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Seth Godin's Blog on marketing, tribes and respect



Seth Godin's riffs on marketing, respect, and the ways ideas spread.



Updated: 2017-05-26T04:20:00-04:00

 



Microcopy in the age of the glance

2017-05-26T04:20:00-04:00

People rarely read to the end. And they almost never spend as much time reading your words as you spend writing them. Which makes it ironic that the little phrases we use (in designing a simple form, or when we...

People rarely read to the end. And they almost never spend as much time reading your words as you spend writing them.

Which makes it ironic that the little phrases we use (in designing a simple form, or when we answer the phone) matter so much.

Being gentle, kind or human goes a long way.

Coming across as confident, clear and correct matters as well.

Microcopy is word choice. It's a glimpse of a smile or a slip of impatience.

When you start putting™ trademark symbols in random spots, using extra exclamation points or (this is the biggest one) adopting a false commanding tone and being a jerk in your writing, then you lose us.

We know that you feel like using words like ONLY, NEVER, PERMANENT and NOTICE, but we'd rather hear from someone we like instead.

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“What about endogeneity?”

2017-05-25T04:55:00-04:00

Ask this question often. Several times a day, at least. Endogeneity is a fancy term for confusing cause and effect. For not being clear about causation and correlation. It's one reason why smart people make so many mistakes. We think...        Ask this question often. Several times a day, at least. Endogeneity is a fancy term for confusing cause and effect. For not being clear about causation and correlation. It's one reason why smart people make so many mistakes. We think A leads to B, so more A gets more B. While A and B may have been related in the past, though, it's not at all clear that improving A is going to do anything about B. There is, for example, an extraordinarily high correlation between per capita cheese consumption and the risk of being strangled by your bedsheets while you sleep: That doesn't mean that eating less cheese is going to help you not die in bed.         [...]



Lowering the bar

2017-05-24T04:22:00-04:00

Raymond Loewy coined the term MAYA to describe Most Advanced Yet Acceptable when it came to futuristic design. The thinking goes that people (the amorphous term for the lumpen masses) won't accept something too advanced, so we ought to lower...        Raymond Loewy coined the term MAYA to describe Most Advanced Yet Acceptable when it came to futuristic design. The thinking goes that people (the amorphous term for the lumpen masses) won't accept something too advanced, so we ought to lower our standards to gain acceptance. But mass acceptance isn't nearly as important as it used to be. Pockets of commitment and enthusiasm are more important than being tolerated or even accepted by the disinterested masses. Our hunch is that we need to average things down if we don't want to be rejected, that we need to offer a bit less if we're hoping to make change happen. Mostly, we tell ourselves to dumb things down and pander to people who don't pay attention, are afraid of forward motion and don't care much either. But the horizontal nature of information flow means that the opposite is now true. We can be as positive and pure and advanced as we can imagine, and some folks will follow. If we can fall out of love with the quick mass hit, the requirement isn't to lower the bar. It's to make big promises and actually keep them. Would you have it any other way?         [...]



Facts are not the antidote for doubt

2017-05-23T05:42:47-04:00

Drink enough water and you will cease to be thirsty. And yet, a doubting person can be drowning in facts, but facts won't change a mind that doesn't want to be changed. More facts don't counter more doubt. Someone who...        Drink enough water and you will cease to be thirsty. And yet, a doubting person can be drowning in facts, but facts won't change a mind that doesn't want to be changed. More facts don't counter more doubt. Someone who is shaking his head, arms folded, eyes squinted and ears closed isn't going to be swayed by more facts. Instead, doubt surrenders to experience. And experience can only happen if there's enrollment. If someone is willing to find the right answer, willing to explore what might be effective, what might be confirmable, then enrolling in the journey to ease doubt opens the door to personal experience. Which, magically, can let the light in. Experience, working it out, touching it, studying it, repeatedly asking why with an open mind... these experiences engage us, earn our attention and gain our trust. Doubt comes from fear, which is why it's so difficult to earn enrollment. People don't want to commit to working their way out of doubt, because doubt is a perverse variation of perceived  safety, a paralysis in the face of the unknown. Earn enrollment first, a commitment to find a path, then bring on the process and the facts.         [...]



