This is Marketing by Seth Godin is actually the third Seth Godin book we’ve reviewed in our Book Club – (We’ve also read Tribes and All Marketers Tell Lies.)

Paula Williams, John Williams and Michael Duke discuss what we liked, what was useful, and why the Audible version is a thousand times better.

Paula: Welcome to this week’s book club. Today, we are talking about This is Marketing by Seth Godin. This is actually our third book, in our book club over many years with Seth Godin. I’m excited to get started. So I’m Paula Willaims with a ABCI. We help Aviation Company sell more of their products and services.

John: I’m John Williams. I work for her. I do cybertech STPA source cup.

Michael: I’m Michael Duke. I’m the founder of DBT Arrow. And our focus is to make ultra efficient aircraft that are 100% sustainable for the future and making regional air mobility of people and cargo possible.

Paula: Fantastic. And we’re really happy to have you and it’s great to have somebody who’s in a entrepreneurial mode and in start-up mode, I think reading this book because I think that’s this kind of perfect, right? And for where we are. And to be honest, you know, kind of first impressions of this book, I like tribes better. I’m a big Seth Godin fan. I really enjoy his writing. And again, it’s one of those things that we were talking about earlier. Sometimes the right book hits you at the right time, sometime it’s the right book at the wrong time and so on. For me, this book was not as innovative and it was not as revolutionary or didn’t have as many actionable items that applied to me and to the clients that I’m directly working with as tribes did which I think was probably his best book. An if either of you have any, any thoughts about that?

John: I subscribe to most of what he said. I mean, you know, because it works.

Paula: Yeah.

John: But there’s one sticking point that I disagree with him. Dammit buddy.

Paula: Okay.

John: Yes. And with my marketing prof from business school as well. And that is it. You don’t buy anything or you doing acquire anything unless it’s been work. And I have a personal experience to prove that my marketing prof and business school. She said it was marketed and I said, “No, actually, it wasn’t.” And that is when I was a kid. Well, I was really sick as a kid. So I didn’t have a lot of energy that time. So I had a bicycle and it was quite hilly at Montana where we lived. And I didn’t like the bike because I can go downhill fine, but I’d always have to walk the back up because it wouldn’t stop. So I wanted the power of the bike was something. And my dad gave me a motor and I still scratch my head. And then I saw somebody who had a bicycle with a motor on it. I said “Wow. I can make one of those.” Then we knew is no brand name on it, there was no name on it, no logo, no nothing. I was just roughly military green. Look like somebody really piece something together. And I found out many many years later that was the first Harley, right? Well. Is that why I bought a Harley Davidson? No, not really. I rode Japanese bikes for years and then and I refuse to ride a Harley because they wouldn’t let me ride one to test-drive it. They just didn’t do that for all the way up until late 80s or early 90s when they allowed test drives. And then once I did that, I decided I wanted one. That to me was where the marketing happened and maybe before that. But certainly not the first bike I saw because I didn’t even know those are.

Michael: See, I’ll take a spin off of that. I know we’re getting a little away from septic and I will come undone. In fact, let me comment first on Seth Godin book then I’ll get back to your comment, John. I did not make it through the book because of other priorities and because it really didn’t connect with me the way some of his other books have. To me, it also felt bit of a rehash. I find Seth Godin very quirky but very insightful. I find some of his some of his works difficult to follow because he’s got a quirky way of sharing his insights from my perspective. It’s just right like the normal person. I know you’re very eccentric but don’t write like you’re eccentric.

Paula: [laugh]

Michael: Variation personality in the book and the personality doesn’t jive with me very well. So it’s just kind of like just give me the concepts and share them. Anyways, I didn’t find that there was a lot that was really new and insightful. A lot of it seemed like a rehash, it was really good material. What I read. But it wasn’t connecting with where I was at the time and I really needed to be working on something else than kind of getting through. You know, his verbiage, it reminded me a lot of Rod Machado’s books. Rod Machado actually came to my FBO in California and donated some books, which we appreciated and we raffle them off to some of the people there for a seminar we had. I’ve been to some of his talk. He’s wonderful and person, he’s a super funny guy, he’s a wonderful man, super committed to aviation, philanthropist, very helpful to people getting them excited in aviation, and I absolutely hate reading his books. So tired of the jokes in the books when you know they’re perfect in person, but they just don’t work for me, in the book.

