trolls showing up on their doorstep.

So, Procter & Gamble and the big marketers can no longer buy their way to a new brand. It hasn’t been done in 10 years, it’s over. On the other hand, smart marketers are thinking like direct marketers now. They pay a lot for a little bit of attention but they take care of it and as they take care of it, they turn it into something valuable.

John Jantsch: I’ve been a fan of as I know you have as well. Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools.

Seth Godin: Sure.

John Jantsch: That he’s been doing for, probably coming up on 20 years and I know you’ve been a guest on there. And I found, you mentioned this in the book and I found actually an episode where you talk about Penguin Magic and I actually have taken note of the fact that you like magic shops, don’t you?

Seth Godin: Well, I don’t like the old kind anymore. Penguin Magic has spoiled me. But yes, I grew up going to magic shops. I love the tension of, “I just saw something, it’s impossible but of course the laws of physics apply so how could it be impossible? I need to know how it’s done. Oh, here’s some money. Now it’s mine.”

And there aren’t very many things in our life where we can get that cycle with no side effects for ten bucks in five minutes. It’s a thrill.

John Jantsch: And there actually are countless cases throughout history where people have actually killed other magicians and things to find their secret, haven’t they?

Seth Godin: I hope that’s not happening lately. If it is, we should tell Penn & Teller before it’s too late.

John Jantsch: So, there’s a bit in this book, current book about going out of business sales. And what they kinda do to us and maybe how they hurt us as marketers. You, kind of wanna expand on that?

Seth Godin: Well, the challenge that we have as marketers is everything that we would do to make something work in the short run isn’t what we should do in the long run. That is not true for any other profession. That what’s good for a surgeon in the short run is good for a surgeon in the long run. Add it up, keep going. The problem that marketers face is that the stunts and the shortcuts and the hustle, I hate the hustle most of all, is tarring us with this paint, this tar that won’t let go. And that’s why if I could invent a new word for marketing, I would.

Because, the good kinda marketing which is the marketing you talk about and that I talk about and the marketing that works doesn’t involve any of that hustle. But, the internet has brought the hustle to the fore and I think we’ve gotta figure out how to walk away from it as fast as we can.

John Jantsch: One of the words that you, I think are proposing, maybe that takes the place of marketing, is this idea of developing an empathetic posture. How do we do that?

Seth Godin: So, what’s practical empathy? It’s a simple idea which is, “You know something I don’t know. You believe something I don’t believe. You want something I don’t want. And you care about things I don’t care about.” So, if I’m gonna engage with you, sell to you, serve you, do business with you, either, I need to force you to think the way I think or I need to have the humility and the generosity to accept the fact that you think, the way you think and maybe I can help you.

But, too often, particularly small business people insist that they’ve worked very hard to get to where they are and they are right. And they’re not willing to move an inch toward what somebody else wants or believes. Or, it feels manipulative. And I don’t think it’s manipulative. I think that, if for example, you are somebody who sells draperies and blinds and you sell them in the suburbs, an upper income suburb, you might be the kind of person who doesn’t have any drapes and blinds in your house. You might be the kind of person that would just go to Kmart or Home Depot and buy the cheapest thing.

But your customer, she wants something that’s gonna make her feel special. And she’s willing to spend 800 dollars for it. If you can’t go to where she is, then you can’t help her. And if you think that where she is, is she wants to see a spreadsheet, an RFP, a comparison of A versus B, you’re not being very empathic. That what we get to do is to go to where people are and help them see what they wanna see.

John Jantsch: I read an article the other day that said from 2011 to 2017, 5000 marketing technology companies, apps, tools, whatever you wanna describe ’em have come on the scene. Is that phenomenon making this harder to do marketing the right way?

Seth Godin: Wow, I love that stat. I would have guessed it was even more than that. The thing is, the programmatic, the idea that you don’t know where your ads are running and a system is busy buying and selling everything behind the scenes makes a certain kind of of marketer happy because it lets him or her off the hook and it lets you buy a certain kind of demographic scale really fast. It’s hands free, it’s not human.

And particularly for a small organization, we need to run away from this as fast as we can. You cannot outdo Hyatt Hotels. You cannot outdo Google at this game. You just can’t, you have no chance. It’s like trying to win at the stock market by being a day trader. That, the place where you can win, where you have an enormous unfair advantage is that you can look a human being in the eye and you can say, “I made this.” And you can say, “I see you.” And you can say, “How will we together make something work?” That is where 10,000 times more than all this crazy software.

