This week I had the opportunity to attend the Art Of Marketing conference, which was held in my hometown of Vancouver, BC. The line-up of speakers was fantastic (Brian Wong, Mitch Joel, and Keith Ferrazzi just to name a few), and just as I expected, the insights they shared were priceless.
Among those speakers was the one and only Seth Godin – the man whom almost all marketers are familiar with. His blog has been ranked the #1 marketing blog on the web, and he has published over a dozen bestselling books throughout his career. By the time he finished his 60 minute keynote, I had already filled up over 4 pages of notes.
Here are some of the valuable pieces of of marketing advice he shared with the audience at this event:
1. We are living in an “Expression Economy”
This was actually the first time I heard someone use the term expression economy. Essentially, we are living in a time where anyone with a laptop or mobile device has the ability to become a media channel, create content, and build a tribe of followers. This means that marketers are no longer competing with other marketers for the attention of their target audience – they are competing with everyone.
Consequently, the battle that marketers are facing on a daily basis is no longer a battle for consumers’ dollars – it is a battle for their time. Our time has become our most scarce and precious resource. As marketers, we must provide value to the consumer in exchange for the time they spend engaging with us.
2. Mass marketing is becoming increasingly ineffective
Mass marketing was the natural result of the industrial revolution. Large corporations created average products for average people (the “masses”) and distributed those products to those people. Mass marketing was created as a means to spread awareness of those products and services to the masses.
Today, mass marketing is often referred to as interruption marketing. Mass marketers are essentially interrupting the consumer with their message – hoping that if they interrupt them enough they will eventually buy. However, most consumers have evolved from responding to this form of marketing, to tolerating it, to ignoring it.
Mass marketing is going to keep getting more expensive and less effective. We need to shift from interrupting the consumer to getting their permission (ahem… permission marketing) to share our message with them. If you don’t have their permission, you don’t have their attention.
“Marketers need to learn what it means to be welcome in someone’s inbox.”
3. Competence is no longer a scarce commodity
We are living in a global economy. As a result, there is almost no task or project that cannot be completed by highly skilled individuals for extremely competitive rates. This means that the barriers to entry in business are lower than ever before. Inexpensive technology and the ability to outsource talent enables bootstrapping entrepreneurs to compete in the marketplace on a shoe string budget. There is also an incredible abundance of inexpensive resources – online courses, video tutorials, ebooks, blog articles – that allow us to learn virtually any skill from the comfort of our home.
4. Create a culture, don’t just accept one
Human beings are hardwired with a primal instinct to belong to a community – a tribe. People want to belong to a tribe of like-minded people. Tribes are groups of people connected by a common ideal, goal, or mission, and within each tribe is a certain culture – a set of acceptable beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.
The world has more followers than it does leaders, and marketers need to be leaders. Consumers want you to care, and they want you to lead them. Marketing is about finding that specific tribe of people you want to serve and saying to them “follow me”. You don’t follow trends, you create them. You don’t join tribes, you lead them.
“Sheep aren’t good marketers.”
5. If you make boring stuff for average people, you are in trouble
The game of making boring stuff for average people is a race to the bottom, where the lowest price wins. To succeed in the marketplace today and to be able to demand a premium for your products or services, you must be the one for which there is no substitute. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing or what has always been done before. Have the courage to identify precisely who your ideal customer is (no, it’s not everyone) and focus on solving their unique problems in a way that has never been done before.
“If they don’t miss you when you’re gone, make something better.”
6. If failure is not an option, then neither is success
Seth Godin defined innovation as failing repeatedly until you find what works. If you truly want to make an impact in people’s lives, you need to be an innovator. You need to try the untried, attempt the impossible, and learn from your results. Nothing new is ever created without innovation, and innovation is impossible without trial and error. Expect to meet with failure as you venture into unknown territory. Don’t try to avoid mistakes – embrace them. Mistakes and failures are the stepping stones to success.
“A dangerous leap is the only kind of leap that matters. Throw yourself off the cliff, and grow wings on the way down.”