Cultural change and technological acceleration are transforming business and redefining the rules of marketing. According to Seth Godin, to connect with our clients we must go out from the limits and explore new ways.
“Usually what we do daily is find small and disconnected parts of interests and somehow, we connect them, then we amplify and multiply to help those we hope will change. And what we do, if we try to achieve something or to grow something, is to do work of importance to the people who matter. That’s what I want to talk about: jobs that matter to people that we care about.
Many of us go to work daily and feel that we are behind the eight ball, that things do not work as we would like; So we pedal faster as if the opportunity to make the difference was doing what we did yesterday, but faster and faster. But Let’s look at the case of a cycling race from Italy; the one who is last realizes that pedaling faster is not the answer and that maybe there is another way to win the race. If only we could see that there is another way to make a difference, that exponential growth could come from the other side.
And so, when someone asks us what we do or what we manufacture, the answer will not be an app or an insurance policy, but more so, that we make history, that we make a difference. And above all, that what we do is to achieve a change. That is the definition of marketing. And if we are going to live in these crazy times, what we have to understand first is what it means to commit to that.
Industrialism made us rich. Henry Ford was able to tell people: “Come and I’ll pay you 10 times more than what they pay you normally,” and that thought led to the birth of a factory where we do our work and we do it faster and faster, and the assembly line goes faster. It doesn’t matter what we do or where, this idea that we keep making things counts a lot in what we do every day, right? And that resulted in many side effects.
I return to an example, the case of a brand manager of a company who spent $100 million on sale spaces, interrupting us with TV ads and magazines. Why? So that we buy their pain reliever next time we get sick. Except I don’t have a problem with painkillers and neither do you. I already solved it 20 years ago with a yellow box, the cheap and generic one. I don’t pay attention to ads, to those interruptions. With that being said, no matter what your job is or whatever it is you do, I could say with enough security that you are too busy interrupting people who don’t believe to have the problem that you want to solve. And if that is the case, then pedaling faster or screaming louder doesn’t take you where you want to go.
They have a boss who keeps insulting them again and again. They have investors in a meeting who want more and more, who want more participation in the market, that they present them to more people, get them more than this or that because they have a factory. And that factory is efficient so much that “sell more” is the message. This led to doing average things for average people, you know why? Because if they want to reach everyone, they will have to interrupt everyone and it will be better to do something that everyone wants. And that’s what they ask for at the committee meeting, in the discussion group. This pushes us into an amorphous half that we could just call “mediocre”.
The revolution of the impossible
In 1972, the record industry was perfect. If you had a record that you liked a lot and you lent it, you would no longer have it anymore. You would have to buy another. Or if you listened to it a lot, it would wearout and you also had to buy another. Cars had radios, and the radio did nothing but sell this product, non-stop, the Rolling Stones, MTV – they got the point. However, in just a couple of years the industry went from perfect to impossible. All the records of the world were available on a smartphone for everyone whenever they wanted, for free. The record industry’s dead. There’s more music now than before, but the music industry is over. That’s a revolution. That happens when the exponential arrives. It destroys the perfect and allows the impossible. Do what you do, work in whatever it is you work in, it’s happening to everyone.
That which used to be perfect, that industrialist system supported by your company, that permitted you to get here, is being replaced by something impossible. In part, it seems like good news. Now everyone can be your clients. And in part, it’s bad news because now everyone can be your competition. We have to make ourselves realize that this geography is disappearing. We have to make ourselves realize that your customers know more than you do. And that means it’s totally different to sell a car to someone, it’s totally different to sell a luxury trip to someone because everything has changed.
Not only that, but we gave the remote control to our clients and are not afraid to use it. We have labeled ourselves, showing ourselves again and again in front of people who don’t want to know about us. They can buy more than 80 types of Android phones across the street. And they can use that Android phone to access the Internet and buy an infinite variety of insurance policies. So wherever we look, the number of options offered continues to increase. The old model of scarcity and industrialism no longer works like before. I know it’s bad news, it’s not my fault, all i’m saying is the direction has changed and we need to take a deep breath and realize that the old method doesn’t have much of a future.
How do we connect with clients?
Take the example of gourmet cat food Fancy Feast. It’s not for cats; if it were, it would come in rat flavor. Fancy Feast is for cat owners, not to eat but to buy, because the story that counts is the feeling they get; the capacity to exchange money for something that makes them happy is one of the things this company offers; OR if we think of dog food: it used to cost $1.50 per pound and now you find brands that cost $ 40.00 per pound. The price of dog food continues to increase and the amount of money that Americans spend on food increases but as far as I can see, dogs aren’t any more happy than they were before, because dog food is not for dogs, right? Food for dogs is for the story the owner tells themselves.
