Seth Godin’s Message To Marketers at #INBOUND13

In my life outside of my job at 360, one of the things I am is a musician.   Not a rich, famous musician, but someone who has enjoyed playing music by myself, with others, or for others for many, many years now.

gene breathes fireAs a musician, I tend to experience concerts differently.   For example, I took my 7 and 9 year old sons to see Kiss a few weeks ago and while they were thinking “wow, that guy can breathe fire just like a dragon,” I was thinking stuff like “hey, cool – it sounds like they’re not using pre-recorded background vocals” and “the replacement Peter and Ace are much better players than the actual Peter and Ace.”  You know; musician stuff.

So, as a marketer it is interesting to attend a marketing conference which is produced by a marketing software company and marketed to marketers by marketers.  (Phew!)

One becomes curiously vigilant of what’s the content and what’s the marketing.  (Plus you end up typing the word “marketer” a lot when you blog about it!)  Seth Godin’s keynote this morning transported me out of that role completely and that was a true delight.

Seth GodinSeth’s Message

I’m going to paraphrase a bit, of course.   Seth’s talk was focused, engaging, funny and took us on a journey to understand what matters most right now for business folk.   (Seth, if you’re reading this I hope I got it right.)

The message is that there are no longer any hacks to success – no ads or copywriting, no “smooth taste” no “8 out of 10 doctors” and no more talking mascots. Production has also peaked – since the industrial revolution, we have constantly refined and scaled processes until there is now no point in scaling them any further – we are able to supply the demand for nearly every product in the world and with surplus.

The next frontier is what Seth calls “doing art.”

Doing art doesn’t mean painting or sculpting in this context, of course; what it means is to be constantly innovating and to come to understand that innovation as art.   As a software company, we feel strongly that it is our work to constantly innovate and what Seth was saying is that when you innovate, your work is never over.   You  must constantly be on a path to making the planet more awesome and your product or service is your canvas for doing this.

smoking doctorWhat Does It Mean To Me/You/Us?

I just want to dive a bit deeper into the first point – I’ll call it The Failure Of Noise.   We have gotten to a point where people, consciously or not, are really unlikely to see a big difference between your product and your competitor’s product and they certainly aren’t engaged by most of your marketing and advertising.  The way we tend to view competing products is overall, actually, rather binary: does it solve the problem I need it to solve at the time that I want that problem solved?  Yes or no?  Great.

As a marketer, that’s kind of disappointing, right?   Well, it’s just as disappointing for people to experience products this way.   They would much prefer to buy your art – you know, your energy and your story – rather than simply your widget, and that is where the great opportunity lies right now.   If you’re reading this, chances are you are either my mom or you are someone who is interested in how you can reach people with your work.   So here’s Seth’s message today, from my view on the second floor balcony in the auditorium at the Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in downtown Boston.

innovate and create constantlyStop Worrying

Keep innovating.  Keep creating and stop worrying about trying to be everything to everyone.   If you are a marketer of left-handed bamboo fly-fishing rods made by Belgian monks; great news – the Internet and other technologies in the world have given you the tools to reach people who are just as excited about your product as you are.   Even better – they will be thrilled to know about you.

Seth’s message was an electrifying call to arms – keep innovating, keep creating and make the world a better place with your work.

I will touch on this a bit more in a coming post, especially what it means for professionals in channel marketing.  In the meantime, I recommend reading or listening to Seth’s book Linchpin.


Jason King 360 IncentivesJason is the Content and Community guy at Connect with Jason on Twitter @JayKing71LinkedIn or Google+  360 is changing the world of incentives.  To find out how, book a call with us now!