John Jantsch: Yeah, there are lot of small businesses that we work with, you know, that advertising kinda becomes a trap because it kinda works. But the bad part about it is then they don’t build a website that works and they don’t write content that works and they don’t do the things that I think, they long term are going to make or break their business.

Seth Godin: Yeah, let me just do a quick Google math so that people understand why Google is one of the most valuable companies in history. If you buy a Google ad, a Click for six dollars, knowing that it’s worth 20 dollars, that every time someone clicks, you’re gonna, on average, make 20 dollars in profit and you’re paying six, that’s thrilling.

But then your competition comes along and buys that Click for seven. So the question is, should you pay eight? The answer is, probably and an auction ensues until it’s at 19. Now, at 19, should you pay 20? Well, some people will say, “Yes, because I don’t want my competitor to get this person.” Some people will say, “No, that’s crazy.”

But, either way, at 19 dollars, here’s what’s happening. The person that did all the hard work, who makes the product, who does the warranty, who built everything makes a dollar and Google makes 19 dollars. Now, multiply that by every product and service sold by Clicks on Google and now you know what’s going on. They’re clearing the table of all the profit in every industry that touches them.

John Jantsch: And it’s, it’s gotten worse. The local service ads are making them actually be part of the transaction now, not just a click. But, you sold 4000 dollars, great, I get a piece of that. So, yeah, I think that trend’s not going away. So, stories are hot. They’re a big part of this book. People talk about them now. 15 years ago, people thought they were silly but now they talk about them. But I still don’t see many people doing or getting this idea of stories. How do you make storytelling a big part of your marketing?

Seth Godin: Well, this is another word that’s getting in the way, right? Because storytelling doesn’t mean “Once upon a time.” And “Lived happily ever after.” Story could be, what kind of handshake do you have? Story could be, is your office in a strip mall or in a fancy building? Story could be, when I look at the people who work for you on your website, do I see people who look like me?

These are all stories, stories in the sense that they’re symptoms and symbols that we use to guess about further behavior and meaning. And so, we all live stories and we can build those stories on purpose or we can let them happen to us. So, one way to think about the value of a brand or a story is this, if Nike opened a hotel and that’s all you knew, is it Nike has a hotel? I’m guessing, with your eyes closed, you could imagine a whole bunch of things about that hotel and you’d be right.

On the other hand, if Hyatt or Hilton made a pair of sneakers, you’d have no clue what they would be like. None. That’s because Nike has a story and Hilton and Hyatt do not.

John Jantsch: Great example. So, [inaudible]. We’re getting towards the end, so, here’s a softball you can hit out of the park for me. I don’t really think people want what we sell. What do they actually want?

Seth Godin: Right. They don’t want what we sell at all. They want the change and the status that it offers. They want belonging, they want security, they want to feel like they are part of something. If the Grateful Dead had never been invented, they wouldn’t have invented the Grateful Dead. But they would have invented something that made them feel the way the Dead did.

John Jantsch: So, you just gave me an example but my last question was gonna be, is there a company or two that you wanna point to and say, “Hey go check out what these people are doing because they’re doing it right.”?

Seth Godin: Here’s what I would say. Think, right now of a logo that you admire. Let’s say, you’re talking to a designer. Think of a logo. I’m going to bet you, 10 to 1 odds, that the logo you thought of is not a pretty logo but is in fact something that adorns a brand that you care about.

This brand you care about, why do you care about it? Why do you pay extra for it? Why do you cross the street to engage with them? So, you get to pick the example. I don’t need to. Because if there’s a brand you care about, it is a brand you care about because of the ideas that are in this book.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and that’s a great lesson because everybody has a brand or two that they care about so then you can personalize that and turn it into a learning lesson. Great, great advice.

So, Seth, what kind of people are gonna know, that are gonna be able to find This Is Marketing everywhere but is there anything you wanna share in terms of how they would connect with you, how they’d find out, maybe about joining the Marketing Seminar?

Seth Godin: I made a bonus page at Seths.blog/tim which stands for This is Marketing and I’ve got a video there and some bonuses and links to all sorts of juicy stuff as well.

John Jantsch: Well, once again, I really appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Another great book. Congratulations and hopefully we’ll run into you soon, out there on the road.

Seth Godin: I hope so. Always a pleasure.

