This is Marketing by Seth Godin

I’m a huge fan of Seth Godin (check out the review of The Big Red Fez here) and his blog is amazing. I saw that he had a new book out and couldn’t wait to read it. I bought This is Marketing on Google Books (I find myself switching between hard copy, my Kindle and phone as they all have great deals) but want to get a hard copy so that I can easily refer back to it and write in it.


What is This is Marketing about?

This is Marketing is, as the name suggests, about marketing. But instead of marketing as you know it, Godin shows there is still not only a place for marketing but marketing we can actually be proud of.

I work in digital communications and it is so easy to become jaded. Too often people drink their own Kool-Aid and lose sight of doing good work that produces results. This book shows you how you can change that.

Solve a real problem

You need to start with a big idea. But how do you find this idea? You solve a problem. Some advertising is flawed because companies want to solve their own problems (usually to make money) by using people (with advertising). Instead, you should be solving people’s problems through your company. This way you can improve lives and make things better.

Share your idea with 10 of your friends or people you think would be interested. If most aren’t interested, start again.

Start with the smallest viable audience

This point was brought up earlier in the book but it is one that has stuck with me the most. Just like Retroviral aims to be the best, not the biggest social media agency, you should aim for the smallest group that would make something worth doing (could be for monetary value or personal satisfaction or both).

The idea is to find a tribe and find out what stories that target audience tells themselves. These aren’t always rational stories and you need to match their habits with things they are used to.

If they aren’t interested, it’s not for them and that’s OK. Find a tribe that is and that’s your minimum viable audience. 

Price is personal

Of course, money is important. According to Godin, price is personal and depends on status and affiliations.  Making something cheaper or the cheapest is the best way to compete without marketing but that doesn’t mean much. People don’t mind paying if they get value. And that value can bring peace of mind and buying into a story.

He uses the example of dog food. The price of dog food has increased significantly but dogs aren’t happier, the owners are because they are buying into a story that they are good owners and buy the best for their dogs. The extra they pay is worth it to them.

Should you read This is Marketing?

Godin-purists might find it is a bit of a re-hash of old content, but I like that it is all in one easy to read book. There’s lots to digest, so I found myself re-reading chapters. A lot of concepts are introduced (too many to mention in this review, like tension) but all of them get you thinking.

The case studies aren’t that in depth and one looks at the NRA (yes the gun people in the US) but what’s important is what you take away from them and I think the point he is trying to make is that you get to choose what kind of work you want to do.


This is Marketing shows that good work always wins in the long run. It’s something I ascribe to, and strongly believe that you should always let your work speak for you. People will figure out pretty quickly what works for them and what doesn’t.

Even in his thank you, Godin said he was excited to see what people were going to do with the ideas. And that’s what this book is about, teaching you the concepts so that you can bring them to life.

If you’re interested in the concepts discussed, check out the video and podcast below:

Book Notes illustrates the main points from This is Marketing

Listen as Seth Godin talks about This is Marketing

I'd love to chat to you some more.


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