Happy Holidays! Bringing you a special bonus today in the form of one of our most listened-to episodes: This is Marketing featuring Seth Godin

No matter what your product or service, Seth Godin has tremendous insight on reframing your sales and marketing approach to grow your business. As an Entrepreneur, best-selling author, and speaker, Seth focuses on everything from effective marketing and leadership, to the spread of ideas and changing everything.

You’re gonna learn a ton on this episode with Seth Godin.

Listen to this episode and discover:

Transcript
Ian Altman:

Welcome to the Same Side Selling Podcast. I'm your host, Ian Altman. This is a New Year's edition with a past episode that was really popular, and hopefully will help you into the new year. You'll of course hear new episodes starting next week. So Happy New Year. Hopefully you enjoy some great time with friends and family. And we will see you soon. Here is that episode:

Ian Altman:

Seth Godin, welcome to the show.

Seth Godin:

Well, thank you for me. It's always a pleasure, good to talk to you again.

Ian Altman:

You know, you always get my mind spinning in a good way. Can you start by sharing something surprising about you that our audience may not know?

Seth Godin:

I'll share two: number one, fresh sweet potato noodles, almost impossible to obtain worth the trip, I am known for my fresh sweet potato noodles with sesame oil and sesame seeds on top. Less trivial than that, it is true that even though I try to be a professional, there are entire days when there is nothing in my head, but static. And I have to work extra hard to juice myself up. It's not just that writing happens, you have to sometimes show up and make it happen.

Ian Altman:

You know what, I appreciate you sharing that, because as an outsider, I often read what you put out there and I think to myself, Man, how does Seth always come up with this stuff? And I struggle with these things? And there's times where I feel like there's nothing so now you've made me feel like it's not just me.

Seth Godin:

No, the struggle is real.

Ian Altman:

Yeah. So I just, I appreciate you sharing that. The This is Marketing, I think is really a it clarifies so many concepts that you've shared over the years. So for starters, what inspired you to write this book?

Seth Godin:el up. Now that seminar's had:Ian Altman:

You know, and there's so much clarity in it. There's so many aha moments, things that in many cases I would take for granted, but you kind of unpack the logic behind it. I especially love the reference to your dogs Baxter and Truman. So that's a magical moment for me in the book. But you mentioned you mentioned that there are common mistakes that you would see people making over and over again. So what are some of the mistakes that we've kind of, and I believe they're mistakes that we've taught people that someone has taught people: do this, and it works. And you and I would argue, no, it doesn't, it has the opposite effect. But what are the biggest mistakes that you see people making in the world of marketing and business growth?

Seth Godin:

Okay, so there's one huge mistake that we could talk about the whole time, if you want. And I'm going to tell you the origin of the mistake, and then I'll tell you what the mistake is. The origin of the mistake is that capitalism always wants more, that it is insufficient to do what you did yesterday, you need to increase profit, you need to increase market share, you need to get more customers paying you more money. And so this ratchet began about 100 years ago, which is that you could interrupt people with marketing advertising. Some of those people would give you money that would make you enough money that you could do it again. And so a cycle began, and it was perfected by the madman, and David Ogilvy, and it was a cycle of selfish interruption. What it led to, and the mistake that people make is, we have given everyone on Earth a microphone, everyone on Earth access to the social network that we call the Internet. And people believe that attention is success. People believe that friends are friends, that followers have value that what we ought to do is preen ourselves, do social media grooming, spend our days watching what people say about us behind our back and spin, spin spin. So, in short, we think we should be a Kardashian. And the thing about the Kardashians is they are really successful at being Kardashians, and by one measure, they have sold more than a billion dollars worth of products. And if you can go successfully be a Kardashian and it will make you happy, I'm not gonna tell you not to do it. But for the rest of us, this is a trap, and it is not worth chasing.