How Human Connection Elevates Marketing

How Human Connection Elevates Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Seth Godin
Podcast Transcript

Seth GodinThis week on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, I welcome back Seth Godin. A marketing expert and best-selling author of 19 books, Godin stops by to discuss his latest title, This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See.

He shares why creating empathy and human connection are not only the secrets to great marketing; they’re also the keys to doing work that you can truly be proud of—work that can change the world.

Godin has inspired millions of business owners and entrepreneurs and teaches the precepts of effective marketing and leadership in his books, on his blog, and through his public speaking. In addition to his writing and speaking, he is also the founder of two companies, Squidoo and Yoyodyne (acquired by Yahoo!).

Questions I ask Seth Godin:

  • What’s changed the most about marketing since you first started in the industry?
  • How do we develop an empathetic approach to marketing?
  • How do you make storytelling a big part of your marketing?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why today’s smart marketers are being careful with the attention they have.
  • How the hustle is destroying marketing.
  • What people actually want from a brand.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Seth Godin:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Revisiting Linchpin with Seth Godin

Seth GodinMarketing Podcast with Seth Godin

I think Linchpin might be my favorite book of the dozen or so book written by Seth Godin.

Seth has been a long time supporter of Duct Tape Marketing first adding my blog to something he called Bull Marketing way back in 2004 or so. Since then he has generously written jacket quotes for each of my books and remains one of the most generous folks I know.

I point this out to demonstrate how important the ideas he shares in Linchpin really are because the book is all about leadership and in many ways Godin is a great example of what leadership looks like.

“STOP asking what’s in it for you and start giving gifts that change people. Then, and only then, will you have achieved your potential,” Seth Godin in Linchpin

This week I revisit my conversation with Seth Godin about his book Linchpin. We discuss what it means to be indispensable to your company, and how you can be a linchpin to your business’ future success.

Questions I ask Seth:

  • How do you promote your books?
  • Where do you draw inspiration for your work outside your business?
  • What does it mean to be a Linchpin?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How to generate new ideas on a daily basis
  • Why you can’t wait till you “feel like it” to produce great content
  • How to leverage a community to promote your products

15 How I Write and How I Decide What To Write

People seem fascinated with routines – how other people get things done and the like. While you do need to develop your own way of getting it all done, it can be inspiring and reassuring to hear how others are doing it. (Yesterday I wrote – 7 Things I Did Not Know About Writing Before I Started)

How I decide what to write about

photo credit: Sven Van Echelpoel via photopin cc

photo credit: Sven Van Echelpoel via photopin cc

I have a pretty solid editorial calendar that runs out about a year in terms of monthly focus themes so my blog posts, podcasts and guest content is lined up to match my annual plan. For example, this month’s theme is writing. I also write a lot of content for needs beyond my blog – presentations, eBooks and webinars often show up in outline form on my blog. (Here’s a description of this Total Content System approach)

How I write

I’m an outliner. I come up with the primary point I want to make from the blog post and then I outline the supporting points, elements and resources that I need to add to fill it out. I find that this approach allows me to stay focused and write very quickly. I write an opening statement, add 3-5 subheads, fill in each and wrap it up with a restatement of the original point.

Then I add lots of links, tips, tools and additional reading to make it as useful as possible. The last thing I add is the headline. I use SEO plugin to create URL, title, and description but the headline is there to grab attention in places like Twitter and RSS readers.

I asked Seth Godin, Mitch Joel, Ann Handley, Mark Schaefer, CC Chapman, Ian Cleary and Brian Solis two questions related to today’s post and I’ve included their thoughts here to give you even more insight into the practices of others who write.

My questions:
1) Describe your blog editorial process: how you decide what to write about
2) Describe your blog writing process: how you attack the actual process of writing a post
Their answers:

Seth Godin

sethIt doesn’t matter.

If you had Elvis’ microphone, you wouldn’t sing like Elvis, nor would you want to.

Readers don’t care about shovels, they care about holes!

Mitch Joel

mitchEditorial process: At the beginning of every day, I scan my email inbox. I subscribe to a significant amount of e-newsletters and I use this as my pure inspiration. If there’s something that really pops up, I tend to save it in an email inbox folder titled “blog.” Over the course of the day, if I find anything else that inspires, I also file it there by sending myself an email. When I finally feel like I am ready to write, there is usually one theme that bubbles up to the top and that’s the one that I roll with. My typical blogging time is at the end of the day, but inspiration can hit at any time… from anywhere.