What Ted Levitt wrote in 1962 is something totally incomplete. He said, “People don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole. They have to know what they get.” But I want to go beyond that, because people don’t need a quarter inch hole, what they need is a place to put the screw, to be able to hold the shelf so that your partner sees that you both finally cleaned the messy room; That feeling of trust, security and respect is what they need. And that’s what we need when we buy almost anything, because we have the luck of not having to worry about knowing where the next plate of food is. Nor do we have to worry about rain coming through the roof. So we sell stories, we sell one difference, we sell the change. That is what we do.
When most want to cause an effect, think about how many people will be affected. But you can think of it in another form: on a smaller scale, more concentrated, with the least possible audience, not the largest. Yes you can choose the smallest audience possible, you can choose who they are, they can be seen, understood, served and changed. The product will become better. It will turn out far from average, into something not mediocre. It will separate from everyone; from being nothing to something, to import. But you can’t do that without asking two questions. Who is it for? (or more precisely who am I looking to serve?) and what is it for? (What change am I trying to achieve?). If you answer that it’s for everyone and that it does nothing, then you become an industrialist again. But there’s an alternative: Say it’s for someone. Well, once you find the group you are looking to address, the next thing is this: Realizing there are two ways to get married. There are actually more, but we’ll only talk about two. One is to enter online and propose to any and all people until someone gives in. This is a stupid way and is exactly what you do with your prospects. When you try to get your company to grow, you reach out to all those who read newspapers, to all those who use online media: “This is my notice, please buy my product.”
The second way to get married is to go on a date and, if it goes well, go to another with that person, then meet their parents, commit … it worked for me, maybe it will work for you. So then, why not go on a date with your prospects? Why don’t you deal with creating a structure that allows you to offer advanced messages that are personal and relevant to the people who want to receive them, instead of running around, interrupting people, sending them spam?
We have too much spam. We don’t need anymore. And the way to know if you’re sending too much spam is very simple. If you don’t send that massive email tomorrow, if you don’t interrupt those people on your list, How many would call to complain? Would they miss you if you didn’t show up? The alternative is to choose a small group of people who desperately need you, that want you; and you can achieve this by trying distinct people in distinct ways. For the first time in organizational history, at scale, can we do that. 80 or 90% of people are in the middle of the curve, they are normal, they are average. If they studied marketing in college, they were taught to create for themselves. Many people are in the middle, that’s the mass market. But the curve is melting. Little by little, day after day, if you give people options, people will choose. Those who are in the middle ignore them on purpose, they like to ignore them, that’s why they’re in the middle. But those who are on the edges are the ones who will choose to listen to you, they are the ones you don’t have to spam or interrupt because they’ll miss you if you don’t show up. Every single million-dollar brand started off targeting rare people, they started around the edges. And then because people cared, they got to the middle, right? What we can do is tell people that it’s not for everyone. If your company motto is you can choose your products and use any, you’re at a loss because people will choose by price. And that classification won’t help you.
The idea that we have to go outside of our limits is complicated because we were taught that we must fit in, that we should follow the leader because being part of the herd is safe: they taught us not to go towards the edges. But now I want to tell you that this fear you have when they tell you: “You’re not as good as you think,” is not true. And leading with that fear is the way forward.
Some media companies have advanced and have taken advantage of our need to know what people say behind our backs, they have taken advantage of our insecurities, our desire to have many followers. This is the theme: Social networks are a sign of success. They’re not a sign of success. The Mona Lisa has a large presence in social networks but does not have a Twitter account or Instagram, however she’s everywhere you look. So what happened? People talk about the Mona Lisa online because she has an interesting story. It’s not that there’s an interesting story about her that they talk about online. In other words, social media doesn’t take companies wherever they want to go, it’s a by-product of going where they want to go.
Metcalfe’s law says that the value of a network rises with the square root of people in it. Many of you have a funnel. How do you buy advertising? How do you make people look at you? What if they create a network? And if you offered the funnel to your best customers and told them: “Here’s a megaphone. Tell others?” Because that’s how ideas are shared, not by yelling about them but rather by what your friends, your fans, your customers, your people and your tribe tell others.
What we need from you are guts, guts to say, “No, no we will not do that. Let’s cancel this product line.” The guts of saying, “I will not interrupt all these people on the list just because we need to get to the quarterly numbers.” The guts of falling and scraping our knees knowing that we can get up and do it again.
We have to create something alive, something full of life. Not an industrial artifact but a cultural artifact. The Japanese have a cool term: “Kamiwaza,” which means “divine” or “mythical,” “as the gods would do.” But if you think about it, what it means in reality is “human,” not industrial but the human way of doing it, like someone who cares.”
If you want to find out more, join our next Masterclass with Seth Godin on the 27th and 28th of April. See more here.