Like it or Not, You’re a Marketer

All Marketers Are Liars From the cover of All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin

If you run a blog or website you can learn a lot from the world’s marketing mavericks. Even if you’re not making any money (or intending to).

You can unlock these lessons by making a mental switch.

  • Blog or website = product.
  • You = marketer.
  • Customers = readers.
  • Instead of buying the product, you want readers to consume it (to read what you write).

With these easy substitutions in place the new marketers have plenty to teach us. In this post, I want to share some of the key lessons I’ve learned from Seth Godin in particular.

Why going viral is more powerful than word of mouth

For some time I understood ‘viral’ to be a catchier way of saying ‘word of mouth’. I’ve even said as much on this blog, and for that I apologize (proof that I’m still learning as much as anyone else is). Here’s Seth Godin on why viral marketing is not the same as word of mouth.

I found his explanation a little dense, so I want to illustrate it with an example from my day-to-day life.

I discovered a fantastic restaurant in the CBD closest to where I live. They have huge, delicious gourmet pizzas big enough to make two people feel full for a very reasonable price.

After going there to have dinner with my mother, I was determined to introduce my friends to the restaurant’s wonders. I must have raved about it to five friends now. That’s word of mouth marketing.

Why isn’t it viral marketing? Because as far as I know none of the people I’ve told have taken the next step and visited the restaurant (I think they’re waiting for me to take them!).

For viral marketing to take place, they’d have to visit and then go one step further: tell more friends, who would tell their friends, and so on. That’s viral marketing.

Word of mouth marketing happens at the individual level. An individual experiences something and tells others about it.

Viral marketing is collective: an individual experiences something, tells five others. Those five others tell five friends… and on it goes.

For that reason, viral marketing is infinitely more powerful than word of mouth. You want your content, or the idea behind your site, to go viral. It will mean you need to spend less time pushing your own stuff because other people will do it for you.

How much is a reader really worth?

“The true, current value of any one customer is a function of the customer’s future purchases, across all the product lines, brands, and services offered by you.”

– Seth Godin, Permission Marketing: Turning Into Friends and Friends Into Customers, p. 69.

Let’s flip this quote around.

“The true, current value of any one reader is a function of the reader’s future engagement, contributions, links, votes and recommendations across all the content you offer.”

This helps us to think of individual readers differently. We might no longer feel that it’s wise not to read comments, to ignore emails that are ‘too hard’, or to break promises when they become inconvenient.

The importance of being remarkable

Seth Godin outlines ten short points to help you be remarkable. It’s a nice read, but you might wonder how it applies to what we do.

If you’re not unique, you’ll always be constrained by the success of those you’re imitating. Sometimes it can be tempting to try and achieve success by numbers: this site is successful, so if I do what they’re doing, I’ll be successful too.

In fact, this is a guaranteed way to cripple your route to success from the outset.

If you’re providing the same things that those bigger than you provide, readers will always choose the authority over the unproven imitator.

Uniqueness alone is not the same as being remarkable. Remarkable innovation needs to satisfy a demand which hasn’t been met yet, or solve a problem better than anyone else. Is your content remarkable?

Interruptions vs. Interactions

Seth Godin teaches that interaction is far more powerful than interruption. For this reason, the What Would Seth Godin Do? WordPress plugin has always puzzled me.

I think it’s exactly what Seth Godin wouldn’t do (though correct me if I’m wrong — I’m no expert).

The plug-in creates a box-out on your blog or website that only new visitors can see. The text within the box urges the visitor to subscribe to your feed or email updates, before they’ve had a chance to work out if they like your content or not.

If there’s no pre-existing relationship of trust and good faith before you try to get the visitor to do something, it’s an interruption, not an interaction.

For the plug-in to be worthy of its name it would pop-up after the third or fourth visit from a particular IP address. Once there’s a pre-existing relationship, your offer becomes an interaction.

This is why I always advocate that new sites start without advertising. When there’s no pre-existing relationship, ads are an interruption.

When you’ve established a relationship with a network of people who like you and your content, ads start to become more like interactions.

Ask yourself: is what I’m doing an interaction, or an interruption?

The next step

The aim of this post isn’t to archive every lesson new marketers can teach bloggers. There are too many. What’s revelatory for me will be ho-hum for you. Besides, they said it better.

The key to interpreting new marketing advice is worth repeating.

  • Blog or website = product.
  • You = marketer.
  • Customers = readers.
  • Instead of buying the product, you want readers to consume it (to read what you write).

With those switches in mind, I’d recommend going to your local library and borrowing some Seth Godin.

His blog is one of my favorites, and works a lot like a serialized book. NorthxEast reader engtech recommends Made to Stick, too.

You won’t be able to use every piece of advice given, but some of it will be a revelation.

About Skellie

Massive nerd who just happens to enjoy anything related to blogging, creativity, and online marketing.

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