Writing process: This pretty straightforward. I start with the title and just blog. Once the first draft is done, I do a quick spellcheck and glance for grammar. I review the post a couple of times and put in the tags last.

Brian Solis

solisAbout the only plan I bring to the table is the desire to blog and to do so with rhythm and passion. While I don’t maintain an editorial calendar, I do keep an open mind to trends and also the ongoing challenges and questions I see people asking or attempting to address. I keep a list of ideas as they come up via Apple’s Reminder app. For the most part, I write on the weekends. It’s quieter and I can slow down and focus enough to think through what I’m writing about, who it’s for and what the takeaway will be. I’ll then publish the posts later in the week. I don’t however, write against an outline. I go with a feeling and let it evolve naturally. I think about the outcome as I go to make sure that there’s value at the end. But, often I find that what I set out to write and what I end up publishing are often two different pieces altogether.

Ann Handley

annhEditorial: At MarketingProfs, our editorial process on the text/newsletter side is generally mapped out about a month in advance (with some flexibility for timely items that deserve coverage).

We aren’t a news site with real-time coverage — instead, we publish how-to information with an eye toward filtering the noise to get to the signal. We educate marketers about what they need to know, when they need to know it.

How to we know that? We listen, read tons of blogs/sites, and rely on the PR folks we have relationships with, as well. We also practice what I call “social prospecting,” looking for good writers/speakers/story or session ideas via social networks.

The one exception to my statement about us “not being a news site” relates to our research summaries (here’s an example: http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2013/10730/internet-ad-revenue-breaks-record-mobile-achieves-111-yoy-growth) and opinions (www.mpdailyfix.com), which are timely and newsworthy, but not necessarily breaking.

On my own site (AnnHandley.com), I feel no pressure to produce. So I only create content there when I can’t stand not to, and I don’t have anything that remotely resembles an editorial calendar. For example, after seeing Sheryl Sandberg speak in Boston recently, I felt compelled to write this (link), because I couldn’t not write about it. So the things I create there are far more emotionally charged for me. But the trade-off is that I post waaay less frequently.

Writing: I almost always start with a headline that expresses my distinct point of view, which becomes a sort of Blog Mission Statement for the whole post.

That headline doesn’t always end up being the one I use on publication, but it always gives me a framework and perspective to work from. This is critical for me because, as someone who started my career as a newspaper reporter, I sometimes find it a challenge to put “me” into the story, and to not feel like I have to cover an issue comprehensively, like a news reporter might. That was a huge shift for me, when I started blogging.

I know lots of people use word outlines and graphical organizers and mind maps and the like. But I’ve always been terrible at that. (Side note: I was always also terrible at diagramming sentences. Something about it feels like foisting math sensibilities onto the mystery and poetry of the written word. Also, I’m allergic to math.)

I’ll add one more thing about writing a post or article or pretty much anything: Sometimes writing comes easily, and the words flow onto the page as easily as soft butter onto warm toast. But that’s rare. More often than not, the words are like cold butter on sandwich bread: When you try to work it, the whole thing ends up kind of a mess.

It’s disheartening. Sometimes you cry. But if you keep at it, it somehow works out.

Writing is relatively easy. Good writing is very, very, very hard.

CC Chapman

ccEditorial: I wish I was more of a planner who would lay out a full editorial calendar, but that isn’t how I work (although I do it for clients all the time.)

For me when I get inspired, I write. Sometimes if I just have an idea and don’t have enough time to do all the full post so I’ll start a new post in wordpress and leave it as a draft. I’ve got tons of these and on days when I’m stuck for something to write I’ll go through the drafts and pick one.

I am constantly consuming content from every source imaginable and many times that will inspire what I decide to write about, but sometimes it comes from going for a walk, taking a shower or any other random time.

Writing: For me, I always write the post first. I’ll sit down and brain dump the idea directly into word press. Sometimes the headline comes first, but even if I have an idea for it, usually by the time I’m done writing it will evolve and change.

I proof read it at least twice with the final time being in a preview window so I’m reading it as it will look live on the site. This helps me notice strange formatting and since it is bigger text then the editor, I tend to notice mistakes a bit quicker.

Mark Schaefer

schaeferEditorial: I have absolutely no editorial calendar, which I find rather liberating. I write about whatever interests me and try to write ahead so I have at least 10 or so posts ready if I need them. To me, scheduling the blog is kind of what it must be like to conduct a symphony. You want it to flow in a harmonious way, pulling here and there to get just the right mix. I want there to be an ideal blend of tips, insights, opinion, and fun. Most of all it is has to be interesting and one way to accomplish this is to be flexible enough to write about what is happening now, not what was scheduled a month ago. It works for me, anyway!

