Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Words of Wisdom from Seth Godin

Love him or hate him (or just give in and admit that, as a marketer, you're insanely jealous of him), Seth Godin generally has something interesting and valuable to say. I really liked reading through these words of wisdom:

Top 10 Secrets of the Marketing Process
Try these 10 ideas to get you started down the path of scientific marketing tactics:

1. Don’t run out of money. It always takes longer and costs more than you expect to spread your idea. You can budget for it or you can fail.

2. You won’t get it right the first time. Your campaign will need to be reinvented, adjusted or scrapped. Count on it.

3. Convenient choices are not often the best choices. Just because an agency, an asset or a bizdev deal are easy to do doesn’t mean that they are your best choice.

4. Irrational, strongly held beliefs of close advisors should be ignored. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like your logo.

5. If it makes you nervous, it’s probably a good idea. If you’re sure you’re right, you probably aren’t.

6. Focusing obsessively on one niche, one feature and one market is almost always a better idea than trying to satisfy everyone.

7. At some point, you’re either going to have to stick to your convictions or do what the market tells you. It’s hard to do both.

8. Compromise in marketing is almost always a bad idea. Extreme A could work. Extreme B could work. The average of A and B will almost never work.

9. Test, measure and optimize. Figure out what's working and do it more.

10. Read and learn. There are a million clues, case studies, books and proven tactics out there. You can't profitably ignore them until you know them, and you don't have the time or the money to make the same mistake someone else made last week. It's cheaper and faster to read about it than it is to do it.

My favorite is point 6: focusing obsessively. For smaller companies, and even for larger companies that are market challengers, not leaders, this is the best way to go. Why is focus so important?

Because it lets you constrain your market to one that's identifiable and manageable. Even if you have a generic product that could be all things to all men, if you're small you are not likely to have the money or people resources required to reach it. Faced with this, your alternatives are:
  • Going after the larger market, anyway, diluting your resources and message, and not being all that successful, except in a scattershot, occasional way.
  • Sitting around sulking, whining, and pitying yourself because you can't get at that great big market that you know would just love you to pieces if they knew about you. (Sniff sniff, boo hoo.)
  • Figure out some part of the great, big market that you want to go after, and JUST DO IT.
If you already have some customers, and there seems to be some type of pattern - vertical or otherwise - pick the group with the most instances, and find the rest of them. Because you already have customers in this group, you already know what to say when you get there, and you'll be able to provide your prospects with a customer list that will likely be known to them.

If you don't have customers yet, sit down and figure out the ideal, ideal prospect. If you can't limit things at all, and the world is truly your oyster, put all the possibilities in a hat, and pick one out. (That's your pearl of great wisdom.)

If you have one or two differentiating features, what type of buyer will that most appeal to? Doesn't matter if there aren't that many of them for starters. Find the ones there are out there and go get 'em.

Maybe your niche will be geographic in focus.

Once you start selling into a focused niche, I guarantee you will get very good at it. You will learn the niche issues and lingo. You will be able to make an argument that it makes more sense to go with you, who's focused on this niche, than with the larger, market share vendor who doesn't have any particular knowledge of or interest in your prospect's business.

Once you've established a foothold in your niche, you start reaching out. What are the adjacent niches? Pinpoint your niche on the conceptual (or geographic map, if your focus has been locality) map and start drawing wider and wider circles around it. That'll tell you where to go next.

It's easy to let yourself get discouraged when you're in a small, unknown, no budget, no market share company. But if you pick your niche and go after it, you can become the best at it and grow from there. Being focused on a niche is not limiting, it's liberating!

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