The Weird and Wonderful World According to Seth Godin

By Marni Manko

November 1, 2013

Revolutions destroy the perfect and enable the impossible—and we're in the midst of a revolution right now. But this isn't any ordinary revolution of the agricultural/industrial type. This is the connection revolution, and it's forever changing the marketing landscape.Seth Godin

Or so said lauded author and marketer Seth Godin at this week's ClickTale Forum, where he regaled a crowd of marketers with his tales of revolution and changing the world.

Godin contends that the advent of the Internet has killed cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all mass marketing. It's the ghost of marketers' past. And in its place? Weird. Yep, he believes that in our hyper-connected world, weird is the new normal, and unless marketers get with the program, they're going to get left behind in a sea of oneness.

What's floating in this sea? Three fundamental issues that all marketers now face:

  1. People think they have a problem that you can’t solve. So they don’t listen.

  1. We’ve persuaded people that everything is the same.

  1. We’ve cluttered the market. We’ve branded ourselves to death. You can’t corner the market anymore, it just doesn’t work like it used to.

What should marketers do? According to Godin, they need to start getting down with the weird.

“The good news is that for the first time in 100 years, marketers have a way to treat people individually,” Godin said. “Every time someone listens to you, they self identify as weird. All successful brands from the past 10 years are for weird people. They’re on the edge. They’re not for the masses. We’ve created this world where more and more people get what they need. Human beings aren’t good at following but we’re really good at figuring out where we want to go. And humans are better at connecting than anything else we do,” he contended.

So how can savvy marketers be in the forefront of this connection revolution? Here’s what Godin had to say:

• The connection economy is all about abundance. With the Internet comes an infinite amount of ideas and people. Being a part of something now is more important than ever and connections are what we seek out.

• This isn’t about capitalism. It’s about a system of pushing and optimizing to make the yield go up.

• Essential in this economy are generosity and art. No one wants to connect with a selfish or boring organization. People want interesting and caring. When these two things are present, people will jump over fences to get what you're offering.

• People want to connect with what's alive, what's bubbling, what they can connect with on a profound level. We don't need competence. Competence is a cheap commodity these days.

• You have to be in the business of connection. The power of your network goes up by the square of the people who use it. Use your tactical and optimization skills for this purpose.

• The people who bring a different point of view are the ones people want to listen to.

• Average is not beautiful. By definition, average is the same. In this day and age, being the same as everyone else means you'll fail. Don’t be afraid to treat people differently.

• You have to be willing to be wrong, to skin your knee. Staying off course is part of it. If you veer, you adjust—you don't question the mission, you just change the tactic.

But at the very heart of it, Godin believes that in order to ride the revolution, you need to let go of the old way of marketing and embrace the new. “What we need from marketers is what we learned from Superman,” he summed up. “Kryptonite made him vulnerable. The world of innovation says we need insight, but failure usually isn’t an option. But if failure is not an option, neither is success.”

Marni Manko is Monetate's former director of content marketing. After spending years as a fashion & lifestyle editor writing for publishers like Condé Nast and Niche Media, she was online editor for Comcast Interactive Media, and lead writer on ING DIRECT’s brand strategy team, where she headed up its award-winning blog.

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