Seth Godin, the legendary marketer, podcaster, best selling author and man extraordinaire is my hero. To be honest, when I first heard about Seth, I wanted to dislike him. I refused to read his books. I refused to subscribe to his e-mail list. I just did not want to like him. But then I started to read one of his books. Then I went to the library to borrow all of his books. And just like that, I was converted. His books were easily digestible and consumable and I took away many lessons that I still practice (or try to practice) today. Today, I wanted to just share three of his many, many great ideas that I have used in my life.
Poke the box
Poke the box also happens to be in my short Steem bio — where does it come from? It comes from Seth Godin’s book called “Poke the Box” and the associated story is some of us, as kids, may have received a toy box where you can do certain things: press a button and a light comes on, turn the crank and you hear a sound, etc. The box is very similar to a computer program — provide an input and get an output, provide different inputs, and get different outputs. The main idea here was that if you did not provide an input, if you did not provide that motive force at the start, you would never get anything. If you did not poke the box, nothing would happen. Seth’s manifesto is to keep poking the box. Start things because this skill is rare in this world — we have lots of people who can execute but not enough people that can start things and drive towards it. A similar idea here is to get your work out there so that you can get feedback. I still procrastinate many times when I have to submit a draft deliverable or send out meeting minutes or send out anything to others — I feel like it’s not good enough and so I delay but in the end, I send it out and realize that it is only useful if there is someone else to provide input and feedback on it. It’s a continual battle but you have to keep sending out your work.
Everybody has probably heard of brainstorming — this is where you just come up with different ideas, usually to solve a problem of some sort. There’s a ton of great ways to generate ideas which I may cover in a different post but Seth talked about a different way to brainstorm ideas called ‘edgestorming’ and the concept is this: think about the different properties that everything may have and then find a way to go all the way to the extremes. For example, let’s take a toothbrush as an example and say size is the property — you can find extremely small portable toothbrushes for sale and you may be able to find extremely big toothbrushes that may be for kids to hold. What about water bottles and transparency — you can find transparent water bottles (say made of plastic or glass) and then there’s opaque water bottles that have wild colours on them (say swell bottles). The trick here is to think of the idea and a property and then combine the two by going to the extremes of that property. Honestly, one of the coolest concepts I have learned around generating ideas.
In Seth’s book, the Purple Cow, he argues that the best marketing is to be a purple cow — be so remarkable that people cannot help but talk about you. This is not to say that you have to be the best though that helps but think about it this way: you’re driving along the road with some friends and you see a cow out in the fields. You see another cow, and another and pretty soon you lose interest as you pass by more and more cows. All of a sudden though, you see a purple cow and you and your friends stop to take pictures and to let others know that you saw a purple cow. It’s different. It’s unique. It’s worth talking about.
Now let me ask you, is your company’s service or product so remarkable that you have customers talking about it? How can you create a purple cow yourself? Instead of spending money marketing your product or service to customers, why not take the money and invest it in your product or service? Make something worth mentioning and never have to worry about your marketing again.