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2019 Marketing Strategy: Food for Thought From Seth Godin

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on January 16, 2019 at 2:24 PM

HigherLogic_Seth Godin Marketing Strategy 2019

The start of a new year is a great time to reevaluate your current marketing strategy and decide which tools and changes you can implement to drive maximum success in the months ahead. Now, I know strategizing is no easy feat, but approaching this task doesn’t have to be daunting when you’ve got guidance from the pros.

Seth Godin, a best-selling American author and entrepreneur, recently shared a multitude of thought-provoking perspectives while promoting his newest book This is Marketing on the podcast Self Made Man. The episode focuses on how marketing is changing, and when the host asks about how people should measure the effectiveness of their marketing today, Seth said:

“It begins with the feeling of knowing who would miss you if you didn't show up tomorrow. If your brand were to disappear tomorrow, who would truly miss you? If your podcast didn't go live on its scheduled day, how many people would you hear from? If you shut down your restaurant on Thursday, how many people on Friday would feel bereft?”

You can get a better idea of where you are today, and where you want to go, by considering your answer to this question and contemplating some more of Seth’s marketing points.

Building Community is Part of Building a Memorable Brand

Seth Godin went on to say that, “This sense that there’s a vacuum if you’re gone means that you matter, that you’re not simply a click... that you're not simply annoying your way into some sort of cash flow.” Nailed it. I certainly don’t miss it when a marketer stops sending me irrelevant emails, and I definitely don’t talk about brands that go missing if I’ve never engaged with them or found true value in their product.

So, if your brand were to disappear tomorrow, are you sure people would notice, much less miss you?

Spoiler alert: Your product may be amazing, but if your brand isn’t bringing people together in a way that sparks a genuine connection, it’s not going to have the same high-level impact as brands who are focused on building community. Those are the brands that stick.

Consumers will continue to miss and advocate for brands who are purpose-driven as opposed to only profit-driven. You can start building a community around your brand by setting a precedent of communication with your customers that lets them know you value their input, and not just when you want them to buy something. Strive to consistently create and deliver valuable content that sparks customer-to-customer conversations surrounding your product and purpose, and consider hosting events where your customers can forge those interactions.

Resource: 3 Customer-Focused Benefits of an Online Community

What is Your Brand’s Real Purpose? Marketing to Make Change Happen

Is your current strategy promoting positive change? Are you building a community that people will miss or just gaining temporary traction?

Seth says that “If you’re not making change happen, you’re not doing anything productive.” When contemplating the impact of the change you want to make with your product or community, chew on this question from Seth:

Is there something about this change we are making that is evangelically contagious? That people are proud of engaging with me, SO MUCH, that they want to tell the other? Because there are very few products in the world where that can't be true, and if you choose to make it true, then most of your marketing problems will go away.

Brand Relevance & Loyalty: You Can’t Annoy Your Way to the Top

According to Seth, people now have the power to ignore your brand, and because they can, they will. Consumers don’t owe you their attention, you have to earn it and be conscious of the fact that brands are continuously dancing a fine line between reaching their customers at the right time and annoying the crap out of them. Consider Seth’s perspective on this point:

“It’s never been easier to annoy people than it is now, but, attention, which I then push to the level of permission, means: Can you deliver anticipated, personal and relevant messages to the people who want to get them?

If you think you can’t, think again. Modern day marketing is all about offering real value to real humans, and effective [not annoying] marketing personalization is just one of many great tools for reaching your audience in a way that ignites consistent engagement in a relevant, welcomed fashion.

Like we always say, it’s all about delivering the right message to the right people at the right time. When you strategize to combine those efforts with community building, your customer loyalty can skyrocket, transforming your customers into valued advocates (who’d miss you).

Give Your People Something (Meaningful) to Talk About

Those are the same advocates who will talk about your brand in a positive light, minimizing your risk of disappearing among your competitors. But you have to give them something to talk about. As it stands, when people talk about your brand, what do they say? First - do they even talk about you? Seth says that for most brands and marketers, the answer is no, they don’t.

If they are talking, which you want them to be, what do they say? According to Seth, “If you set out to have them say something, and you make that thing true, you’re probably a better marketer than somebody who simply says, ‘You need widgets? I got widgets. You can pick anyone - we’re anyone.’ That’s not a scalable solution.” Define your purpose and strive to be the better marketer, understanding that word-of-mouth has, and always will, reign supreme.

Go to Your People, Find Out Where They Want to Go & Adapt

Seth says it’s important to find a group of people and obsess about what they want based on where they are trying to go, and then bring them something that gets under their skin and causes a conversation. He believes this is incredibly important, while fundamentally different than what most marketers do. Communicate with people on a platform where they want to communicate - they aren’t going to flock to your brand in droves without a reason. Most importantly, make the choice to sell something your people want to hear from you about.

According to Seth, “That choice means going to people where they are. The practical empathy of saying ‘I don’t know what you know, I don't want what you want, I don't believe what you believe... and that's okay. It’s okay for you to be who you are and where you are, I will come to you. Because I can no longer demand that you come to me.” Be willing to learn.

A successful marketing strategy will take some trial and error, but Seth would encourage you to be adaptable and not give up on your pursuit of building a valued, memorable brand, noting:

“What actually works in marketing is setting up shop and staying there, not finding new people for your product, but finding new products for your people.”

Resource: Transform Your Customer Marketing with Online Community

Looking to the Future: Heart, Soul, and the Right Tools

One of the most effective ways you can facilitate meaningful conversations with your audience while building real brand value in 2019 is to leverage the power of marketing automation in combination with online community software.

I know that I’ve asked you to consider a lot of heavy-hitting questions here, but when it comes to addressing your mission and strategy for the year and measuring your success, the final few questions Seth leaves us with are perhaps the most important: who’s it for and what’s it for? And what change are you seeking to make?

“If your only answer is ‘I want to grow market share and margin,’ then I don't think you're bringing enough heart and soul to what you do.”

Listen to the full podcast here for more thought-provoking insights. Want to learn more about the intersection of online community and marketing automation to drive engagement? We’ll be chatting about it a lot in 2019, so be sure to subscribe to our blog.

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Topics: Marketing, Customer Engagement, Customer Advocacy, Marketing Automation, Online Community

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