Seth Godin Marketing: Are You Building Something Average or Magical?

Seth Godin is one of the most engaging speakers in the world. He takes the stage and quickly grabs your attention with stories that inspire you and ideas that jolt your worldview.

This talk is no different as he explores what leadership looks like today during a changing system today.

Where does the magic happen?

Most people think we need to address the external stuff, strategy, tactics, tips, if we do that enough it will be a lever to help people change their internal narrative. As people trying to make a difference we are addressing the internal and along the way, people become enrolled in getting the tactics and strategies.

The systems we are playing in are changing faster than anyone may realize. As we went from vinyl records to digital formats the system changed but there is more music than ever. Some will see this as a blank slate other will feel lost.

The Four Letter Word “More”

More market share, more sales, more revenue. The word “more” leads to mass marketing which means average stuff for average people. This is problematic. Most of the people you’re trying to reach don’t have the problem you’re trying to solve, or they don’t think they do. It has been stated that the average consumer today has the attention span of a goldfish. So we are treating people like goldfish so we dumb down our products and message. But these are human beings and we are just making the problem worse.

Sort By Price

Mass marketing means people will be hit over and over and interrupted by ads as products fight to stand out. But now, every digital good aimed at the masses will be subject to sort-by-price or distance…etc. They will choose the cheap one because they are all the same, they are all average. People no longer want to hear from the marketer anymore.


As more clutter of average products saturate the market and fight for attention the desire for more or to see the line graph go “up and to the right” leads to compromise. The bad news is that you cannot interrupt yourself into success. This is a losing situation.

Normal Distribution

Everyone in the world can engage with you but at the same time, everyone in the world is your competitor.

But when you’re going to the market with your product you must understand that not everyone, the mass market, cares.

There is a law of distribution to consider.

Referencing distribution chart shown below there three key areas. This will apply to any population.

  1. The first part is a small percentage of early adopters who care.
  2. The middle is the average person who could care less.
  3. The final part is the people who are last to the party. As Godin states, they are the people with the “12” still flashing on their VCR.

“If you’re seduced by the mass-market mindset you’re going to be confused for a long time to come.” Seth Godin

Where Is The Magic?

Godin goes on to explain that he believes there are multiple steps of what we make when we make something important.

Those steps include:

  1. Transforms from the people you reach to create an identity and drive loyalty (loyalty means they would pay extra when they have a choice)
  2. Some of those people will tell friends
  3. You shift the culture of a group

Linkages and Storytelling: The Stories You Tell Matter

Understanding how things work together is essential for growing your movement or business. Godin shares a bowling analogy by explaining that when the pins are moved 1 inch farther apart from each other you will never roll a strike, but if you move the pins 1 inch closer to each other you will roll a strike every time.

So where does it all begin? When do people first engage? Well, it’s with the story you tell. Nobody knows and if they will personally be happy with a product until they try it. Whatever course, product or craft you make starts by engaging people with a story.

We all want to make something special but over time we start making things more normal based on feedback and other external forces. As we make things more average you will fight on Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Companies that prey on people making things average because then you have to fight for attention. People tend to lower price or even raise the price but sort-by-price is a game you will never win.

Smallest Possible Audience

The way to win is to target the smallest possible audience that you can live with. They will be ignored by competition and the bigger stuff takes care of itself.

Two questions you need to ask:

  1. Who’s it for
  2. what’s it for (change you’re seeking making)

This leads to how you tell your story.

Where to Begin

We have been taught to aim for the middle because that’s where most people are but those are people that don’t care. Today more than ever before, we can find the people on the edges. The people who care.

Always start at the edge with interesting people.

All the products you know so well today started on the edges because that’s where you begin, with the interesting people.

Average is nice but not beautiful – the edge is beautiful.

Final Words

Tribes share a vision and goals, way of being in the world. There is a role for each person in this world and we like being in sync with the people around us. But we have to stop doing what we were told and take a stand as a leader.

It is important to remember that if failure is not an option, neither is success. Innovation is failing over and over until something works.

While it might be scary you must leap into the void because that’s when you’re most alive. It always feels too soon, you will always want more proof, or to be more prepared.

Sure, you can be prepared but you can never be ready!

Will you choose to matter?

[earnist ref=”leadership-of-tomorrow-with-se” id=”33616″]

Recommended Posts