Ian Altman:

And so that whole notion of more is better isn't necessarily the case. And it's something that, like, for example, I see this and I'm sure you do in the world of things like LinkedIn. It's it drives me nuts. And I think to myself, why does anyone think that this level of intrusive marketing is a good idea? Who taught them that their approach should be to pitch somebody, the moment they became a connection with them online? Is that just this whole notion of interruption worked at a certain point? So people think it still works? And it's still a good idea?

Seth Godin:

Yeah, this is, you know, it's what we found in surveys is that everyone hates the US Congress, but no one hates their own congressman. And the same thing is true here. Everyone hates being interrupted. Everyone hates being spammed, but they don't think they're spam, and their interruption counts. And, and so here's the shift that I propose in the book. The first half is, if you are doing something of value, people will miss you if you don't show up and offer it to them. Right? If you are, I don't know, a Springsteen fan, you got extra tickets to his Broadway show, and you don't offer them to your friend. She'll be annoyed at you. That isn't the same as spamming a stranger and saying, How do I get more from you for this thing I have. And the second half of it is, if we stopped thinking of our prospects as prospects or customers, and started thinking of them as students, what we could say is, who do I have enrollment from? So if you're a calculus teacher, you probably have six kids who sit in the front row who are eager to learn what you have to say, there are 20 kids who are doing it because they have to. And then there are 6 billion people who you do not have the right to walk up to on the street, and start teaching integrals and derivatives to. So the goal is to figure out who those six people are, who are enrolled in your journey, and take them to where they want to go generously instruct, them shine a light, open doors for them. So when LinkedIn is used properly, that is possible. But most people don't have the patience or the humility to do that.

Ian Altman:

Yeah, it's an amazing thing. Because it used to be I would just ignore them. Then I started trying to teach people were I would say, Well, look, you know, instead of reaching out with a pitch, perhaps first reach out, and hey, Ian, I noticed you did this and that, can I learn more about it and engage in a conversation become part of the community. And then I realized that people don't really want to be taught. So I had to figure out who actually did want to be taught. And oftentimes now when I get a LinkedIn request, I respond by saying, gee, what inspired the connection. And the people who don't respond to that within a few days, those the connections I ignore. Because it told me that it was just an automated process. They were too lazy to take the additional steps. And it gave me an indication of someone who was likely to spam me tomorrow.

Seth Godin:

Oh, yeah. I mean, here's a good way for me to waste my day. I'll get an email from someone saying, so so so and so would be a great guest on your podcast. Let me know if I can book that.

Ian Altman:

You don't have guests!

Seth Godin:

And I'll write back and I'll say, which guest on Akimbo made you think that I would be worth reaching out to? That's stupid. That's stupid way for me to spend my time. And so I have to discipline myself to say, You know what, I'm not here for you. You're not here for me. There are other people who are here for me. I'll do my work for them instead. And that doesn't keep me from doing it now and then but it has never once led to a satisfactory outcome.

Ian Altman:

Yep. And I think that that you talk about in the book, this idea of humility and curiosity. And there's a business in the in the DC area, run by a guy named Barry Glassman, it's called Glassman Wealth and they've been consistently ranked in the in the best places to work. You know, the the wealth advisor, people trust with their money, kind of organization. And when you talk to Barry about how they hire, he said, the first thing we look for is people who are just amazingly curious, and they want to learn more and understand more and share more. And that's one of their keys to hiring great people is that level of curiosity. I think that from a marketer standpoint, one of the things you point out in This is Marketing is this whole idea of how important humility and curiosity curiosity are. And I love the, I love the fact that you don't reach out to someone, you talk about this in the book, hey, you definitely need this, and this would be great for you. But instead, it's, here's something that's been great for somebody else, and might be good for you, too.