Paula: Right.

Michael: Seth Godin is a lot the same way for me. I love his insights. I wish he would share less of his personality in the book and focus just more on the insights. I read the books not for entertainment. I read books to acquire knowledge. Trying to mix the entertainment with the knowledge doesn’t work for me. I spend too much time. I mean, Rob Machado books. I like I cross out all of the the jokes. So the next time I come through, I can just get to the summation.

Paula: Right.

Michael: So I thought the book, the parts that I read, you know, they were good review, good insights, had some good points but it didn’t have the value proposition I needed that time. Coming with John was saying about the Harley, is everything marketed? Or is it not before it was purchased? I would say two things around what you share. One is, from my perspective, life is about generalities and nuances. And so you have the generalities around most things and I would agree in general. If it’s not marketed nobody’s going to buy it.

John: In general, I concur.

Michael: In generality, that’s basically true. The nuanced piece of it is that whereas the, you know, as they say, the devil is in the details, the truth is, how is it marketed? You know? Was it marketed because you saw something and you had a need so you just went out and did it? Is that really marketing? Perhaps. But you know, at the end of the day, most things are generalities. And so we kind of have to live within that because we live in a bell curve and that’s where the money’s at. Underneath the bell curve. At the same time, I don’t ride a Harley and I refuse to ride a Harley because of branding and I think it’s more than just marketing.

Paula: Okay.

Michael: And the branding around a Harley, I don’t want to have anything to do with.

Paula: Okay.

Michael: The different customer they’re going after, they have set out a particular brand, that’s not me. And that’s okay, you know? I mean, I’m not saying their branding is wrong, it’s just, I don’t identify with that brand. And I think a lot of people buy things because of the branding. They talk about, you know, the car you drive says a lot about who you are. You know, in general I think you know back to the generalities. In generalities, that’s true. I happen to have a 1997 Mercedes e420. I’m not a Mercedes-Benz guy, but my dad saved and saved. And when he bought that car, brand-new off the lot in 1997, he was very proud of that car. This was my dad’s car is what is important to me, not the Mercedes brand. So I drive it in a little, it’s a 1997 and it has now 94,000 miles, so it’s very low mileage. And I drive it because of the the personal connection, not because of the branding or because somebody marketed to me, “hey, go buy a Mercedes.” So I think part of it is, there’s a lot of interesting things in life, but we come back to the generalities that branding is critical, marketing is critical, but it’s not always going to be the answer for every single sale or every single situation.
So I think we need to understand. There are there are tails on the bell curve and we’re focusing on the middle of the bell curve, and there’s always going to be those those little tails that don’t apply.

John: You know, I understand plus the outliers. Yeah, I understand. What is in your story is that the same thing happened to me. I drive a 2004 for Mercury Marquis LS. My mom bought it new. When she died, she gave it to me.

Michael: Yeah.

John: It’s got three hundred and seventy-five thousand miles on it and it looks new. It just keeps on going.

Paula: And that car will live forever the way you take care of it. You know?

John: I mean is, is that the car I would buy if I was gonna go buy one now first or not made anymore and second, I don’t know.

Paula: Yeah, that sentimental thing is all about emotion. And that’s exactly what Seth Godin says. I think pieces of all of his books, if you put them together, it would be your marketing to emotions, not to facts. To your point Michael, I tried reading the book and I actually ended up downloading the audible version because it is read by the author. And that made all the difference in the world because having, listening to him speak, is a lot different than reading the words on the page. There are speakers and there are writers. And Seth Godin, I think, I would love to hear him speak in person. And I like his audio books, but I can’t beat him either. You know, I can’t get I can’t slug through his writing either. But an interesting point that you had the same experience,

Michael: And that’s probably the same as Rob Machado. I love listening to him speak. He is a wonderful speaker.

