Seth Godin: One size no longer fits all

As our world moves from an industrial past to a future of abundance, business needs to embrace the weird.

“We’re currently in the middle of a revolution. Just about everything we did is going to be done differently.” Seth Godin thinks we need to start paying attention. “We need to re-see the world around us – sometimes the world changes, and we’re blind to it. Our industrial past turned jobs from crafts into assembly line processes. Mass production needs mass distribution, mass merchants, mass marketing. Essentially, the same four letter word drove business up to this point – more.”

However, in an age of abundance, mass appeal means average – and average today is essentially invisible. “Consumers have an infinite number of replaceable choices. “They’re all the same, take the cheap one” is a sentence that threatens what you do. In terms of branding and advertising, people are choosing not to listen – we have branded ourselves to death. We gave people a remote control, and they’re choosing to use it.”

However, there’s also good news, if you have the ability to see things differently. Successful businesses are now moving away from the central meat of the bell-shaped curve, and are instead tailoring their businesses to embrace the needs of the weird. “Treat different people differently. The bell shaped curve is melting. There are now more weird people than normal people. The weird people (the ones with the problem) will be the only ones who listen to you. You don’t get to tell people what they’re interested in – you no longer get to change their narrative.”

This may prove painful for some. “It’s at the edges where we need to be marketing – it’s hard to hear in an engineering-centric culture where doing it right is more valued than doing it interesting. The connection economy – where standing out is the new norm – is where we are now. We cannot cause interest to occur. Instead, we need to find small threads of interest and amplify them.”

Conversely, people across the globe are looking for something that is remarkable – something that is worth making a remark about. “Today’s marketing is what you make, what does it mean to be associated with a product, service or company. If something is remarkable – even (or especially) to a niche tribe of people – the spam filters turn off and the remote control goes in the drawer. Ask yourself: how much time do we spend making something worth taking about?”

In fact, these tribes of weirdos are looking for connection, for leadership. “People like doing what other people are doing. We like being in sync with our tribe. It’s your job to create a tribe so people can be seen, connected. The Beatles didn’t invent teenagers. They turned up to lead them.” Who will you lead into the future?


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