Seth Godin:

And I think that there's a an important, important thing to understand here, which is, it is possible to weaponize these and turn these ideas into tactics. And as soon as you do that, you will fail. So like you, I get hustled by email all the time. So the latest one that's going around, is someone sends a note with an innocuous question in it. Like, I'm thinking to buy one of these three books, which one do you recommend? And then you answer them because you're good hearted. And then they follow up with another question. And you answer that, and what they're doing is playing you so that by the time the fifth back and forth goes on, they say okay, now I've paid my dues, here's what I'm here to sell you. And human beings, from an early age know how to look out for that stuff. That's not what we're talking about here. What we're talking about here is, if you seek the smallest viable audience, the smallest possible group of people who would be overwhelmingly delighted by what you do, you will make a different product. You will say, No, no, I can't sell an annuity to this group. Because everyone sells annuities, what would be the point I have to make something special or make nothing at all. And then, and this is the magic, and this is what is happening today that is so overlooked by the vast majority of people who are impatient, is, if you successfully delight and amaze those people, they will tell their friends. And that is the secret to every modern, successful brand. Every single one, it started go all the way back to the Grateful Dead or Springsteen event and go all the way forward to Airbnb, that what you see is, if you can delight the edge cases, the weird people, the people who are special in such a way that the only way for them to reset the levels is to tell someone else, they will tell someone else, and then the word will spread.

Ian Altman:

Yeah, it's it's interesting. I love that idea of finding the right audience. I gave a keynote recently to a group of people in the PR and communications field. And so one of them said, Yeah, well, we have clients who they want to be on the Today Show, they want to be in the Wall Street Journal. And so that's not really realistic. So how do we deal with that? And I said, well, the better question to ask them is, is that your ideal market? If you only serve, let's say, Charlotte, North Carolina? Are you better off being in the Wall Street Journal, where you now field ton of requests from people outside of Charlotte, that you can't serve? Or are you better off getting high visibility in the Charlotte market locally, around people for whom you solve a specific problem in Charlotte? And they said, Wow, I never really thought of it that way. It's it's not about it's not about how do I get the most people? I'm sure I've learned this from you. But instead, how do I find the right people who care about what it is that I can solve?

Seth Godin:

Right, and now you're touching on something that's super important. A lot of people who are listening to this are in the services business. They want one kind of agency or another. Here's the deal. You doing shameful work, because your clients demand it is no excuse. Get better clients, educate your clients, teach your clients to do the work properly, as opposed to blaming them for doing the work wrong. So here's what we know. We know that being in the Wall Street Journal or you know, I was on the Journal bestseller list last week, the number of people and I have a pretty big circle of people who know me, who sent me a note saying congratulations on being the number one business bestseller was one. My editor. One. So, what does that mean? It means that that is dwarfed by a factor of 100. By what happens if someone who engages with your clients firm decides to tell the others that horizontal spread of ideas dwarfs the declining mass media you can be on the front page of the Times and it won't change your life. Now what does that mean you need to do? It means you need to make a product or a service that wants to be spread. It means that the agency you spoke to that all of those agencies need to say to their best clients, don't come to us with your average stuff for average people after it's done, we can't help you anymore. Come to us, when your engineers and your product development people are having their very first meeting, let us sit at the very first meeting, and help you see how you could change the product itself, to make it more likely that people will talk about it.

Ian Altman:

I love that. It's it reminds me of you talked about early on the book, this idea of what promise are you making? And I liken that to the idea of focusing on results for your client. And I think that very often, businesses focus on what they're selling, as the product or service, rather than what you're really selling is the outcome or the result. And you share the example of gee, people used to say, oh, people aren't looking to buy a quarter inch drill, they're looking to buy a quarter inch hole. And the reality is, they're looking to hang this shelf, or hang something that uses that hole as the anchor. And so it's that outcome or result. And what I often find I'm curious, your thoughts on this is that if we focus with our clients on the results and outcomes, then they do become those students who are open to the ideas that, hey, look, here's the way we can help you achieve a better result or outcome. And now it's about having a meeting of the minds around the outcome or result rather than the widget that you're selling. Or you think you're selling.

Seth Godin:

Bingo, but let's go one step further. No one wants a shelf. They want the way it makes them feel when their spouse thanks them for cleaning up the books. That's all what gets, you know, once we get past, food, shelter, health, all that's left is a story. We tell ourselves about sufficiency, and about relationships. That's all there is. So what story that goes deep into our Maslow Hierarchy about being seen being safe being appreciated, that's what you sell. So how do we get you that? Don't come to me and say you need a quarter inch drill bit come to me and say, you need to help your customers feel confident and secure enough that they'll tell the others. That's a totally different thing.

