This Is Marketing

What is marketing? Or what should it be. And is it ethical? Seth Godin’s This Is Marketing addresses those questions, as you can see from browsing its table of contents

I listened to This Is Marketing the third time this weekend and decided to order the print version. Why?

Because I want to browse the table of contents. I also have the Kindle version but it fails to display the entire table of contents.

A few observations and This Is Marketing and its table of contents:

  1. The book defines marketing as the author thinks it should be, not necessarily as it is.
  2. The book consists of 236 separate chapters and subsections. On the Audible version, each one is a self-contained audio recording that can be listened to by itself.
  3. The “book” is actually an “audio program”. I love this approach; you’re not listening to someone read a book, you’re listening to a radio program. I have no idea what the production process was, but it feels as though it were made as an audio program first, with the book an afterthought. Also true of Malcolm Gladwell’s recent work, Talking to Strangers.
  4. The book contains 11 case studies but only 1 is from the author’s personal experience: Vision Spring—Selling Glasses to People Who Need Them. The takeaway is to look outside your own work for case studies.
  5. B2B sales and marketing are addressed in two places, including chapter 19, section 17, “An aside about B2B marketing”; that one is a must-read/must-listen for your business.
  6. The book doesn’t give you easy answers. To implement these ideas in your marketing will take some thinking.
  7. While the Kindle version comes with a “Marketing Reading List”, only two books are endorsed in the book itself: Story Driven by Bernadette Jiwa and Impro by Keith Johnstone.
  8. You get the sense that the author is not letting on as much as he knows. In the final chapter, he casually says, “ever since Josiah Wedgewood invented marketing” while making an unrelated point. How so – how did Josiah Wedgewood invent marketing? 

This is his first book in a while directed at marketers, as opposed to business owners and entrepreneurs. But – per his discourse on psychographics vs demographics – it’s directed to a certain type of marketer.

It’s also a response to an oughts-era critique of Seth Godin by a pundit at Time magazine. For context, Time was still a respected and influential publication in the late oughts. The Time pundit said of Seth Godin’s oeuvre: “Entry you’ll never see: is marketing evil?”

Not sure how you come to that conclusion about an author whose first book, Permission Marketing (1999), basically said, “let’s use the Internet to start marketing ethically”.

A Time blogger also asserted that Seth Godin’s books “largely recycle common sense”?

Sidebar: notice the qualifier, “largely”? Avoid adjectives and adverbs in your marketing copy that hedge – take a stand. Either make an assertion or don’t; that’s how you gain trust.

But let’s thank Time and its pundits for prompting Seth Godin to write the 2009 post we’d “never see”: Is Marketing Evil?

The answers he offered in that post comprise a unifying theme to This Is Marketing. That’s because what lies at the core of the book, “Changes for the Tribe”, probably means change for the better.

Okay, enough ado.. 

This Is Marketing, Table of Contents:

  • Author’s Note
  • This Is Marketing
    • How Tall Is Your Sunflower?
    • It’s Not Going to Market Itself
    • Marketing Isn’t Just Selling Soap
    • The Market Decides
    • How to Know if You Have a Marketing Problem
    • The Answer to a Movie
    • Marketing Your Work Is a Complaint on The Way to Better
  1. Chapter One: Not Mass, Not Spam, Not Shameful . . .
    1. The Compass Points Toward Trust
    2. Marketing Is Not a Battle, and It’s Not a War, or Even a Contest
    3. The Magic of Ads Is a Trap that Keeps Us from Building a Useful Story
    4. On Getting the Word Out (Precisely the Wrong Question)
    5. Shameless Marketers Brought Shame to the Rest of Us
    6. The Lock and the Key
    7. Marketing Doesn’t Have to Be Selfish
    8. Case Study: Penguin Magic
    9. You’re Not a Cigar-Smoking Fat Cat
    10. It’s Time
  2. Chapter Two: The Marketer Learns to See
    1. Marketing in Five Steps
    2. This Is Marketing: An Executive Summary
    3. Things Marketers Know
  3. Chapter Three: Marketing Changes People Through Stories, Connections, and Experience
    1. Case Study: Vision Spring—Selling Glasses to People Who Need Them
    2. Consider the SUV
    3. That Riff About the Quarter-Inch Drill Bit
    4. People Don’t Want What You Make
    5. Stories, Connections, and Experiences
    6. Market-Driven: Who’s Driving the Bus?
    7. The Myth of Rational Choice
  4. Chapter Four: The Smallest Viable Market
    1. What Change Are You Trying to Make?
    2. What Promise Are You Making?
    3. Who Are You Seeking to Change?
    4. Worldviews and Personas
    5. Forcing a Focus
    6. Specific Is a Kind of Bravery
    7. Shun the Nonbelievers!
    8. Where Does Love Lie?
    9. “Winner Take All” Rarely Is
    10. A Simple One-Word Transformation
    11. Coloring the Ocean Purple
    12. “It’s Not for You”
    13. The Comedian’s Dilemma
    14. The Simple Marketing Promise
    15. Case Study: The Open Heart Project
  5. Chapter Five: In Search of “Better”
    1. Empathy Is at The Heart of Marketing
    2. A Million-Dollar Bargain
    3. Thinking About “Better”
    4. Better Isn’t up To You
    5. The Marketing of Dog Food
    6. Early Adopters Are Not Adapters: They Crave the New
    7. An Aside About the Reptile People Who Are Secretly Running Things
    8. Humility and Curiosity
    9. Case Study: Be More Chill—More than One Way to Make a Hit
    10. What’s a Car For?
    11. Too Many Choices
    12. Positioning as a Service
    13. Choose Your Axes, Choose Your Future
    14. So Many Choices
    15. People Are Waiting for You
    16. Your Freedom
    17. The Freedom of Better
    18. One Last Thing About Sonder
  6. Chapter Six: Beyond Commodities
    1. Problem First
    2. Does It Work?
    3. The Commodity Suckout
    4. “You Can Choose Anyone, and We’re Anyone”
    5. When You Know What You Stand For, You Don’t Need to Compete
    6. But Your Story Is a Hook
    7. Case Study: Stack Overflow Is Better
    8. Better Is up to the Users, Not up to You
    9. And We Serve Coffee
    10. The Authentic, Vulnerable Hero
    11. Service
    12. Authenticity versus Emotional Labor
    13. Who’s Talking?
  7. Chapter Seven: The Canvas of Dreams and Desires
    1. What Do People Want?
    2. Innovative Marketers Invent New Solutions that Work with Old Emotions
    3. Nobody Needs Your Product
    4. No One Is Happy to Call a Real Estate Broker
    5. Where’s the Angry Bear?
    6. What Do You Want?
    7. Always Be Testing
    8. Scrapbooking
    9. If You Had to Charge Ten Times as Much
    10. Irresistible Is Rarely Easy or Rational
  8. Chapter Eight: More of the Who: Seeking the Smallest Viable Market
    1. The Virtuous Cycle and Network Effects
    2. The Most Effective Remarkability Comes from Design
    3. And Then a Miracle Happens
    4. A Thousand True Fans
    5. But What About Hamilton?
    6. What Would Jerry Do?
    7. Taylor Swift Is Not Your Role Model
    8. All Critics Are Right (All Critics Are Wrong)
    9. Why Don’t People Choose You?
  9. Chapter Nine: People Like Us Do Things Like This
    1. Deep Change Is Difficult, and Worth It
    2. People Like Us (Do Things Like This)
    3. Case Study: The Blue Ribbons
    4. The Internal Narrative
    5. Defining “Us”
    6. Which Us?
    7. It Shouldn’t Be Called “the Culture”
    8. Just Enough Art
    9. Case Study: Gay Marriage in Ireland
    10. Elite and/or Exclusive
    11. Case Study: Robin Hood Foundation
    12. The Standing Ovation
    13. Roots and Shoots
  10. Chapter Ten: Trust and Tension Create Forward Motion
    1. Pattern Match/Pattern Interrupt
    2. Tension Can Change Patterns
    3. What Are You Breaking?
    4. Tension Is Not the Same as Fear
    5. Marketers Create Tension, and Forward Motion Relieves that Tension