Ian Cleary

ianEditorial: I only write about social media tools and technology and I get ideas from a variety of sources including tweets, subscribers that ask me questions, reading other blog posts and monitoring keywords related to social media tools and technology. I also often get an idea when I’m in the car or working out in the gym so I jot it down or create a task.

All content ideas goes into an editorial calendar called Divvyhq. There’s a place to park ideas and a place for scheduled content. Since using an editorial calendar I’ve got more consistent with my blogging and I’m not stuck for new content ideas because I’m always adding new ideas.

Writing: I go to Divvyhq and pick a post off my list or come up with a new topic basic on a combination of a couple of items on the list.

I then do some initial keyword research using Google keyword tool and SEOMoz to see if there are useful keywords I can target for the blog post.

I write an initial headline which I’ll always tweak a few times before publishing. I try to grab attention with my opening line and then outline what the angle of the story is. If I have some research or a quote to use I’ll add it in straight after this. I’ll then write the body of the post and finish off with what I want the reader to remember with a call to action to put in a comment!

When the first part of the post is written I’ll go to photopin and find some images to add to the post and then I’ll optimize the content for search engines.

When I post the content I schedule it as I have set days for publishing. When it is published it automatically goes out twitter using dlvr.it. but then I’ll manually post the content on a variety of platforms such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Inbound.org and Scoop.it. I also reach out to relevant audiences that might be interested in the post to encourage them to come back and read it. When I get comments I try to respond immediately to them.

So, since you made it this far I wonder if you might add your process?

5 We Are All Artists Now

Marketing podcast with Seth Godin

seth godin icarus deceptionFew people have captured the post industrial world of work like Seth Godin. Now, you may think of him as a marketer – and he is a brilliant one indeed. I believe, however, his greatest contribution to business is the very clear message about how work has evolved from one of factories and rules to one of making ideas and art.

To be sure there are still many who play in the world of producing things by way of orderly process but, increasingly, people are trying things on the side of design and causing a good ruckus while they play.

As the cost of making things, trying things, starting companies and practicing your art has come down, so too has the cost of failure. Trying your idea out and failing is not such a big deal any more, playing it safe and normal is.

I spoke with Seth Godin for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and he shared his thoughts on some of the myths and deceptions that hold people back.

Godin recently set the publishing world abuzz, once again, by using a crowdfunding service to prove that people were interested in the notion of his next book before he ever sought a publisher to produce it. With a guaranteed large print run in hand he was able to dictate, to a large extent, the type of deal he wanted.

In his now published work, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly, Godin reveals the often mistold told story or Icarus. As most people will recall, Icarus famously flew too close to the sun against his fathers advice. This act of hubris led to his demise. The lesson of course, is don’t try to soar too high, right?

The part of the story that is rarely told is that his father also told him not to fly too low as the salt and mist of the sea was equally fatal. Godin’s contention is that the current environments of work, school and even organized religion are often to blame for people aiming too low.

The Icarus Deception is above all things a cry for a revolution of sorts. A cry to get more people to start sharing their ideas, designing their lives and telling people about their art.

One of the best ways to embrace this idea may be to attend one of the more than 1,000 Icarus Sessions happening on Jan 2. You can find or organize an Icarus Session here and read all about how the sessions work here.

6 Pitch Perfect Crowdfunding

This is installment number two of a series: Crowdfunding: A playbook and case study. (Check out the entire series here)

photo credit: Haags Uitburo via photo pin cc

Today’s post focuses on making a compelling pitch and determining how to create incentives that draw the interest needed in order get your project funded.

Most crowdfunding pitches offer things like early or deeply discounted product access, elevated customer status, exclusive events and branded articles like t-shirts and mugs as a way to raise interest and additional investment.

There’s a real balance between being able to explain what your thing does, why they should back it and what, precisely, you want people to do in a way that leaves no doubt and creating incentives that get them excited about being a part of the launch.

My belief is there are few incentives that can overcome a boring or confusing project pitch, but it’s the perfect balance of value and creativity that seems to make the difference.

The Message

It’s essential that you’re able to sum up your project in as few words as possible. Imagine you’ve got about thirty seconds to get a room full of skeptics to fork over some money for something they’ve never heard of or seen before – maybe they don’t even realize the problem your product or service addresses exists.

