In May of 2008, Seth Godin wrote a blog post called “What Every Good Marketer Should Know”. It’s a list of 37 bullet points that I refer to regularly and often share with clients and prospects. It’s not just valuable for marketers. It’s insightful perspective for anyone who has to make a marketing-related decision for their small business. So often, small business owners and their employees focus on the wrong things. They want a website – want to pay as little as possible – and want to not think critically about how they’ll use the website once it’s finished. They want to buy leads. They want a quick answer to where they should spend their advertising dollars.
And the truth is…it’s not that simple. Good marketing isn’t an expense. It’s an investment. And bad marketing is an expense that will never return the desired results. Here are a couple of my favorite Godin-isms from What Every Good Marketer Should Know in no particular order. My thoughts on each are below with an “SP:”
1. “People are selfish, lazy, uninformed and impatient. Start with that and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
SP: No one cares that you think your widget is great. No one cares that you think that a picture of your office communicates that you’re a legitimate operation. They care about themselves – and their problems. Use your website, blog and marketing materials to help your customers solve THEIR problems. More will convert. More will appreciate – and be loyal to you. And more will tell their friends.
2. “Good marketers tell a story.”
SP: We’re hard-wired to tie ideas to stories and analogies. Tell a story that drives home the idea you’re trying to explain and you’ll get better results.
3. “Effective stories match the world view of the people you are telling the stories to.”
SP: Be a GOOD storyteller. Know your audience.
4. “You can’t fool all the people, not even most of the time. And people, once unfooled, talk about the experience.”
SP: If your approach has been to get over on any portion of your customers, you’re screwed. Accept it. Change your ways. Apologize if necessary. The internet has turned every person with a smart phone into a mini media outlet. This isn’t going away – it’s getting worse. Behave poorly with your customers and they will talk about it online. And potentially ruin you.
5. “Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.”
SP: This is the proactive way to avoid the pitfalls associated with number 4. Encourage you customers to have the right sort of conversations about your business online. Go out and participate in the conversations that are already going on. And do it yesterday.
6. “Choose your customers. Fire the ones that hurt your ability to deliver the right story to the others.”
SP: Stop trying to be all things to all people. I can’t tell you how many times small business owners tell me that their target audience is everyone. Stop it. Everyone is not your audience. Start with your best existing customers and explain why you love them. Why they buy. What sort of relationship you have with them. Then look for ways to amplify. Do the same things with your worst customers. If you can’t make them into clones of your best customers…fire them. And don’t allow any more bad customers on board.
7. “Marketing is not an emergency. It’s a planned, thoughtful exercise that started a long time ago and doesn’t end until you’re done.”
SP: The most important lesson for anyone working in a small business’ marketing department. Because everyone’s emergency becomes your problem. And for owners – these reactionary emergencies make your company look dumb. And the odds are good that the emergency messaging is questionable. And that it won’t have the desired result – if there are any results at all.
8. “You can game the social media in the short run, but not for long.”
SP: Think of social media as a long, intimate conversation with your audience. And go easy on trying to get something without giving.