Marketing Lessons From Seth Godin

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The best businesses have the marketing baked into the product and/or service.

That seems rudimentary enough, but leave it to Seth Godin to say it in such an easy to understand way. Godin’s been thinking, writing and talking this way for a very long time, but he lives it as well. Have you been following his latest venture, The Domino Project? His newly launched publishing company (in partnership with Amazon) was created to re-energize a lagging book publishing industry and he’s definitely been shaking things up. This week, The Domino Project launched their fourth title, Anything You Want, written by CD Baby founder, Derek Sivers. I ploughed through the book in about an hour. I smiled the whole way through. I took notes. I thought of many people that would benefit from reading it. I felt like I needed to buy my three other business partners at Twist Image their own copies of the book. I’m begging you now to buy the book and read it (yes, it’s that good).

The marketing of Anything You Want is built into the book.

The other three books out on The Domino Project imprint (Poke The Box, Do The Work! and Self-Reliance) are also pretty amazing. In thinking about it, Seth Godin is not only churning out best-seller after best-seller, he’s also giving a master-class in the art of marketing. And, here are some of the lessons…

  • Quality is job one. The books are all great – from top to bottom. Godin knows the business (he has countless best-sellers of his own), so he’s curating the content to ensure that if someone picks it up, they won’t be let down.
  • Relevant to the times. In a world of Blogs, tweets and Facebook pages, it’s hard to get people to commit to reading a 300-page work of non-fiction. The truth is that it was hard to do this long before Twitter. The Domino Project books are in and around 100 pages each (they take about an hour to read). They’re also portable. How many books have you bought with the best intentions of reading, but they’re simply to big to lug around?
  • Available in as many formats as the consumer demands. Print, audio, digital, in bulk and with bonus features. How ever you want to consume the content in Anything You Want, you can. They’re not hung up on making people jump through hoops to consume this content. It’s available… and waiting for you. Oh, and they’re very fairly priced too.
  • Word of mouth trumps mass advertising. If a book is good, the right people will talk about it and that will connect the content to more like-minded people. These books are not for everyone and they can’t be marketed the same way that a Harry Potter book is launched. This means that the majority of people may never even find out about these books… and that’s the point. These titles aren’t for the majority of people, they’re designed for a select group, so the marketing and communications is aimed at that group. As Godin says, "great ideas spread."
  • The conversation continues. The book doesn’t end on the last page of the last chapter. The Domino Project encourages conversation and gives readers access to a myriad of places where they can either contribute to or start their own discussion about the book, but The Domino Project does it in a very non-invasive way. They’re less pushy and much more encouraging. Yes, it’s a question of tone and sentiment… and they nail it.
  • Classy. Everything is both simple and classy. You feel like you’re getting your money’s worth and you don’t feel like you’re being marketed to. A restaurant with great service is a restaurant where the service is next-to invisible because everything is being taken care of without interrupting the guest’s conversation and enjoyment of the meal. Everything about The Domino Project books are this kid of classy.
  • Begging for more. When a book is done, you’re begging for more. The book – in and of itself – is perfect. It’s complete. It needs nothing else added to it, but you still want more. That’s power. That’s powerful.

Great Marketing is about telling great stories and making those stories easy to share. Brands could learn a lot from The Domino Project.


  1. Well said, and that’s what I’ve always respected about Seth – he practices what he preaches. It is fun to watch, and to learn from. -Tom

  2. Seth says things so well and so simply. Today he said “Instead of readers for your books, you look for books for your readers. I think that applies to countless endeavors”.
    It is such a paradigm shift from traditional business but we know it works because he is doing exactly that with The Domino Project. He says it and he does it.
    I can’t wait to read this book (tomorrow) because I know that I will do what you did – smile and nod as I read and take tons of notes. And I know that whatever is released next will be something that I will probably read as well.
    You don’t have to market to the millions – you need to find a niche and serve it well.

  3. Ordered on CD within minutes of reading Seth’s post. I paid so little attention (call me a Seth automaton) I don’t even know when it’s coming.

  4. Seth is mentor for most of us and i always follow him and try to implement what he is been teaching about marketing.

  5. That’s right. Instead of treating the bookstore as the customer, he’s treating the reader as the customer…what a concept. Instead of worrying about the NYT Bestseller list, or getting prime shelf space he’s able to do amazing things: sell books in 52 packs, make books under 100 pages, put no words on the cover, price the books cheap…Seth is brilliant.

  6. If you scan across the marketing landscape, Seth Godin is a shining beacon of how to do it right. No one in this game has more clout and staying power. I just wish there was a conference enticing enough to bring him to Calgary 🙂
    Great set of lessons shared, Mitch! This is one of my favorite blogs to read and you always deliver!

  7. Mitch, I think something also unique to Seth is that his audience takes action after being prompted. A few friends started with Pressfield and Godin’s permission. His tribe doesn’t just listen, they ACT.

  8. I’m with you Mitch. Seth’s ten times smarter than I, but I still see a place for longer works. Think about a book like The Long Tail or Blink. To me, those books just wouldn’t have been as powerful or well-developed in 90 pages. That’s me, though. Maybe I’m a dinosauer.

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