Paula: Yeah.

Michael: But reading through his books, is really difficult for me.

Paula: Understood. One of my favorite stories from the book and I don’t know how, if you got to this point. If you did, you know, let me know. But if you didn’t, it’s still a really great story. He was talking about people, you know, a group of people who were selling reading glasses in India, you know, because in India in some parts of rural India, eyeglasses are unusual. And then most people when they get to a certain age, like me, without some correction and things like that, you really can’t function all that well. And so they show up with their picnic table of eyeglasses. And they had this, fantastic price of three dollars a piece. They had done the study so they knew these people had this disposable income, they had the money, they had the authority, they had the need for these things and they knew all the demographics going in, didn’t sell a darn thing. And you know, they had these laminated eye sheets, you know, the eye test sheet so that you know people could look through the glasses and see which ones would be best and they had little mirrors so they could try them on and things. There’s a little bit of curiosity but, you know, only a very few people were actually buying. They changed their business model to where they were actually handing them to people as they walk by with a little piece of paper saying, you know, keep these for 24 hours either. Turn them back into us or bring us three dollars. And they had about a 90 percent retention rate, you know, from that point because people actually, they put lanyards on them to start with and they weren’t letting people pick the color or anything. They were just, “here, take these and try them.” And these people are jewellers and weaver’s and other types of Artisans and craftspeople. So they would actually go try these. They’d also see other people in the marketplace with these things on lanyards, and it became a totally different sales scenario. And it’s because these westerners go into this, this scenario with, we need to give them choices, we need to test the product, we need to give them all the facts and figures. They don’t need it all that or they don’t want all that. And for the most part, the marketing works a thousand times better when you just appeal to their emotions, let them insert it into their life. And the culture in this particular town was such that they didn’t have to worry about people running off with them because that just wasn’t what people do in this in that part of the world. And if they had known the culture and started this on the first day instead of being told by a native, you know, this is what you really should do. Start from the perspective of the customer and appeal, appeal to their emotions. So I think that was probably the best example from the book. Am I, you know, selling these the way I want to be sold or am I stepping into the shoes of the customer for real? And am I even qualified to step into the shoes of the customer for real? Because I’m, you know what I assume they want is not necessarily what they want.

Michael: Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve read some similar things that once you get past three choices, likelihood of making a sale goes down with the choices that you provide. Provide 10 choices, the likelihood of closing is very, very small. If you only provide one choice, you know, often people want to know what the other choice is or up to three total, you get past three choices and people just, they can’t make a decision. It’s hard. And I’ve found that with my mother as she’s gotten older, she was never really good at choices. She’s like, I don’t know, whatever you want but as she’s gotten older, you don’t give her choices or you or it’s like with a child, you know. Do you want A or do you want B? Put on the red shirt or the blue shirt? It’s not, you know, I want to go to school. Sorry, that’s not an option. Better red or blue you are going to school. That’s that’s where we’re at.

Paula: Yeah

Michael: So part of it is, I think giving people the right choices and the other piece of that story that I thought was interesting was it applies to what happens a lot with software. It’s really a it’s kind of like a freemium model. You have to try it in order to get people to buy it. The difference is, it’s not an upgrade. It’s simply, you know, here you need to try this because unless you’ve actually experienced it, these are people who’ve never experienced seeing clearly.

Paula: Yeah. They have no idea that they can’t see. I went like that when I was a child until I went to the eye doctor, the first time I thought everybody else saw what I saw and they didn’t, you know, I was blind as a bat. So who knew?

Michael: Part of it is, you know, exposing the reality. And if they’ve never had that reality, and other people don’t wear glasses. I mean, on the flipside, look at braces for teenagers. You don’t have braces and you are a 12, 13, 14 year-old a tween. You’re upset, you know. I need braces. “Mom, Dad. I have to have braces.”

Paula: Yeah.

Michael: “Why?” Well, because all my friends do.

Paula: Your teeth are perfect.

