Page 11 - Winter 2019
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 Winter 2018/19
                                                                    them, to the exclusion of everyone else, whom would you choose?” Godin asks. “Because if you can overwhelm this tiny group with delight, they’ll tell the others.”
Finding your “interested few” on the fringes, Godin believes, is far more important than identifying things such as what the next hot social media outlet is or how millennials act and what that means to your business. He also believes it’s the hardest part of communicating to your audience.
“It doesn’t matter what’s next,” he says. “What we need is already here. What we need is the way to contact people who want to hear from us. And now, with more than a billion people connected, we have the ability. Whether they are connected by 100 or 1,000 different technologies doesn’t matter. The hard part is having people who want to hear from us.”
If you have the guts to choose to talk primarily to the people in the margins who care most about what you have to say and what you are selling, the caring has to work both ways.
In fact, a willingness to care is what Godin believes will separate the great marketers of the future from the rest. Asked whether he thinks data geeks or those with storytelling skills will write the future of marketing, he pivots in a different direction.
“I think the most important skills are the soft, human skills of caring enough to do the emotional labor to dance with fear and serve the people you care about,” he says.
In his latest book, This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See, Godin explains how possessing practical empathy will allow marketers to “learn to see.” It’s a lesson that nearly anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time in a particular industry has been exposed to. The more time you spend in an industry or at the same business, the closer you get to it. Eventually, you are so close, so inside, it’s easy to lose touch with the customer.
“Practical empathy means realizing that others—the others you seek to work with and
sell to—don’t know what you know,” Godin says. “They don’t want what you want and they don’t believe what you believe. And that’s okay! If you’re
not okay with that, you can’t have empathy, which means you can’t see what’s really happening.”
Once you’ve found who it is that cares about your products and your message, then made the decision to target them at the expense of the major market, overwhelming this eager audience with “delight” requires that you “be remarkable.”
To do so requires people who can create
the remarkable. In the last decade, more and more companies have been turning to in-house creative talent to deliver it. A 2018 Forbes article cited a study, “State of In-House Agencies,” by the In-House Agency Forum (IHAF) and Forrester Research, which said 64 percent of corporate America had in-house agencies in 2018. That’s
18 percent more than a decade earlier.
“The model of the traditional ad agency is completely broken,” Godin says. “Fifteen percent commissions on a billion dollars of P&G TV
ads pays for a LOT of overhead. But first media buyers stole some of that, and now more and more campaigns need constant work and have small budgets.”
Godin says the result is that creative talent is rarely hanging out at a traditional ad agency and
that, today, there is simply too much indirectness between ad spend and creativity.
“My argument for 20 years is that the ad agency needs to move upstream and become the client’s product design, user interaction, and customer service strategists,” he says.
The death of the traditional model isn’t happening only at agencies. Godin fully expects brands that aren’t innovating or keeping up with their customer needs and wants will not survive. In the online marketing courses he teaches, Godin says that most everything we learned
in school and everything our board and bosses know about marketing is out-of-date. Asked whether this means there will soon be a major shift in marketing leadership toward younger people because the “old guard” isn’t as in tune with what’s modern, he says this is already
the case.
“Random House didn’t start Google. They could have. Macy’s didn’t start Shopify. They could have,” Godin says. “This is the creative destruction that changes our culture. But it won’t happen at traditional companies; they’ll just dry out and die, I figure.” n
   This Is Marketing
by Seth Godin
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 Image Credit: Brian Bloom

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