This Is Marketing by Seth Godin (Book Review)

I don’t have a business degree and have never taken a marketing course in college. Everything I learn has been through podcasts, books, articles, blog posts, and a few videos on Lynda or Linked In Learning, as it’s now called.

Seth Godin’s books have been invaluable to me over the past eight years since I discovered him online. His insight, encouragement, and knack for getting to the core of each idea he talks or writes about has been invaluable in my actual everyday life, before I started a business.

When I was a stay-at-home homeschooling mother I read Seth’s books and blog. His message about “work that matters” has always inspired me. I’m an INFJ, so doing work that matters is pretty much as important as breathing. On page 14 of his latest book, This is Marketing, Seth Godin writes:

“Marketing is the act of making change happen”.

And he shows us how we can use the principles of marketing to share our meaningful work with the world and bring about change. All through this book, and, indeed, all of Seth’s work, you will hear him talk about doing “work that matters for people who care” and that we, as marketers, are meant to serve people and add value.

This is not the way marketing was seen in the past. It is no longer considered a good marketing practice to selfishly demand that people (who don’t know us) give us their time and attention as we try to sell them something. Instead, we are to start by showing up consistently, bringing our best to people, and serving them.

Then, if we earn their trust and we become part of a “tribe” or community of people who share interests, we can offer what we have. And they might actually choose to listen to our message and, possibly, to buy from us. One very important point Seth makes in Chapter 20 “Organizing and Leading a Tribe” is this:The tribe doesn’t belong to you, so you don’t get to tell the members what to do or to use them for your own aims.” (p. 230)

I hear a lot about “building your tribe” and “growing your followers on social” from successful influencers, but Seth is right: if you are lucky enough to have a group of people who want to listen to you, that’s great! But you don’t own that community–you are there to serve them, not use them.

I’m jumping around a bit, but Chapter 9, “People Like Us Do Things Like This” is about people’s desire to fit in and their perception of status. Seth explains why it is so difficult to bring about change. I found this chapter super helpful to understand why marketing can be so difficult.

Chapter 10 is about the creation of tension, as a marketer, in order to bring about forward motion, and, thus, the change we want to make. He explains “pattern match” and “pattern interrupt”. This was helpful in understanding what to do about the resistance people have to change.

Other valuable and practical insights can be found in his chapters “A Better Business Plan”, “The Funnel”, and “Status, Dominance, and Affiliation”.

I always appreciate the generosity with which Seth shares his wisdom and the clear way he explains marketing principles so that anyone can comprehend them. Throughout the book, just like in everything else he shares with the world, Seth’s message is about being generous and doing your best work. Not perfect work, just your best. And then ship it. And then tomorrow you can make it better.

If you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, or involved with marketing in any organization, including non-profits, you need to read this book. Buy it here or at your favorite bookstore or borrow it from your local library, but definitely put it on your TBR list! Oh and one final book nerd note: at 5.3 inches by 7.3 inches, the size of this book feels just right to hold in my hands.

There are Amazon affiliate links in this post. This means if you choose to make a purchase through a link, the cost to you is nothing extra, but I will receive a small compensation. This helps me pay for the costs associated with running this blog, as I am determined to keep my blog ad-free (you’re welcome!).

2 thoughts on “This Is Marketing by Seth Godin (Book Review)

  1. athousandbitsofpaper October 28, 2019 / 12:40 am

    Hi there – Great post – I must check this book out – you have mentioned a lot of very valid points that Seth makes.

    • Kim October 28, 2019 / 3:23 pm

      Thanks! Yes, I recommend anything by Seth Godin!

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