Seth Godin. If you’re involved in marketing or digital media today, you no doubt know who he is. And if so, then you can likely identify him in a picture. In a recent blog post by one of our (Boxman Studios) customers at the Google Garage made me sit up. Here’s the picture:
Who is that guy on the left? Seth Godin. Or at least it sure looks like him. No where in the blog post does it say that this is Seth Godin. But it is.
So why do I know this? How was I able to identify a man I don’t know from the back? I do not read his blog regularly. I have never picked up one of his books. I have never heard him speak (not even on video.) I do not follow him in any capacity in digital media. So how do I know? Because he is a brand. He’s the brand of Seth. The bald head. The yellow-framed glasses. The fact he’s in a picture at a TED conference.
From what I’ve read on his blog, Seth Godin as an outstanding writer. But like with most marketing writers, I don’t feel like anything he’s saying is new. He’s just saying things better than the others. The bottom line is that it’s all just rehashed info for a modern audience. Zig Ziglar 2.0, if you will.
Look, if you’re a writer who is willing to bucket yourself into a specific genre – you are going to develop a niche audience. If you’re a talented writer who is willing to do this, your audience is going to grow proportionate with your talent. When you say things that people agree with, and you say them really well, that’s gold. However, if you’re a talented writer (with a large audience) and you’ve also got a secondary hook, well that’s wildfire. Seth Godin is a talented writer. But he’s not saying anything new. He’s drawing on universal themes that have been proven before, and then spinning them for a new audience. But the big difference is that he’s also got a secondary hook: His looks. He’s bald. He wears yellow framed glasses. He dresses a specific way. His smile is consistent in every photograph. Because of this, and considering his talent, Seth Godin is an iconic figure that people recognize with minimum effort. And that, my friends, is called good branding.
Like Cher, Bono and Charo – in the world of digital media and marketing, the name Seth is iconic enough to stand on its own. But it still doesn’t mean he’s saying anything new. It’s just really good branding. If you’re an aspiring marketing guru and you’ve got serious talent as a writer, find yourself a secondary hook and ride that pony as far as you can.
Just don’t shave your head – it’s been done already.
3 CommentsLEAVE A COMMENT
Mar 15, 2012
Nice points, Jim.
I have to admit that I’m a Papa Seth fanboy. He is a master at promoting himself, but even beyond that – and to your point – he is able to reframe the conversation in a simple, direct way that makes you (well, me) stop and think about what he said.
Hands down, Purple Cow is my favorite Seth book and really laid the groundwork for my career, professional beliefs and client projects. Again, I already believed a lot of these things, but I was forced to question them and think about them differently. I still think he had our office bugged at Brains on Fire when he wrote Tribes – another solid read.
I don’t read every word the guy writes or agree 100% of the time, but that’s okay. In this business, we need icons and figures we know and trust. And for me, it’s Seth.
Mar 15, 2012
Damn Spike, I thought I was. So that’s him in the picture, yes? I don’t hate the guy – I just kind of resent how he has utilized his secondary hook. I hate that I know who he is without knowing anything about him. In a good way, I mean. I don’t particularly like most good writers I know.
Mar 16, 2012
Sorry to let you down, Jim.
I can’t say for certain, but I’d put good money on that being Seth in the picture. Long ago I came to grips with the fact that Seth is a great marketer for Seth and I can’t dislike him for that. The guy’s smart.
Here’s to hoping you hate me someday.