So, what would that pitch sound like?

Here are some tips:

  • Compare to something they already understand – “It’s like an iPhone, but you wear it on your wrist”
  • Attack the demon head on – “This tool helps you get paid on time”
  • Play to a strong sense of community – “We’re helping independent musicians survive in today’s economy. ”
  • Exploit coolness – “A Living Canvas for your Instagram Photos”

Now start segmenting.

Once you create your pitch you’ve got to start thinking about the story for multiple audiences. The trick is to make your story as personal as possible, but keep it relevant for the reader.

A pitch to Aunt Betty is going to be along the lines of “you know you said I’m your favorite niece, right?” but your 473 Twitter followers are going to need something else all together.
Count on creating a short video that engages visitors in the possibilities, community, story, dreams and vision attached to your project.

Prove that you can pull this off – people want to back underdogs, but make them want to win as much as you want to win – that’s how you get people to share with their networks – share your future as if you’ve made it.

Here’s how my case study subject ZebraCard project sponsor Nick Carter explains his approach to this.

“I am a big fan of writing the pitch as appropriate to the relationship I have with the recipient. I’m often disgusted at people who try to craft emails to me as if we were best buds when in fact, there is no prior relationship. I wrote 3 messages. 1 was a personal letter to our closest partners, affiliates, and loyal referral partners. 2 was to the remainder of our customer base. The 3rd was to our subscriber base from the many other lead-gen campaigns we’ve conducted over the years. Each was written with the appropriate level of familiarity or formality.”

The Incentives

Here I think creativity and relevance are so crucial. It’s not enough, in my view, to offer product that’s equivalent with a funding level. Incentive levels, and you have many, are a tremendous way to demonstrate the level of excitement, commitment and buzz you can generate. Remember, funding is only step one, this is a public display of the market viability of your company as well so don’t phone this one in.

The first thing you should do is study every successful project you can on Fundable, Kickstarter and Indiegogo. What’ you’ll likely see are some patterns of value and increasingly levels of exclusivity.

One of my favorite examples comes from, no surprise, a super marketer, Seth Godin’s Icarus Project. Go check it out thoroughly.

Admittedly, Godin has built a huge tribe and his choice of a this crowdfunding mechanism is part showmanship on display, but he gets the incentive game like no one I know.

The first think to note is there’s something for everyone, even those that just want to play – there’s a $4 level that still offers great value. He also creates tension by offering levels that clearly offer the most value to someone that really just wants the book. To me, he’s made it obvious where to go if your main interest is getting the information, but he’s also loaded it with the most value.

Then he creates levels that allow his followers to get exclusivity and access that have little to with the product – he’s offering an experience to those in his tribe that want and can afford that.

Here’s advice that crowdfunding service Fundable offers its project sponsors – “Once you’ve identified your group of potential backers- it’s also important to structure your rewards tiers in the most compelling way possible- taking into account what is most interesting to their particular group. It sounds obvious, but people often walk away with a new rewards structure after they’ve had a chance to analyze and decide on their target outreach groups. Once you know who you’re hoping to attract, it’s easier to come up with rewards that are desirable to them.”

Now, not everyone has the marketing background, reputation or backlog of desirable incentives to offer, so it’s important that you also make it clear what you want someone to do and why they should choose a certain level.

Here’s how ZebraCard approached it.

“My #1 goal was to get business cards with the ZebraCard code on them into circulation. So, I made sure to offer incentives that would not only be valuable to the backers, but also achieve that goal. I made sure there was an easy entry point ($10) that still had something of value in exchange so it didn’t feel like an all-out donation.”

Okay, that’s it for this week – next week we’ll take a look at how to get the word out to the various communities that you’ll tap.

Got any great crowdfunding stories or advice? Please share in comments.

Seth Godin Pokes His Own Box

Marketing podcast with Seth Godin (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Poke the Box Seth GodinMy guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is best selling author, blogger, Squidoo creator Seth Godin. In this episode we discuss Seth’s new book – Poke the Box.

While the book comes in at only 80 pages, perhaps the biggest punch it packs is the one aimed at the traditional book publishing industry. Seth produced this book, not with his former publisher Portfolio, but with a start up project, jointly created with Amazon, called The Domino Project.

Few people in the business ranks have been as successful at launching a book as Seth and true to form, Godin is turning the book industry on its side with a $4.99 Kindle version, a 5 pack and 52 pack and a limited edition letterpress cover edition.

