This post is based on a podcast with Seth Godin. If you’d like to listen to more #FlipMyFunnel Podcast episodes, you can check them out here and listen to this episode below!
If there is one person synonymous with marketing excellence, it is Seth Godin. Godin has written 18 bestselling books including Permission Marketing and Purple Cow. I recently had the exciting opportunity to discuss his recent book This is Marketing.
“I will start with a simple fun fact for you, which is almost nobody knows who I am,” says Godin. “That is one of the theses of the book, it’s very easy for us to think we live in this mass market world, but we don’t. We live in a micro market world.”
For Godin, marketing is the art of hitting the smallest viable audience. Like developers who attempt to create the minimal viable product to ship, targeting the smallest viable audience forces a marketer to sharpen their messaging to attract just those customers.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- The origin of flipping the funnel.
- Positioning as a service.
- Marketing isn’t about marketing spend.
- This is Marketing: The Five-Step Marketing Framework.
- Sangram’s Summary.
- Seth’s Challenge.
The origin of flipping the funnel
When I named my podcast #FlipMyFunnel, little did I realize that I was echoing something Godin had written in 2006. (You can get Godin’s Flipping the Funnel ebook for free here.)
Godin got the idea for flipping the funnel from his startup Squidoo. At one time it was 40th biggest website in the United States. It had just seven employees.
The site allowed users to create communities around topics of interest. It had over 350,000 pages on the site. It was so successful that (according to Godin) Google had to change their algorithm just to put them out of business.
“The idea that we have to have a direct marketing funnel is not nearly as powerful as handing that funnel to our biggest fans and letting them turn it into a megaphone just by flipping it sideways,” says Godin.
Positioning as a service
In his latest book, This is Marketing, Godin says that marketing should move to a “positioning as a service” (PaaS) model.
“Positioning is this idea that we don’t have room in our brain for a lot of information and if you show up and say you’re just like everybody else, then you’re invisible,” says Godin. “If you can point to something that’s already in my brain and find a reason for me to put you near it or against it, then you have a chance of owning your niche.”
In PaaS you need to target specific niches so that you reach the people who are most interested in your product or service. You have to be meaningfully specific.
The hard part about this is that while some people think they are marketing, they are actually just hiding.
“The way you’re expressing your fear is by being generic, by being invisible, by being blameless. So you can’t get in trouble,” says Godin. “Marketing is making change happen, the price of that is you have to stand for something.”
Marketing isn’t about marketing spend
Marketing isn’t about budgets, it is about message.
“I’m appalled by marketers who think that just because they have money, they’re entitled to attention,” says Godin. “I am appalled by the marketers who want to race to the bottom by making things worse or cheaper or hiding behind x, y, or z. We can do better than that.”
Marketing is a conversation with your audience which means you can’t just be repeating the same message over and over again. You need to respond to where they are. You need to innovate.
This is Marketing: The Five-Step Framework
In his latest book, Godin outlines a five-step framework for marketing success.
- Step #1: Invent a thing worth making, with a story worth telling, and a contribution worth talking about.
- Step #2: Design and build it in a way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about it.
- Step #3: Tell a story that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of that tiny group of people, the smallest viable market.
- Step #4: The one everyone gets excited about: spread the word.
“People think that marketers only do the spread the word part. When things aren’t going well, they focus more energy and time on spreading the word,” says Godin. “Oldsmobile disappeared because they didn’t get the first two steps right. Because they didn’t understand how to make a car people wanted to buy.”
The typical car company spends more than $1,000 per car in advertising. Godin believes that money should be spent in making the cars exciting. Cars that start the marketing conversation when people see them.
“So, it sounds like I’m talking about the most successful luxury car in America. I am. Because you’ve never seen a Tesla TV commercial. I haven’t,” says Godin. “Tesla doesn’t spend $1,000 a car in advertising. They instead spent $1,000 a car designing a car people wanted to talk about. That’s marketing.”
- Step #5: The last step is often overlooked: show up—regularly, consistently, and generously, for years and years—to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make.
First of all, stand for something. If you’re a marketer, or you’re a leader in a company, the best thing you could do is stand for something. As Godin says in his book, “If you don’t stand for something, then you might might as well disappear into oblivion.”
Secondly, the role of marketing is to make change happen. There’s a lot of emotion to that because if you can move people to take action, do things, you actually have a ton of responsibility and we should take that seriously.
Then the biggest part is the five steps of marketing. Most people think a marketer’s job is to spread the word. You need to tell a good story, but also conversing with the audience, being the person who listens and understands. And finally showing up regularly. I feel like that really matters.
- Put your name on it.
- Don’t say you did it because your boss told you to.
- Don’t say you did it to maximize shareholder value.
- This work you’re doing, that email you sent, are you proud enough to put your name on it, or are you just a spammer?
- Are you just racing to the bottom?
Because each one of us has been trusted with a lot of leverage. We get to take people’s attention. We get to earn people’s money or trust.
If you’re not prepared to put your name on it, I hope you have enough guts to go do something else for a living.