Brand Experience

A look at the new world of marketing with Seth Godin

What does modern marketing look like?

There are few people - if any - in the world better placed to answer this question than Seth Godin. As the author of 19 best-sellers - including This is Marketing - and pioneer of commercial email, when Seth Godin talks people listen.

According to Godin, modern marketing is “the act of doing work people care and talk about. It’s driven by experiences and social purpose. And making things better by making better things.”

This ethos of making the world a better place is a core part of Seth’s approach to marketing. The best work, he says, is grounded in generosity, empathy, and emotional labor. Three things consumers are placing greater value in right now, according to Qualtrics research.

“If you’re not seeking to make a positive change, why do it in the first place?

“The labor we use to make things better is what differentiates someone who is just a cog in the system, and someone who is standing tall and leading. Because you only get today once, and to spend it in a way that makes a contribution feels like a worthy way to spend your time,” says Godin.

Examples of good modern marketing

If you’re looking for a list of brands that are doing modern marketing well, Godin suggests you only have to ask yourself a series of questions.

“Name any brand you care about. Name any organization you’d miss if it disappeared. Name any brand you’d gladly pay attention to what they do and eagerly pay a little extra for what they make.

“If a brand is on this list for you, it’s a brand where a human showed up and did something that mattered.”

Relearn what’s important to your customers

In the current economic climate, marketers find themselves in a unique and challenging situation: the pandemic is changing consumer behaviors and needs, and budgets are being tightened. For businesses, it means you are navigating a new normal, and need to spend wisely to have an impact.

It’s a new world, and businesses cannot assume that what you knew about customers previously remains true today. This knowledge gap is why a critical step to marketing in a new world is knowing the issues your market cares about, says Godin.

“People have a choice. If you want the people you care about to see you, care about your brand, buy from you...you have to have empathy for who they are and what they care about.

“If you don’t care enough to extend yourself to have empathy for the few you seek to engage with, they won’t extend themselves to see you.”

Identify the right message for the right audience

As businesses navigate this new normal, going to market with the right message and being able to rapidly adjust it for different situations is critical for cutting through. Because what you say, how you say it, and who you say it to will impact immediate behaviors and longer-term sentiment and trust.

To make sure you’re going to market with the right message and activity that will help your brand, Godin recommends prioritizing your efforts on a select group that is truly interested in your brand and what you do. He calls this your smallest viable market.

By engaging your smallest viable market with the right message and engagements you’ll do enough to elevate your business to new heights thanks to the power of the network effect.

“Obsess about the right people. Delight them. Amaze them, Do things they eagerly want to talk about. Because if you create enough value they’ll tell the others.

“And telling the others, word of mouth, that’s the engine of the network effect and your future,” according to Godin.

The four pillars of effective marketing

To find out the issues customers care about, businesses will need to reconsider the traditional metrics used.

“Brands need to watch what people do instead of always asking them what they want. That’s because people don’t always tell you the truth, but their actions give them away,” says Godin.

Simply asking people what they want will not help marketers identify the next must-have item or TV show either. After all, the masses were not demanding a smartphone before they existed, and neither were they asking for a service like Uber.

By watching people you can figure out what it is they dream of, and then you’re able to create a transaction delivering that emotional feeling, says Godin.

“Effective marketing in the future will be built on four pillars: product design, user experience, customer service, and the network effect.

“The most effective thing marketers can do in this new world of marketing is focus on these four pillars. To earn the attention of a tribe. To do work that matters. And to show up differently. Because right now acting like a person is a lot smarter than pretending you’re a brand.

“To be successful in the new world of marketing will take leadership. Mostly, it will take the guts to do things differently. Who better than you to lead the way?”


Register for Seth's upcoming Qualtrics webinar: React, Respond, or Initiate? Marketing in a New World