A day with Seth Godin

The hashtag #SethinLondon was trending on Tuesday as the man behind the blog was in London for one day only. During a five hour long question and answer session he offered his personal ideas on the world of marketing and beyond.

Seth talks with an air of great confidence with an almost textbook answer for any question thrown at him, you can tell he has done this before!

From the many questions and points raised by Seth, there were two that stood out above the others which any business of any size can use to rise above their competitors.

Do not be afraid of failing

The idea that Seth started with in his opening gambit was to not be afraid to fail. He believes that it is better to have many ideas and then to focus down on to one than to have only a handful of ideas. As he told us ‘rather than look for good ideas, focus on generating lots of bad ideas and some good ones will find their way in’ which harks back to the good old trial and error method where we only find out what works for us by trialling and testing it.

Take, for example, Seth’s own blog as a manifestation of this mantra. He told us at the seminar that each day he writes around 15 blog posts of which 11 he discards, 3 he types up and one is published. This reinforces the idea that you can come up with multiple ideas before you have a good one and that any idea is a bad idea until it is a good one. If it is true for Seth, it is true for us!

Find Your Niche

The second main point that was to be taken from the seminar was that for businesses, however large or small, it is vital to find a niche. Seth has always been critical of the idea of mass marketing, i.e. targeting your product or service to the largest possible number of people. Instead he advocates focusing on the smallest number of people possible that you are able to change which will enable you to then slowly access larger numbers of groups.

By this he means that it is much easier to change the behaviours and attitudes of individuals one by one or in small groups and then give them the courage and ammunition to spread the word and become evangelical. This is what Seth calls the layering affect where as you access one group and change their behaviours or attitudes to your product or service they will provide you with access to the next group (or layer) of potential customers. It is all about starting out small and working your way through layers of customers. He also said not to worry if you choose the wrong group of people to start with as ‘if people don’t get it, it is not for them’ which again takes us back to the aspect of not being afraid to make mistakes.

Seth gave us the example of Airbnb as a company who made it through using this layering affect. The company started out by reaching out to a small group of American ‘hipsters’ who needed a place to crash, effectively making it a couch surfing site. This small group of people used it and told others about it which allowed more people to be exposed to it which eventually made it the biggest hotel chain in the world.

In conclusion, Seth observes that for most start ups ‘scale must be as small as you can make it’ so our main thought taken from the seminar was; ‘to target the smallest number of people that will enable you to get to the next group of people’. A lesson we can surely all take on board.

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Entrepreneurial business woman with a slightly off-beat sense of humour

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