Michael: There’s something going to that buying decision. I mean, here are the people in India, they probably aren’t used to seeing anybody with glasses. They don’t know that they need glasses. Three, it’s not a value proposition to them even at a very reasonable price and so until they’ve actually experienced that, “yeah, I have a need” and now that I have one, if you ever, you know, it’s like, I’m in a new rental car or you buy a car and suddenly you see, everybody else has the same car. You haven’t notice those cars before. So now we’re are noticing. Hey, other people have glasses to. I’ve never really noticed how many people are wearing glasses. Wow. And yeah, I need glasses. So suddenly I can see the value proposition now. Never happened before. And by the way, I don’t have a thousand different choices so it makes it easy for me to pick. So I think there’s a lot of pieces in that story that work. That they, they missed. It’s easy to analyze on the, you know, on the other side it was hard. I probably would have done the same thing going in. But [crosstalk] starting to analyze like, oh yeah, that makes sense nobody bought.

Paula: Right? Exactly. And you know when you back up from that and if you have a product like yours, Michael that you know, maybe you can’t give everybody a ride, you know, you can’t help people experience your product the next [inaudible] a step back from that and this goes back to all to all marketers tell stories which is another Seth Godin book that I think was better than this one. All marketers tell lies, I think. And when you cross that out and said Oh marketers, tell stories. That’s your method of putting people into the position of using this product for themselves is you tell them a story. This is what it’s like when you use this product and you put a hero into that story, you make the customer the hero of the story, you tell them what life is like and how it’s different from what they’re doing now because of this this product and, you know, you move forward that way and it’s not about the facts and figures. It’s about the stories. And you know, you got to have the facts and figures once they get past that. But you got to get them to be interested in the facts and figures first. And that’s how you get them. With either a test drive or the puppy dog clothes, send them home with one.

Michael: And I think that’s kind of goes to the thing that John Mellen [?] said to me in January, and that is a need, a need is a want that’s experienced but once. I tasted that thing that you never knew was available, suddenly, you have to have it, never had, you know, you’ve never experienced private air and you suddenly get an opportunity to do it once. Its just like, wow, I never want to go back to flying commercial.

Paula: I’m never getting on an airliner again. Exactly.

Michael: I never had that chocolate before. Oh my goodness, you know, we have to have, we have to have chocolate. [inaudible] through out ages and there’s something new, and that new thing becomes an obsession because they didn’t know it existed before. And suddenly now it’s a need one before it was simply, it was always there. But now you’ve experienced it, you’ve got to have it.

Paula: Exactly.

John: I find it interesting. What you said about many choices and how that all works with sales and so on. Of course, I know I’m different, but I like more choices and the more there are the better. But the why you said I have read many articles and stories about people from and talk to people who have come from Moscow, example. And get here and they say there’s too many choices. If there’s too many me choices, How can that be? I just couldn’t. I couldn’t put that together. But like I have this one gentleman who I went to school in Moscow. He didn’t know Russian women over there, he learned Russian and graduated from the Moscow University, right? Well, they give food you go stand in line and you took whatever was there.

Paula: Yeah.

John: And this is personal experience and he said it’s too many choices over here. There’s no too many choices, there should be more

Paula: And that comes down to This is Marketing. If there are no choices, there is no need for marketing, right?

John: Yeah, exactly. But I just found your comments interest. I had never considered that. I had heard it from other people before but how you applied it and what he applied it, makes me think about it…

