Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My take on: Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin

I'm just finishing reading the book Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin. He's the permission marketing guy who also wrote Purple Cow and many other books. It's a really good guidebook, especially for folks who are marketing to consumers. Mr. Godin always seems to have a lot of "old school" and "new school" comparisons, and this book is no exception. He gives lots of real world examples, and I love that.

The idea of a meatball sundae - there are a lot of companies out there who have "meatballs" to sell - traditional products that are pretty good, but ordinary. Mr. Godin observes that the "old way" of just putting a TV ad out there and presenting a pretty good product to a large audience is failing. Then, he points out pitfalls in the technique of using "new marketing" (internet-driven techniques) to sell "old products". Hence the "Sundae". Some companies are trying to put hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry on top of a "meatball" and then wondering why the marketing techniques don't work.

Here are some key takeaways from my perspective.
  • the Internet has enabled and empowered consumers in a totally new way.
  • unique distribution and marketing channels have spawned micro-markets that can now be successful without physical locations (like T-shirt co. threadless.com microfinance co. Kiva and others)
  • customization is king: more than ever, consumers want choices and ways to strip away excess "features" to save money
  • as marketing clutter surges, interruption marketing (like TV ads and email promotions) are less viable
  • great service wins (by the way, service and marketing are inextricably linked)
My recommendation: if you read through the 14 key points, and use 3-4 of them, it's a very practical approach. As always, I really enjoyed Mr. Godin's insight.

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