Ian Altman:

Yep. And it's that notion of of having the discussion, I believe, with the with the client or prospect that says, what are you trying to achieve? And how are we going to measure that success? What's most important to you? For some of our clients that tell us it's a and b, other ones tell us it C and D, which are the things that are most important for you, because it might change the recommendation that we give you.

Seth Godin:

Well, most of your clients, if they're not the owner, if they were telling you the truth, would say my goal is to make my boss happy. That's it, period, then they have made up a whole bunch of explanations as to what will make their boss happy. They might they're probably wrong about what those things are. That is where the real insight can come. Right, that they say what will make my boss happy? Is A, if I come in under budget, and B, I increased market share. Really? Well, what if we could do those two things at the expense of I don't know, causing a scandal? Would that make your boss happy? Right? Was your boss signing up to do the Colin Kapernick deal at Nike? Because the fact is, that came in under budget, and it increase their market share. So for the people who run Nike was a brilliant strategy. But for your boss, maybe not. So let's get really clear about what will actually make your boss happy.

Ian Altman:

Yeah, and it's asking those, it's asking those challenging questions that help people understand that the idea for example of like the example you were giving of where you want to get there earlier in the process, sometimes you see people in a in a sales role, who say to the client, well, we want to talk to these people early on, and it often is conveyed is here's what I want as the seller. And I believe that if people can take a little bit more humility and say, Look, my concern is if we don't fully understand the genesis of this, that we might miss the target at the end. How can we get involved early in the process to make sure that we're in complete sync with you so that we blow out and far exceed anyone's expectations? Now, someone says, well, that sounds like a good reason for us to meet earlier. As opposed to the traditional seller marketer says, no, no, because my boss says I have to get there earlier in the process. My boss says that I have to be I have to reach the quote decision maker earlier.

Seth Godin:ve to go. So if I think about:Ian Altman:

The other thing, the other thing that I love that you talk about that I'd love to have you expand on a little bit is the notion of knowing who is not a fit, and not being afraid to share that.

Seth Godin:

Well, again, if we're going to be generous, if we're going to be trusted, we have to be able to say to people, oh, you would be much better off calling my biggest competitor. Here's their phone number. Tell them I sent you. Right, that you mentioned, Glassman the wealth management, guys. If they're really good at their job, they are sending people to Vanguard and Fidelity every day. Every day. Yep. And if they don't, then it's obvious that they're selfish liars. Because there are plenty of clients who would be better off going there. And when you can say that to people, then you don't have to apologize for your fees anymore. Right? Someone says, Oh, you say, Oh, if fees are your dominant narrative, here, call these guys at Fidelity, their fees are tiny. However, you won't get this, this and this, whichever is more important to you, you'll get what you pay for. And the ability to do that helps us get back to our work. You know, one thing I like to point out is that books don't sell very well at gas stations. That books sell at bookstores, right next to all the other books touching the other books. Not only that, authors blurb each other's books. Could you imagine Tim Cook, writing an endorsement for Pixel phone, that would never happen in a million years. But authors understand number one, no one's gonna buy a book by mistake, they're gonna buy a book, because they're looking for a book, which is why they need to be in a bookstore. And number two, no one who comes in to buy a Harry Potter book is accidentally going to buy a Seth Godin book, they're not the same thing for the same people. So JK Rowling is not my competition. And neither is Ian Altman, we're separate, we do different things for different people. And if you can have the confidence to embrace that, then you don't have to sit there worrying about people stealing your ideas, you don't have to worry about your potential customer discovering you have a competitor, guess what they know more than you do about your competitors. Pretending you don't have any competitors is foolish.