Michael: Differently. And, you know, and again, I think part of this culturally-based. If you’re not used to, if you’ve never had it, you suddenly want it. Well, once you’ve had chocolate, then the question is, will do you want milk chocolate, you want dark chocolate, do you want semi-sweet chocolate, you want the raw cacao nibs? And then, suddenly, there’s this varieties. Like, I have no idea. I mean, there’s too many choices, but once you’ve experienced all of them, then you can say, oh well, I really like this one for this situation, I like this one for this situation. So I think part of it too, is this education process, I was going to say refinement, but I don’t think that’s appropriate because it’s simply exposure. Once you’re exposed to more choices, then you have the knowledge to be able to make an assessment and make the choices. But if you never been exposed to them, you’re overwhelmed. And so, I think it’s really the person from Moscow who’s never had any choices, they take what they get, and they’re happy with it. And that’s great! [crosstalk] I’ve got. But if they, you know, if they’re introduced to it slowly. Hey, you know, here’s broccoli, here’s cauliflower, here’s Brussels sprouts, here’s whatever. And you go through the list and then you say, okay, today you have a choice, instead of just giving getting one of these things that you’ve already experienced. Which one would you like? Okay, well, I’ll take this one, but if never experienced any of them, they’re less likely to to make choices. And here’s another thought there’s came to mind. About that decision-making process is people have done studies around. Where do you go to dinner? Do you go to dinner someplace you know? Or you go to dinner someplace, you’ve never been before? And partly it depends on your personality and partly depends on what you’re looking for when I was in Florida last week, I guess it was last week.
We deliberately went to places that we knew were not chains.

Paula: Yeah.

Michael: We wanted to try some local places.

Paula: Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Michael: One of the nights, it was just kind of a crazy day and it’s just like you know what, I don’t want to try anything new. I want to go someplace where I know what the foods like and I, you know, I have something I can stick in my day that says I know what I’m going to get. [inaudible] I’m part of me just said, it doesn’t matter what kind of marketing somebody did, you know? Because we had looked at different reviews and different sites for trying to find different places to go eat. And that day, it was like, I have no interest whatsoever. I just want to go to some place I know, I don’t want new places. I want to be comfortable. And so I can I think, partly, the marketing will help when you’re looking for something new. But at some point. You have to go off your experience and say, I don’t care about all the other stuff, you know, I just, you know, I’m it’s morning and I’m driving on the Florida turnpike, there’s McDonald’s. I know what their breakfast is like, I’m just go pick up some McDonald’s breakfast. It’s not great, but it’s quick, it’s cheap and I know exactly what I’m gonna get.

Paula: Yep

Michael: It meets my needs, you know, I’ll go try this other cool breakfast pancake house or whatever a different day.

Paula: On a Saturday, when you’ve got time to make a bad decision and recover from it, right? Yeah. No. I totally agree. And I think, you know, from the, the marketing perspective, you have to think about, from your customers perspective, how much energy are they going to put into this decision and how can you reduce the amount of energy that they need to spend? So, if you can give them three choices, and then once they’ve made one of those three choices and they want to refine it you can always take them down a rabbit hole of, okay so now that you’re in our gold plan or whatever here are some options or add-ons or whatever. I think you can take them down that path. As long as you don’t ask them to for too much and ask them to spend more energy than they’re willing to put into this decision, right?

Michael: Yeah. And the other thing, you know is you’re talking, John. It kind of, maybe it was, you Paula. I’m out, I’m old, I can’t remember more than two minutes ago.

Paula: No problem.

Michael: How do you, you know, a product like ours. You know, how do you get people to test drive? An only that’s one of the the lessons from the the eyeglass thing is you want people to test-drive it. So they can say oh wow I really do need this.

Paula: Yeah.

Michael: At the same time, you know, what was part of the appeal of the Tesla Model S, its exclusive. The people who are buying it are, you know, I want to be like them, you know, exclusivity and, you know, it’s sustainable it meets my, you know, the person I want to aspire to be or whatever. And so, part of it is, you know, when people fly in our plane, we want other people to see that. Here are the people that are flying, don’t you want to be like them? It’s a form of marketing. Even if the, you know, even if people are just taking pictures of themselves, and maybe that’s one of the things we do is, you know, hey, you know, get a picture of yourself, post it online.

Paula: Yeah.

Michael: [inaudible] or seen. And it’s not our marketing to other people, it’s their own marketing to people. So other people say, wow, that’s really cool. I’m going to be like you.

Paula: Yeah, like that FBO that set up an aircraft, you know, private jet interior so that influencers could come do their thing in an airplane, without them having to have the expense of an airplane.