Choosing your fuel

2017-05-22T08:07:58-04:00

The work is difficult. Overcoming obstacles, facing rejection, exploring the unknown--many of us need a narrative to fuel our forward motion, something to keep us insisting on the next cycle, on better results, on doing work that matters even more....        The work is difficult. Overcoming obstacles, facing rejection, exploring the unknown--many of us need a narrative to fuel our forward motion, something to keep us insisting on the next cycle, on better results, on doing work that matters even more. The fuel you choose, though, determines how you will spend your days. You will spend far more time marinating in your fuel than you will actually doing breakthrough work. Richard Feynman was famously motivated by the joy of figuring things out. His scientific journey (which earned him a Nobel Prize) also provided him with truly wonderful days. Here is a partial list, in alphabetical order, of narratives light and dark that can serve as fuel to push us to do work that others might walk away from: Avoidance of shame (do this work or you'll be seen as a fraud/loser/outcast) Becoming a better version of yourself Big dreams (because you can see it/feel it/taste it) Catastrophe (or the world as we know it will end) Competition (someone is gaining on you) Compliance (the boss/contract says I have to, and even better, there's a deadline) Connection (because others will join in) Creative itch (the voice inside of you wants to be expressed) Dissatisfaction (because it's not good enough as it is) Engineer (because there's a problem to be solved) Fame (imagining life is better on the other side) Generosity (because it's a chance to contribute) It's a living (pay the writer) Peer pressure (the reunion is coming up) Possibility (because we can, and it'll be neat to see how it works in the world) Professionalism (because it's what we do) Revenge (you'll show the naysayers) Selection (to get in, win the prize, be chosen) Unhappiness (because the only glimmer of happiness comes from the next win, after all, we're not good enough as is) They all work. Some of them leave you wrecked, some create an environment of possibility and connection and joy. Up to you.          [...]



Just words

2017-05-21T05:00:00-04:00

How about, just bullets, just diseases, just starvation? The whole "sticks and stones" canard is really dangerous. When a stone gives you a bruise, it's entirely possible you will completely heal. But when a torrent of words undermine your view...

How about, just bullets, just diseases, just starvation?

The whole "sticks and stones" canard is really dangerous. When a stone gives you a bruise, it's entirely possible you will completely heal. But when a torrent of words undermine your view of what's possible, you might never recover.

Words matter. They can open doors, light a way and make a difference.

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Say one thing at a time

2017-05-20T04:55:00-04:00

I know, you might not get the microphone back for a while. And I know, you want to make sure everyone understands precisely what went into your thinking. Not to mention your desire to make sure that everyone who hears...

I know, you might not get the microphone back for a while.

And I know, you want to make sure everyone understands precisely what went into your thinking. Not to mention your desire to make sure that everyone who hears you hears something that they'd like to hear.

But if you try to say three things, we will hear nothing. Because most of the time, we're hardly listening.

Ads, instructions, industrial design—they all work better when they try to say one thing at a time.

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Three ways to add value

2017-05-18T09:20:33-04:00

Tasks, decisions, and initiation... Doing, choosing, and starting... Each of the three adds value, but one is more prized than the others. Tasks are set up for you. Incoming. You use skill and effort to knock em down one at...

Tasks, decisions, and initiation...

Doing, choosing, and starting...

Each of the three adds value, but one is more prized than the others.

Tasks are set up for you. Incoming. You use skill and effort to knock em down one at a time and move to the next one.

Decisions often overlap with tasks. There are alternatives, and you use knowledge and judgment to pick the best one.

And initiation is what happens when you start something out of nothing, break the pattern, launch the new thing and take a leap.

When we think about humans who have made change happen, institutions who have made a difference, cultural shifts that have mattered, we must begin with initiation.

What value-add did you spend yesterday engaged in? How about tomorrow? 

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Emotional labor

2017-05-18T04:11:00-04:00

That's the labor most of us do now. The work of doing what we don't necessarily feel like doing, the work of being a professional, the work of engaging with others in a way that leads to the best long-term...

That's the labor most of us do now. The work of doing what we don't necessarily feel like doing, the work of being a professional, the work of engaging with others in a way that leads to the best long-term outcome.

The emotional labor of listening when we'd rather yell.

The emotional labor of working with someone instead of firing them.

The emotional labor of seeking out facts and insights that we don't (yet) agree with.

The emotional labor of being prepared.

Of course it's difficult. That's precisely why it's valuable. Sometimes, knowing that it's our job—the way we create value—helps us pause a second and decide to do the difficult work.

Almost no one gets hired to eat a slice of chocolate cake.

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What Henry Ford understood about wages

2017-05-17T04:56:00-04:00

Every time Ford increased the productivity of car production (in one three-year period, he lowered labor costs by 66% per car), he also raised wages. Not merely because it's the right thing to do. He did it because well-paid workers...

Every time Ford increased the productivity of car production (in one three-year period, he lowered labor costs by 66% per car), he also raised wages.

Not merely because it's the right thing to do.

He did it because well-paid workers had more to spend. On houses, on clothes, and of course, on cars.

There's a positive ratchet here.

You can't shrink your way to greatness.

When you enable your workers (and your customers) to do more, connect more, produce more and get paid more, you create a positive system. The goal isn't to clear the table, the goal is to set the table.

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