Actionable Book Summary: This is Marketing by Seth Godin

The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem. It’s a chance to change the culture for the better and it involves very little in the way of shouting or hustling. It’s a chance to serve, instead. This is Marketing by Seth Godin summarizes the essentials to deliver the right message to the right people.

The Core Idea:

You don’t have to steal from your competitors to broaden your market share. You need to talk to them. To show empathy and offer great service. The book will help you spread your ideas. Make the impact you seek to make. Ask the right questions to create a culture, in which people will want to get involved with.


  • Carefully choose your audience. Define what type of people you want to serve and neglect everyone else.
  • Good marketers don’t aim towards our wallets, they mess with our feelings instead.
  • Your brand is not your logo. Neither the colors you use or the design template of your website. It’s what people expect from you. Make a promise and keep up with it.

5 Key Lessons from This is Marketing:

Lesson #1: The King Is Understanding Customers

It’s easier than ever to get the word out. If you’re just starting and you want to create a buzz around what you’re selling, you just need a credit card and a Facebook page. Social media promises interrupting the right people at low costs. However, interfering and creating more noise in the already crowded internet space is not marketing, it’s fighting for attention you don’t yet deserve.

What you can do, though, is to understand your customers and their desires, better. Connect with them. Be friends with them. Make them trust you and share with you their concerns and most sacred wishes.

As the author shares in the book, “It doesn’t make any sense to make a key and then run around looking for a lock to open. The only productive solution is to find a lock and then fashion a key.”

Basically, instead of trying to persuade more people to listen to you, listen to them. Hear what they have to say and make a product or service for these customers. The ones who aren’t satisfied with what’s already out there.

Lesson #2: Marketers Make a Change

People buy very few things because they actually need them. Water and food are the main products that fall under the “I need to buy” category. Everything else we purchase because we want it, and that’s different than the former.

You don’t particularly need the newest MacBook. You can surely do your job on a cheaper device. But you get it because of how it makes you feel. You feel special when your gadgets are cool. You feel different. You want to show them to others. Your status rises, or at least that’s how you feel deep down.

That’s exactly what marketers do. They mess with our feelings. They change our inner state from one emotional mood to another.

If you have something to sell, you need to attack people’s feelings, not directly their wallets. To take them on a journey. Help them become the person they’re trying to be. No one really needs a Ford Mustang, or a $10,000 Rolex. They want the feelings coming along with these products.

So, ask yourself how will your product make others feel?

Lesson #3: Mass Means Average

If you relentlessly pursue the mass market, the “I want everyone to like me” mindset, you’ll create an average product. A flooded with features product that will be quickly forgotten.

Focus your efforts instead. Choose what type of people you want to serve and neglect everyone else. Don’t try to please everyone. Actually, make someone angry. Pick a fight. Explain why the product you’re shipping is not a good fit for everyone and be happy about it.

No matter how big is your budget, you still have a cap. A limited amount of people you can serve at a single moment. That’s why you want to be choosy about which people you want to attract. Because the people you serve are going to determine your future.

Imagine attracting people who only complain and are only buying from you because you offer the lowest price. If that’s the core reason they shop from you, the moment you increase your prices, which inevitably will happen, is the moment you won’t have anyone to sell to.

If you commit your efforts to serve a specific audience, you will not only have more time and money at your disposal, you’ll also have a mob of people who respect you and adore you.

There’s is a corner of the market that awaits you. You just need to define your corner.

Lesson #4: Empathy, The Heart Of Marketing

Everything that we purchase is a bargain for us. For us, personally, a new TV is worth more than what we’ve paid for it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have bought it.

Regardless of what you think about your product and how you market it, people don’t believe what you believe. They don’t want the same things as you do. And that’s normal. We’re all different. That’s why trying to convince others that your product is better by casually sharing the features simply won’t do the job.

Here comes empathy. If the story of your product aligns with the values of the person looking, he’s going to get what you offer. Not because you said it’s better, the customer decides that, not you. You simply tell a story. And if the people listening are caught up by your narrative, they see you as a caring person, as a human, they’ll happily support you.

Don’t be selfish thinking you’ll be best for everyone, be best for some. They’ll be enough.

Lesson #5: What’s Your Brand?

In a world where we’re bombarded with offers and different ads about products that will supposedly make our lives better, it’s kind of crazy to think that you actually have a brand. That people even know your domain. You should be proud if people are mentioning your twitter user every now and then.

Your brand is not what you think – it’s not your logo. It’s not even what you sell. It’s not the colors you use on the packaging or the layout of your website. A brand is your promise to the customers. It is what they expect from you. That’s why it takes so much time to build a brand.

People aren’t stupid. Since attention is scarce nowadays, we now have a radar that filters everything that doesn’t align with our values or looks too good to be true.

The way to tune into the frequency of more people is by promising something and later keeping up with your promise, continuously over time. Your current fans are still with you because you’re delivering on your promise. They expect something from you and while you continue to meet their expectations, and beyond, they will be your fans.

This promise, though, is not something material. It’s emotional. As mentioned in the book, “If you want to build a marketing asset, you need to invest in connection and other nontransferable properties. If people care, you’ve got a brand.”

So, what’s your promise to your customers? What’s your brand?

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Actionable Notes:

  • Define your audience: It’s stupid to think that you can satisfy everyone. Every taste and every living creature with what you have to offer. Clearly outline the group, the type of people who you want as customers, as people that will use your brand and neglect everyone else.
  • Listen to your customers: It’s easy to get lost in datasheets, analytics, charts, and ways to optimize your click-through rate. While enhancing your website is important, the thing you should be really focusing on should be listening to your customers and giving them what they want. To do so, however, you first need to spark a conversation with them.
  • The marketing of dog food: Americans spent more than twenty-four billion dollars on dog food per year. Hearing that number makes you think that people eat dog food, but they don’t. However, the whole marketing is focused on the owners. They buy expensive, gourmet food for their pets for the way it makes them feel. They buy the sensation. The satisfaction of taking care of an animal that responds with trust and loyalty. So, don’t try to sell a product, market an emotion.
  • What you stand for: You don’t have a real purpose or a real vision for your brand if you just want to be successful. You need to know what you stand for. What change do you seek to make? Describe who and what it’s your product for. Outline the change you seek to make and things will be a lot easier.
  • Make something you’re proud of: The best way to tell a story, your story, and later market it, is by creating something you’re proud of. Something with a soul inside. Bring value to the people you want to serve and do it again, and then do it again.

Commentary And My Personal Takeaway

It’s difficult to find a book about marketing that’s actually good. Well, This is Marketing by Seth Godin is really good. It’s actually one of the best books on this subject, at least that’s my opinion. Easy to read with a lot of practical advice that you can implement immediately on your project.

Often business books talk about how to increase your market share and how to convince more people to buy from you. This is Marketing by Seth Godin is all about creating value and making connections with your current and future customers. It’s about the long term success over the short term buzz that people will quickly forget about. “Seek to make a change” and “market an emotion” are the things I liked most.

So, if you want more on the subject, I definitely recommend getting the book.

Notable Quotes:

And if you tell yourself a story enough times, you will make it true.” Seth Godin

Now, instead of asking, “How can I get more people to listen to me, how can I get the word out, how can I find more followers, how can I convert more leads to sales, how can I find more clients, how can I pay my staff . . . ?” you can ask, “What change do I seek to make?” Seth Godin

Once you’re part of a tribe, your success is their success.” Seth Godin

The most important lesson I can share about brand marketing is this: you definitely, certainly, and surely don’t have enough time and money to build a brand for everyone. You can’t. Don’t try. Be specific. Be very specific.” Seth Godin

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