“What’s a meatball sundae?” Good question. Basically, it’s what happens when everyday products are out of sync with new marketing tactics. For the full story, listen to the podcast (or download it for free!) below. But first, here are a few extra scoops from Seth & Bryan’s interview. Bon appetit!
Bryan Eisenberg: In the introduction, you admit that you’re breaking your own rules about book publishing. First of all, your last book, The Dip, only came out six months ago. Secondly, Meatball Sundae is, what, two or three times the size of The Dip? We see why Meatball Sundae is, well, meatier – but why does it have to come out now, while your last bestseller’s still busy marketing itself?
Seth Godin: The ideas don’t work for me… I work for the ideas. When the book was ready, it had to go out, because the market wanted/needed to hear them. So far, every time I make a silly non-strategic decision that benefits the ideas, it seems to work out okay. So I’ve learned not to get in the way of the ideas.
BE: People are very good at saying “I agree,” and you’re an easy guy to agree with. But what are the really tough questions – outside of the 14 trends you mention in the book – that marketers need to ask themselves so they know whether they’re marketing meatball products with sundae tactics.
SG: I’m not asking for agreement with this book. Not at all. From the title on in, I’m asking for a lot more than agreement. I want action. I want organizations to make fundamental choices and to follow through with them. So, “I agree” will really bum me out.
BE: What are some of the changes organizations will have to make? What are the stumbling blocks, and how will they know if they’re headed in the right direction?
SG: The biggest change is to decide to realign to get the wind at your back. To reorganize and re-strategize to get out of the last industrial revolution and move into the new one. That’s not easy, but you’ll either do it or struggle. Now’s the time, not five years from now.
BE: When you’re talking about the lure of running Super Bowl ads and the like, you say, “The web is astonishingly bad at reaching the unreachable . . . Mass is still seductive, but mass is so expensive that marketers balk at buying it,” and the example you use is that Time magazine is much thinner these days than Gourmet. How do we stop marketers from worrying about driving all this traffic — from reaching out to anyone and everyone — and get them to focus on creating a great experience for the ones who actually want to reach them?
SG: Who is so much more important than how many. And interactivity proves it. You can measure it. You can see what happens, not in months, but in days. Smart marketers are already smelling it, which is one reason they’re running away from magazines so fast.
BE: Trend #2 in Meatball Sundae is “Amplification of the Voice of the Consumer and Independent Authorities.” This made me think of the November 2005 cover of Forbes magazine (“Attack of the Blogs: They destroy brands and wreck lives. Is there any way to fight back?”). Back then, the idea seemed pretty over-the-top. What would you tell marketers today?
SG: Fighting back is such a bad idea. Join is a much better one. Make great stuff, be respectful, tell the truth. Not so hard to describe, pretty hard to do.
BE: How do you know when your organization is ready to serve a sundae? And once you do, how do you match the toppings to suit your customers’ needs? For instance, it seems pretty clear that not every business should be blogging. Is it possible to serve meatballs to some people and sundaes to others, or is it truly either/or?
SG: Oh, I think organizations can do both, just as GE was able to sell blenders and nuclear power plants for a while. The mistake is when one division or one brand tries to do both. When you’ve got need-based, factory-driven commodities colliding with the idea-driven, speed focused web, it’s a big problem.
BE: You talk about the shift from “How many?” to “Who?” (“Just as a store in a busy mall doesn’t have to worry about converting every browser into a customer, high-traffic Web sites and advertisers get sloppy about being efficient.”) As marketing optimization experts, our firm sees this all the time and we still don’t understand why anyone would want tons of traffic with few conversions. But how does a business know when its marketing is inefficient? Are there any telltale signs across industries?
SG: I would never try to tell the guys at Ford about crankshafts. I also won’t tell them about web conversions. They need to learn it, evolve it, test it, measure it. If this is the core of the business of the future (and it is) then a rule of thumb isn’t going to cut it. My point: get in early, spend the money, do the learning.
BE: How do you like your sundaes? (Inquiring minds want to know.)
SG: I’m such a weird eater. It would be Ciao Bella chocolate sorbet, with a teaspoon of Steve Herrell’s hot fudge, a tablespoon of Marshmallow Fluff and a Starbucks Biscotti, chocolate, please. Except that if I was making it, I’d leave off the hot fudge, cause I’m an ascetic.
For the rest of this exclusive interview, click here (or right-click to download).
Click here for Seth Godin and Bryan Eisenberg