Many in the publishing industry are keeping a close eye on this project. While there’s little doubt in my mind that Godin is that concerned about the financial aspects of this endeavor, preferring instead to focus on poking his own box, it will be interesting to see how this pans out.

Godin was paid at the top of the category by his publisher and will need to sell far more copies of Poke the Box in this pricing model than the traditional royalty driven route. The big question for some in the publishing industry is what kind of distribution the big book chains will give to an Amazon produced book. The book also promises to sell far more digital copies than previous Godin books, a category that traditional credibility lists, such as the New York Times, have been slow to acknowledge.

As the book Poke the Box suggests, however, you don’t make your mark by following the status quo, you make your mark by creating the status quo. According to Godin he would rather make a ruckus than be a hypocrite and took this route to be an example of those that change, poke and lead.

We are living in an era where the news in the newspaper is old before it hits our driveway real time, public interaction with small groups of customer is now, not only possible, it’s essential – and perhaps this includes the packaging of ideas that have commerce.

Godin’s message in this book is that we need to think more like computer programmers, we need to test and improve, test and improve in real time where the cost of failure is nothing. We are not General Motors, we are an idea economy that rewards initiative over perfection.

Searching for the next big idea is a form of hiding – being wiling to ship something and not worry about failure is Poking the Box.

A distinction that Godin adds is that if you don’t finish, the starting doesn’t matter. Ideas are worth nothing, finishing is what’s valuable.

Godin is a master at creating compelling ideas out of very few words and this is a book that is both very important and very simple to consume.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

30 Mooing On

Linchpin will likely not be the last book Seth Godin publishes in a traditional way.

If you live primarily inside the echo chamber of the online marketing world you’ve undoubtedly heard that Seth Godin, author of at least 12 books that we know of, has pulled the plug on the publishing industry by proclaiming that he no longer intends to publish books the way they are traditionally published. You can get the full story on Seth’s blog, from MediaBistro and even the Wall Street Journal.

Now, before I go any further it must be stated that I am a fan – I am inspired by Seth’s writing and have been blessed by his support on more then one occasion. We have the same publisher and he was kind enough to write testimonials for the jacket of both my books. He is the real deal and has a following that any business or business person would envy. But, let’s keep this in perspective. This is not the end of traditional publishing as we know it, it’s not even the end of traditional publishing as Seth knows it.

Business books, and sadly marketing books, make up a very small chunk of the book publishing world, but even inside this rather small bubble, this is simply a statement that content consumption has evolved. We know that, we’ve all responded to that, but more than anyone else I know Seth has a knack for clearly stating the things we’ve all been standing around thinking – some may not agree, but that’s a skill set that turns people into thought leaders.

Seth Godin

Business book writers don’t really have to be that good at writing. I include myself in that last statement. I don’t think my publisher cares so much about what I can write. They do care deeply about what I can sell. That’s the reality that irks some, but it’s a fact. I have no idea if I’m a good writer or not – although three or four pages into a Don DeLillo novel and I realize how terribly inappropriate it would be call myself an author – but I love that people are inspired to action by something I’ve figured out how to put on paper – the digital and print kind. Not that the world is waiting for me to weigh in, but I do intend to continue to publish in the traditional sense because I still enjoy it and think that the majority of content consumers enjoy it as well.

Seth Godin can afford to move to non-traditional forms of publishing because he has access to traditional forms of publishing and distribution. If you’re a book buyer, you are going to stock Seth Godin’s next hardback. If you’re a world class book editor, you’re going to enjoy editing Seth Godin’s next book. Seth Godin actually stands to make more money from a book he can self publish because he has the platform to do so. This move makes sense and is not a completely bold or trailblazing one. But, let’s wait and see when it hits the shelves.

The Wall Street Journal article cited above states that Linchpin has sold roughly 50,000 copies. That’s a nice number, that’s a number that gets you Wall Street Journal and New York Times Best Seller status in the world of business books. Jonathan Franzen has a new book coming out next week. (Yes, there’s a Kindle version) His last book sold 2.85 million copies and I’ll bet the majority of business book fans couldn’t name it. So, before we go off and do away with the traditional print and distribution models understand that more than anything else, Seth wants to have a conversation with his fans and if he has something to say, you can bet he will generously say it in as many forms as are deemed necessary.

