This Is Marketing: Chapter Two

The Marketer Learns to See

Continuing on the journey of marketing Seth Godin shares further about the knowledge and experience he has gained as a marketer through years of experimental trial and error (mostly error) with different projects and organizations.

He highlights the difference between the marketing that has suffused our entire lives until now — one that is based on “using money to buy means to sell average stuff to average people” — and the kind of marketing we ought to do — based on an understanding of human condition and culture.

If you help them [people] become better versions of themselves, the ones they seek to be, you’re a marketer.

Marketing in five steps

Godin explains marketing as consisting of five steps, which begins with inventing something worth making, with a story worth telling and a contribution worth talking about. Here, I have a question. Who determines the worth? Is it us, the creator? Or is it the people, the market, the consumer? While I understand that it makes more sense to find a need and develop a product for it, wouldn’t it also be true that there definitely exists a certain group of people who’d be interested in a certain product?

The second step, as explained by Godin, is to design and build our product in a certain way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about. Which is followed by telling a story which matches the built-in narrative and the dreams of that small group of people — “the smallest viable market”. While I can theoretically understand the concept of the smallest viable market, it once again raises questions about what one would understand from the word “viability”.

The next step is to spread the word, which is not only the most exciting part but also the essential job of the marketer. Interestingly, the last step as mentioned by Godin, is indeed often overlooked in the marketing process. Because, developing a brand or product identity, does not happen overnight and requires them to constantly show up over years in similar fashion, sticking to a narrative that resonates with the consumers.

Therefore, marketing can be understood as a process of change making by constantly engaging with people in order to spread ideas and building a tribe.

This is Marketing: An Executive Summary

  • At the heart of marketing lies creative ideas; ideas that spread, win.
  • Marketing is about making change happen, by delivering relevant messages to the smallest viable market, that they actually wish to get.
  • Consumers don’t exist to solve the company’s problem. They are not interesting in what we have to say, much less in what we have to sell. Rather, the goal of an effective marketing strategy is to solve people’s problem.
  • People’s consumption is based off their understanding of culture and social status. Therefore, consistently presenting ideas that resonate with a particular group of people determines their consumption to a great extent.
  • Human attention is a precious resource that is heavily sought after. Effective marketing ideally makes it easy for the consumers, by presenting our ideas in a way that is both memorable for the consumer as well as resonates with them.

Things marketers know

Commitment and creativity are the two most powerful tools to bring about change. “Who is it for?” and “What is it for?” are two important questions that demand clarity in understanding in order to market effectively, because, we can neither bring about change for everyone nor can we solve all problems with one solution. Therefore the audience and intent of any product or service needs to be clearly set out. Lastly, as marketers we use stereotypes to develop our understanding of people’s needs and perceived status which would help us serve them better.