    6. Are You Ready to Create Tension?
    7. How the Status Quo Got that Way
  11. Chapter Eleven: Status, Dominance, and Affiliation
    1. Baxter Hates Truman
    2. It’s Not Irrational; Status Makes It the Right Choice
    3. Status Roles: The Godfather and the Undertaker
    4. Status Lets Us
    5. Case Study: Lions and Maasai Warriors
    6. The Status Dynamic Is Always at Work
    7. Status Is Not the Same as Wealth
    8. Six Things About Status
    9. Frank Sinatra Had More than A Cold
    10. Learning to See Status
    11. Different Stories for Different People
    12. Affiliation and Dominion Are Different Ways to Measure Status
    13. Learning from Pro Wrestling
    14. The Alternative to Dominion Is Affiliation
    15. Fashion Is Usually About Affiliation
    16. Sending Dominance Signals
    17. Sending Affiliation Signals
    18. Affiliation or Dominance Is up to the Customer, Not You
  12. Chapter Twelve: A Better Business Plan
    1. Where Are You Going? What’s Holding You Back?
    2. Perhaps You’ve Seen the Shift
    3. A Glib Reverse Engineering of Your Mission Statement Isn’t Helpful
  13. Chapter Thirteen: Semiotics, Symbols, and Vernacular
    1. Can You Hear Me Now?
    2. What Does This Remind You Of?
    3. Hiring a Professional
    4. Imagine that World . . .
    5. Why Is Nigerian Spam so Sloppy?
    6. The Flags on SUVs Are Called Flares
    7. The Flag Is Not for Everyone
    8. The Same and the Different
    9. Case Study: Where’s Keith?
    10. We Add the Flags with Intent
    11. Are Brands for Cattle?
    12. Does Your Logo Matter?
  14. Chapter Fourteen: Treat Different People Differently
    1. In Search of the Neophiliacs
    2. Enrollment
    3. What Do People Want?
    4. The Superuser
    5. The Truth About Customer Contribution
    6. What’s the Purpose of This Interaction?
  15. Chapter Fifteen: Reaching the Right People
    1. Goals, Strategy, and Tactics
    2. Advertising Is a Special Case, an Optional Engine for Growth
    3. More than Ever, but Less than Ever
    4. What Does Attention Cost? What Is It Worth?
    5. Brand Marketing Makes Magic; Direct Marketing Makes the Phone Ring
    6. A Simple Guide to Online Direct Marketing
    7. A Simple Guide to Brand Marketing
    8. Frequency
    9. Search Engine Optimization and the Salt Mines
  16. Chapter Sixteen: Price Is a Story
    1. Pricing Is a Marketing Tool, Not Simply a Way to Get Money
    2. Different Prices (Different People)
    3. “Cheap” Is Another Way to Say “Scared”
    4. And What About Free?
    5. Trust and Risk, Trust and Expense
    6. Be Generous with Change and Brave with Your Business
    7. Case Study: No Tipping at USHG
  17. Chapter Seventeen: Permission and Remarkability in a Virtuous Cycle
    1. Permission Is Anticipated, Personal, and Relevant
    2. Earn Your Own Permission and Own It
    3. Tuma Basa and RapCaviar
    4. Showing Up with Generosity
    5. Transform Your Project by Being Remarkable
    6. Offensive/Juvenile/Urgent/Selfish Is Not the Same Thing as Purple
    7. Suspending Fight Club Rules
    8. Designing for Evangelism
  18. Chapter Eighteen: Trust Is as Scarce as Attention
    1. What’s Fake?
    2. What’s Trusted, Who’s Trusted?
    3. The Trust of Action
    4. Famous to the Tribe
    5. Public Relations and Publicity
  19. Chapter Nineteen: The Funnel
    1. Trust Isn’t Static
    2. You Can Fix Your Funnel
    3. Funnel Math: Casey Neistat
    4. The Sustainable Direct Marketing Funnel
    5. An Aside on Funnel Math
    6. The Truth About Your Funnel
    7. Life on the Long Tail
    8. The April Fools’ Passover Birthday Easter Shirt
    9. There’s a Way Out
    10. Bridging the Chasm
    11. Where’s Your Bridge?
    12. Surviving the Chasm
    13. You Might Not Find the Bridge
    14. Case Study: Facebook and Crossing the Biggest Chasm
    15. Crossing the Local Chasm
    16. Clean Water in a Local Village
    17. An Aside About B2B Marketing
  20. Chapter Twenty: Organizing and Leading a Tribe
    1. It’s Not Your Tribe
    2. The Power of Now, Not Later
    3. Manipulation Is the Tribe Killer
    4. Shared Interests, Shared Goals, Shared Language
    5. It Will Fade if You Let It
    6. Take a Room in Town
  21. Chapter Twenty-One: Some Case Studies Using the Method
    1. How Do I Get an Agent?
    2. Tesla Broke the Other Cars First
    3. The NRA as a Role Model
    4. Getting the Boss to Say Yes
  22. Chapter Twenty-Two: Marketing Works, and Now It’s Your Turn
    1. The Tyranny of Perfect
    2. The Possibility of Better
    3. The Magic of Good Enough
    4. Help!
  23. Chapter Twenty-Three: Marketing to the Most Important Person

You read all the way through? Then you’ll love the book.

Have a great week ahead,