A while ago I read Seth Godin’s This is Marketing; in this article I’ll try to parse meaning so you can apply his insights to your own creative projects. (Some of this may be paraphrased as I’m working off quick notes.)
Firstly, Seth addresses the doubt and fear most creatives face around marketing their work: they just aren’t getting seen. They don’t have enough work and feel like it’s an uphill battle. But the solution is pretty simple: offer more value. People won’t engage or share your message unless they are experiencing the positive benefits.
“If you aren’t busy enough – your ideas aren’t spreading. The people you care about aren’t achieving everything they hoped.”
“Marketing is not a battle, it’s not a war, it’s not even a contest. Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve their problem.”
Seth lays out a simple five step process for marketing.
Marketing in 5 steps
- The first step is to invest a thing worth making, with a story worth telling, and a contribution worth talking about.
- The second step is to design and build it in a way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about.
- The third step is to tell a story that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of that tiny group of people.
- Fourth step: spread the word.
- Fifth step: show up, regularly, consistently, generously, for years and years.
Other useful quotes:
“Change is best made with intent. “What’s it for” is the posture of work that matters.”
“Desire for gain versus avoidance of loss.”
“People don’t want your shit. They want belonging, connection, peace of mind, status or other desired emotions. the thing you sell is a road to those feelings.”
“The people you seek to serve: what do they believe? What do they want?”
“Always be seeking, connecting, solving, asserting, believing, seeing and testing; in other words, always be wrong.”
“If you can’t succeed in the small, why do you believe you will succeed in the large?”
“Your work is a tree. The roots live in the soil of dreams and desires. Not the dreams and desires of everyone; simply those you seek to serve.”
“A brand is shorthand for a customer’s expectations. what promise do they think you’re making? what do they expect when they buy from you or meet with you or hire you? If people care, you’ve got a brand.”
“Amazement and delight go a long way.”
“Cheap” is another way to say “Scared.”
“Support, reinforce their dreams, ameliorate their fears.”
Lowering your price doesn’t make you more trusted. It does the opposite.”
“This is the false promise of the internet. That you can be happy with a tiny slice of the long tail. That anyone can sing or write or dance or do comedy or coach or freelance, and so anyone will, and so you’ll be fine. Except you won’t be fine, because you can’t live on that. The internet can live on that, upwork and fiverr and netflix and amazon can live on that, but you can’t.”
Half of amazon sales are books that are not in the top five thousand.
“It is never the case that people will tell their friends because you want them to, or because you asked them to, or because you worked hard. Give them a why. And that usually involves changing what you offer. Make things better by making better things.”
“Your story of self, your transition. Your chance to explain that you are people like us.”
“It explains why your story is relevant to us. and how we will benefit when we’re part of people like us.”
“The method isn’t to go out and find an agent. The method is to do work so impossibly magical that agents and producers come looking for you.”
“Perfect closes the door. It asserts that we’re done, that this is the best we can do. Worse, perfect forbids us to try. To seek perfection and not reach it is failure.”
“Better opens the door. Better challenges us to see what’s there and begs us to imagine how we could improve upon that.”
“If you hesitate to market your offering properly, it’s not that you’re being shy or circumspect. It’s that you’re stealing, because there’s someone who needs to learn from you, engage with you or buy from you. Someone will benefit from your better if you get out of your own way and market it.”