Perhaps the biggest winners from the buzz of Seth moving on are the self-publishing industry and authors without a sufficient platform to attract the attention of a Portfolio.

35 The Referral Engine Launch Day Bonus

Note: When an author launches a new book (well, at least this author) it’s kind of a big personal deal. So, I know I’ve been a bit commercial of late in promotion of my new book, but the good news is today is launch day so regular old thoughts on helping your grow your business to return. Thanks for your patience, trust and support.

The Referral EngineMy new book, The Referral Engine – Teaching Your Business To Market Itself is finally available to ship! In fact, the online retailers are blowing it out at as low as 55% off during the launch. Go to The Referral Engine book site for details.

The buzz for the book online has been tremendous and the reviews over the top positive. To continue the momentum I want to make you an offer to take action today. I have a library of incredible interviews available exclusively to those who buy my new book today.

Here’s the deal –

The book has received praise from the following thought and business leaders in the form of a blurb on the book’s jacket.

As a bonus for purchasing today you’ll receive audio recordings of the interviews I did with each. These are not pitches for the book, these are deep conversations about their thoughts on marketing and business.

  • Chris Brogan, coauthor of Trust Agents
  • Seth Godin, author of Linchpin
  • Guy Kawasaki, cofounder of Alltop
  • David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR
  • Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com
  • Bob Burg, coauthor of The Go-Giver and Go-Givers Sell More
  • Marcy Shinder, vice president, American Express OPEN

I addition I’ve included double bonus interviews from some of the people you’ll meet in the book who also know a thing or two about referrals.

  • Ivan Misner, founder of BNI
  • Stephen MR Covey, author of The Speed of Trust
  • Scott Ginsberg, The Nametag Guy
  • Zingermans Community of Businesses, a chat with Ari and Mo

That’s 11 interviews in all with some folks I consider the brightest minds in marketing today.

Order today and send a copy of your receipt to john@ducttapemarketing.com and you’ll receive your special link to download or listen to this entire library.

Go to The Referral Engine book site to choose your favorite online retailer – you can also send me the receipt from an offline retailer to qualify as well.

Thanks for all your support, you truly inspire me.

4 Why Word of Mouth Doesn't Happen

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

Sometimes, what you do is done as well as it can be done. It’s a service that people truly love, or a product they can’t live without. You’re doing everything right, but it’s not remarkable, at least not in the sense of “worth making a remark about.”

What’s up with that?

Here’s a smörgåsbord of reasons:

  1. It’s embarrassing to talk about. That’s why VD screening, no matter how well done, rarely turns into a viral [ahem] success.
  2. There’s no easy way to bring it up. This is similar to number 1, but involves opportunity. It’s easy to bring up, “hey, where’d you get that ring tone?” because the ring tone just interrupted everyone. It’s a lot harder to bring up the fact that you just got a massage.
  3. It might not feel cutting edge enough for your crowd. So, it’s not the thing that’s embarrassing, it’s the fact they you just found out about it. Don’t bring up your brand new Tivo with your friends from MIT. They’ll sneer at you.
  4. On a related front, it might feel too popular to profitably sneeze about. Sometimes bloggers hesitate to post on a popular source or topic because they worry they’ll seem lazy.
  5. You might like the exclusivity. If you have no trouble getting into a great restaurant or a wonderful club, perhaps you won’t tell the masses because you’re selfish…
  6. You might want to keep worlds from colliding. Some kids, for example, like the idea of being the only kid from their school at the summer camp they go to. They get to have two personalities, be two people, keep things separate.
  7. You might feel manipulated. Plenty of hip kids were happy to talk about Converse, but once big, bad Nike got involved, it felt different. Almost like they were being used.
  8. You might worry about your taste. Recommending a wine really strongly takes guts, because maybe, just maybe, your friends will hate the wine and think you tasteless.
  9. There are probably ten other big reasons, but they all lead to the same conclusions:

First, understand that people talk about you (or not talk about you) because of how it makes them feel, not how it makes you feel.

Second, if you’re going to build a business around word of mouth, better not have these things working against you.

Third, if you do, it may be a smart strategy to work directly to overcome them. That probably means changing the fundamental DNA of your experience and the story you tell to your users. “If you like us, tell your friends,” might feel like a fine start, but it’s certainly not going to get you there.

What will change the game is actually changing the game. Changing the experience of talking about you so fundamentally that people will choose to do it.

Seth Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world. His most recent titles include The Dip and Linchpin. His books have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change and work.

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