Ian Altman:

It's funny, I actually had a call from somebody yesterday, who reached out and said, Hey, we want you to come speak at this event for our company. So I generally take those calls directly. Because I just think it's an important thing to do. And through my discussion with them, but halfway through, I said, it sounds like here's what you really need this. Yeah, that's exactly it. I said, Yeah, I'm not the right person for that. But I can recommend a couple people who are. And there was dead silence on the phone. They said, well, so you don't want to speak for us. And I said, it's not about not wanting to speak for you. We just agreed on what you're trying to accomplish. And if you're truly trying to accomplish that, then there's other people who can do it better. And so the the stereotypical marketer or seller would say, Oh, you missed an opportunity. Now, of course, what did they say next? They said, Well, so what type of event could we use you for?

Seth Godin:

Of course, because now you're trusted.

Ian Altman:

And it's something that I think is so hard for people to learn, which is, you know, oftentimes there's a, there's a concept that I teach called a Client Vision Pyramid, which says, when someone's looking for your product or service, you need to define the differentiation in the market, because they may not understand it yet. So you say to them, well, when people are looking for, you know, a dog catcher, they're usually looking for a dog catcher at one of three levels, at the most basic levels, a dog catcher that does this, that's the effective level, at the enhanced level to do these things a little bit better and being engaged level, here's the way they interact with you and create this experience for you in this feeling for you, which level are you looking for? So now we've defined what the spectrum of possibilities could be. And we're letting the client self select which one's important to them. And if they pick the one that we don't do, like, the basic effective level, then we can say to them, oh, you know, what, our clients come to us for that engage level, would it be okay, if I recommended someone for you at the effective level, which probably just saved you a ton of time and helped you avoid getting sucked into the vortex of evil?

Seth Godin:

I love that. I'm curious as to what you mean, when you say, dog catcher who hires a dog catcher?

Ian Altman:

Well, I would just I was using a ridiculous example, thanks for calling me out on it.

Seth Godin:

I was I thought maybe I just missed No, no, no, these days, they keep coming up with new things. So in the book, I talked about positioning, and I talked about positioning as a service. And that's an example of what you just described. And this is one of the breakthroughs inside the marketing seminar that really surprised me, because we spent two and a half lessons on it, and people totally got it. It was a real game changer for people to realize. We don't position ourselves like trout and reset to box out the competition. We position ourselves to help people in search of a solution, find what they were looking for all along. And if there's a quadrant in the xy axis, it's filled with people. Don't go there. Don't go there. We don't need you. We don't need another brand of sort of expensive sort of good chocolate. There's a lot of sort of expensive sort of good chocolate. We're fine. Thanks very much. On the other hand, for the kind of person that wants chocolate grown by indigenous peoples, that has a supply chain that's visible and charitable, there's nobody in that category. So yeah, go there. That's what chocolate cacao Colombia does. And they belong there. That's their spot. And find your spot, and the audience is looking for that spot will find you.

Ian Altman:

Absolutely I remember we we took the family to Peru earlier this year, went to Cusco had no idea that some of the best chocolate on the planet. And of course, my wife and I are immediately thinking, Well, how do we get the stuff in the US? Because it's amazing, and it's not mass produced. And it's just this incredible chocolate that's almost difficult to describe.

Seth Godin:

Well it's Porcelana it's a it's a creole or a Trinitario. And the Porcelana tree was extinct. And someone found four of them that had somehow survived. And it's now slowly coming back that it's called Porcelana because the outside of the cacao pod is white. And I'm jealous that you had some but I'll tell you say one other thing about Cusco. That's completely irrelevant to our conversation. I hope did you get to did you walk up to Machu Picchu while you were there? Did you take the train or did you walk?

Ian Altman:

We took the we took we took the train, then we took the bus and then we walked around, obviously, up around.

Seth Godin:

So for anyone who's listening, if you got a teenager walk from Cusco to Machu Picchu, it takes five days. Magnificent. Well, unbelievable. But the other thing about Cusco, Cusco is epicenter of the Ayahuasca phenomenon as seen by Westerners. And if you want firsthand to see the danger of messing with psychoactive drugs that you don't understand, just walk around Cusco for a day. And it will make it really easy for you to decide you don't want to take Ayahuasca.

