This Is Marketing Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: This Is Marketing argues that marketing success in today’s world comes from focusing more on the needs, values, and desires of our target audience, rather than spamming as many people as possible with our message.

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This is Marketing Summary

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Advertising as we’ve known it is dead. Most companies when they think of marketing assume it means ads. Trying to get their product or service in front of as many eyes as possible feels like the obvious answer to needing more sales. With the information age in full swing, it’s time for a broader and more accurate understanding of what marketing really means. 

Knowing that he is the author of books like Purple Cow, and The Dip, it’s clear that Seth Godin is well acquainted with marketing and business principles. He is also the author of the popular Seth’s Blog, which is about “marketing, tribes, and respect.” Additional evidence of Seth’s knowledge of these principles comes from his experience founding two companies and authoring an incredible 18 books.

In This Is Marketing, Godin delves into some of the misconceptions surrounding marketing that make it difficult right now. More importantly, he teaches the principles that will help any company successfully make it through the competitive world of marketing. 

Here are the 3 biggest lessons I’ve learned from this book:

  1. Trying to use the internet to get your product or service in front of your audience isn’t as effective as targeting those individuals you want to serve and their traits. 
  2. Bring your audience together into a tribe by using language that connects with their worldview. 
  3. Utilize the power of networks to take your offering from initial fans to the general public.

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Lesson 1: Specific groups of people are the future of marketing, not attempting to get as many eyes on your company as possible.

To understand marketing today, we need to take a quick look at history. In the 1960s only three major television channels existed in the United States. If you wanted people to see what you were selling, you’d want to run an ad on one of these channels. After getting millions of eyes on your product, you’d likely meet your marketing goals and make more money. 

Maybe you’re sitting there thinking “Great! Internet marketing; let’s go!” Not so fast. While advertising on the internet might sound like a simple idea, it’s not that easy. Even with the targeted ads, the 24-7 availability of your message, and measurable results that weren’t available in the industrial age, you still have a problem. You now compete with every other company that is trying to utilize these same tools. It’s hard to get to the top when there are so many clamoring for attention, even in niche markets.

The answer, Godin suggests, lies in finding a basic need or desire and creating something that solves that demand. Take any human need like freedom, belonging, connection, strength, or adventure and find a way to fulfill that need. Once you can do that, you’ve got the beginnings of a great marketing plan. As Simon Sinek teaches in Start With Why, you aren’t selling a “what,” you are selling a “why.”

Lesson 2: Once you have found your niche of people, connect to them by speaking in a way that relates to how they think and feel.

Your audience already exists; it’s your job to find them. These people currently have the values, needs, and desires that you are looking to attract to your offering. But how do you discover the people who already want what you’re offering but don’t know it because you haven’t yet reached them? Creating a tribe is the way to get your people together. Doing this is a simple matter of sharing stories that speak to the way they see the world. 

Fruitful stories that bring your tribe together contain a promise in language that is familiar to those you seek to reach. You help them see that buying your product or paying for the service you provide will fulfill their wants how they like. Make sure your message is one that they can understand. Use words and phrases that help your people believe what you are offering. Appeal to the sometimes hidden assumptions that your audience uses to form their world view.

An example of a good story that went wrong is JCPenny. The narrative their audience wanted and that the company told was that getting a deal when shopping is important. Giving coupons, putting on sales, and offering discounts were JCPenny’s way of appealing to that desire for a bargain. Unfortunately, as the new CEO in 2011, Ron Johnson removed these symbols of bargain shopping because they were inconsistent with what he thought was a high-end store. This misalignment of values cost the department store an over 50% drop in sales.

Lesson 3: Reaching the general public is about utilizing your initial fan base and their networks.

As your company grows and your marketing needs shift to reaching a wider audience, you’ll want to reach more people than just your tribe. Getting more people on board may be as simple as taking advantage of the network effect.

While your tribe may like that your service goes against the grain, the general public stays away because of this. To build the bridge between both worlds, take advantage of the networks that your community already has. 

When you get your audience so well connected with your story and product, they will want to convert their connections to get on board as well.

With more people using your product, you get more feedback and money to make it even better. The cycle continues, and your company gets better and better. Eventually, people won’t want to miss out on your new offering because everyone they know uses and loves it.

This Is Marketing Review

This Is Marketing is one that I look forward to coming back to read more of. As mentioned, the ideas in this book seem very similar to Start With Why, but Godin has his own spin on it that keeps things interesting. I like the idea of targeting needs to solve marketing problems, it seems like the natural way to go in a world that is constantly bombarded with many different ads, each with its own unique story and audience. 

Who would I recommend the This Is Marketing summary to?

The 42-year-old VP of marketing at a tech company who feels stuck, the 25-year-old college graduate who is considering starting their own business, and anyone who still thinks that running commercials on TV to advertise works.

Last Updated on August 20, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.