Seth Godin, the American wise man who writes about everything life, business, and Internet and whose daily blog post is read by millions every morning, tells the story of being late for an appointment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and unable to find a quarter to feed the parking meter.
While fishing around in his car for a couple of quarters, Godin was approached by a homeless man.
Instead of the standard, ‘Buddy, can you spare a quarter?’ pander New Your City is famous for, the homeless man asked Godin if he had, “a dollar for four quarters?”
In fact, Godin needed four quarters the bum was offering and gladly handed over a dollar bill in exchange for the homeless man’s four quarters.
The story doesn’t end there though! Once the two men had made the coins for dollar bills exchange, the now-entrepreneurial homeless man asked Godin, “Excuse me, do you have a quarter?”
Of course, the Godin had a quarter! The homeless man had just given him four!
In the pre-Internet world, marketing was the activities of a company associated with buying and selling a mass-produced product or service.
Every marketing plan included Marketing’s four P’s; Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. Tactics like slogans, packaging design, celebrity endorsements, and general media exposure were to try to get the attention of a target market. The more consumers in the targeted market, the more money required to gain a foothold let alone increase market share one or two percent.
Traditional is the landscape of our modern lives. To the cynic, marketing is something exploitative, pandering to the lowest common denominator, trying, most of the time successfully, to make us look, feel and act all alike.
Seth Godin turns that tradition marketing model on its head. Like his dollar-for-four-quarters story above, modern marketing to Godin isn’t about selling more stuff to more people, but about leveraging empathy, connection, and emotional labor to solve as few people’s problems as economically feasible.
The four-quarters-for-a-dollar man in the story above understood Godin’s new marketing model and instead of asking for the millionth time, ‘Can you spare a quarter?’, created a customized narrative that both solved Godin’s specific quarterless dilemma in the process of creating a bit of “change” for himself.
In his 18th book just released this month, This is Marketing, Godin boils his new marketing model down to these five steps:
1. Invent a thing worth making, with a story worth telling and a contribution worth talking about.
2. Design and build the product or service in a way that a few people will benefit from and care about the product.
3. Create a story about the product that matches that small group of people.
4. Spread the word by sharing an authentic story with the right people over and over again.
5. Show up! Regularly, consistently and generously for years and years.
Marketers, in Godin’s view, make change happen not through spammy emails, mindless-slogans or empty promises but by delivering anticipated, personal, relevant, authentic messages that people actually want to get.
Bottom Line: Godin’s This is Marketing message is simple; Don’t just make noise; make the world better!