Ian Altman:

Well, you know what, we didn't we didn't know that. And, and the only thing I'm kicking myself about is if I wasn't sure about the origin of the chocolate, and if I needed to know something about it, I should have called you first because clearly, it's not just the fresh sweet potato recipe that you're known for. It's just your conduit of knowledge around things that I wouldn't have thought even asked you about.

Seth Godin:

Well, it sounds like I specialize in the foods of Peru which is probably true.

Ian Altman:

Yeah, it's um, we had a we had a blast there and are looking forward to going back, I was speaking at event there, and we said, oh, we'll do Machu Picchu and then said, Alright, we're gonna come back again for a longer period. And the main reason we did not do the hike and do the whole Inca Trail was I reached out to my friend, Allison Levine. And if you know, Allison's a fellow keynote speaker, and has got the what is the adventure Grand Slam, she's summited the tallest, tallest peak on every continent and has skiied to the North and South pole. Well, I said, Hey, we're planning to Machu Picchu. What do you think? And she said, How long you gonna be there? And I said, well, the total trip is about nine days. She said, Yeah, you don't have enough time to properly prepare, you're going to end up with all sorts of altitude sickness and headaches, and this and that. So my advice is just take the bus there. And I said, Well, don't you think we could do it? She said, Okay, if I was going, I wouldn't take the hike. And that was my indicator that maybe I shouldn't, if she wouldn't, but now you've just proved me that you did it. And so now I'm thinking maybe we should have.

Seth Godin:

Well, the difference is that I eat more chocolate than you.

Ian Altman:

Ah, that would, that would be it. I don't know if that's possible. But I don't know if it's possible to eat more chocolate than I did. Because once we discovered the chocolate there it became every time we stopped anywhere, it was okay, get several bottles of water, and you know, some chocolate.

Seth Godin:nd this corner. And you're at:Ian Altman:

Exactly, what's the hat and the scarves and we went to the we went to the factory that that teaches you all about alpaca and Baby Alpaca. And so this this, this gets back to the point of educating as part of the as a service. And the and the woman says well, so this here are three different variations. This is regular alpaca, and this is baby alpaca. And then feel this is it feels similar to the baby alpaca, we said yeah, they said that this is what in the stores, they mark it as baby alpaca. And we like to call it maybe alpaca says this is this is probably acrylic that's been brushed with it with a with a brush, and it creates this texture, but here's how you can tell if it's real or not. And so, just the other day, Deborah and I were in town, and we were going to a hockey game. And there were these little shops. So we're walking past the shops, and one of them said all this stuff for alpaca. And Deborah feel some of it looks and says, Oh, look at that, maybe alpaca.

Seth Godin:s of:Ian Altman:

So aside from everybody, making sure that they get This is Marketing which I can wholeheartedly endorse and love it. And if I didn't, I would just say hey, nice book, but it's just I think it's something that everybody should read. If someone in the audience is one of the seven people who already doesn't know how to find you, what's the best way for them to learn more about what you're doing and how you're impacting the world?

Seth Godin:

Well, that's kind of you. I don't think everyone should read this book. I think most people should not read this book. I think that it will make some people uncomfortable. I think some people don't care. I think some people, most of the people who shouldn't read it will be exposed to these ideas and still not do anything about it, because they're still selfish. So I'm just fine if those people don't buy the book. But for people who are trying to change the culture in ways they're proud of the book was supposed to be called, Make Things Better by Making Better Things. And if that resonates, then I hope this will help. You can find my blog at Seths.blog. You can find the marketing seminar at themarketingseminar.com. We're starting again in just a couple of weeks. And we would love to have serious folks join in.

Ian Altman:

You know, and I agree that not everybody should read the book. I just have high expectations of my audience. So you got my audience, this tribe that I'm fortunate enough to be a part of. I believe that what you teach is something that they would really benefit from. So Seth, thank you for your generosity, and amazing insights. It's always a pleasure to connect with you.

Seth Godin:

You're the best. Thank you, Ian.