John: [crosstalk] what got my interest in the Tesla Model S was I was sitting in a parking spot and it was a snowy day. And it was a, my wife [?] right there and I was waiting on her to come out of the store and a guy came out and got in it and as he backed out, I roll my window down. He said I said, “excuse me”, he said “what is it?” How do you like that car? He said, “I will never have any other kind of car.” It’s that good.

Paula: Yeah, well, that customer experiences branding.

John: And I thought, okay, well, thank you and I went to Tesla after that and we started doing research and driving and things. It’s a very good car.

Michael: You know, it’s interesting too though, because we were looking at, my mom was looking at replacing her BMW Model 5 and so we were looking at the Tesla and some other things because they were roomy and large and whatever. And so she was looking at a model X, and one, the big display…

Paula: Yeah.

Michael: [inaudible], it overwhelmed her. She’s like, I can’t deal with that. Turn it off. And yet that’s like a really critical piece of the vehicle.

John: Overwhelming.

Michael: Planning and giving you all the information and that’s how you interact with it and turn features on and off. And she’s like, I can’t deal with that, you know.

Paula: I can either drive or I can mess with a computer but I can’t do both.

Michael: Let me drive.

Paula: Wait.

Michael: The other piece is, the front was very nice, but sitting in the back is kind of like, I’m not going on the back, you know the back of the driver’s seat is like, this is hard plastic.

Paula: It is.

Michael: Where’s the leather?

Paula: Yeah.

Michael: I mean, spending this much money, where is the nice leather? Well, I get it, it’s more durable and all that kind of stuff. But I mean, you know, you get into BMW, Mercedes, I mean, pick some luxury brand and its really nice, all leather. That’s what people are expecting.

Paula: The passenger experience, right.

Michael: Change the passenger experience, you know, and then the third thing for her was, does it have a heated steering wheel? And I’m like, are you kidding me? Why do we need a heated steering wheel? And she’s like, I know.

Paula: What I want. Yeah.

Michael: [inaudible] are cold and I’m not going to drive it in the winter unless it has a heated steering wheel. And I’m like, you got to be kidding me. So, I didn’t realize that was one of the criteria. She had experienced a heated steering wheel as part of that thing. If you’re in Russia and you’ve never had anything and you simply take what you get, you take it.

Paula: Yeah.

Michael: When she’s experienced a heated steering wheel, she’s like, I’m never going back to something else. If I can’t have a heating steering wheel, I’m not even going to look at the car.

Paula: That’s a necessity for her now.

Michael: Okay. Well, suddenly we started cutting out all of these brands.

Paula: Right?

Michael: It was one of the phone calls, okay, we’re calling up, Jaguar, you know. Hey, do you have a heated steering wheel in your car? So you know, that became a criteria for her looking for a new car. So I think part of it comes down to the experience that people had, as a marketer of a particular product. Does that mean you need to come up with all of the different accessories and things that somebody might want? I think the answer is no. You just have to say, here’s the market segment that I can go after and let me…

Paula: Know

Michael: …the segment. You know if it doesn’t have a heated steering wheel, she’s not even going to consider it.

Paula: Right.

Michael: So out the [inaudible]

Paula: Mrs. Duke is not one of our prospective customers and we can live with that. [inaudible]

Michael: Well too much electronics, just let me drive.

Paula: Right. Exactly. Okay, well let’s kind of wrap up the podcast. I think we’re at about 30 minutes or so. But any final thoughts about this one? Recommend it, give it a one to ten.

Michael: I would say if you’re going to pick a Seth Godin book, this would not be in my top three.

Paula: Okay, very good. Yeah, I think the same, I give it a 7 out of 10 and I would give Tribes a 9 out of 10, and Great Marketers Tell Lies would be also a 9 out of 10, The Purple Cow, maybe 10/10, it’s that right up there with the other three but this is just not one of my favorites so, worth reading but, you know, only because it’s Seth Godin and I would get the audible, not the book. Yeah. What do you think, John?

John: Well, I’m with Mike, like it’s big rehash, you know,

Paula: Everything.

John: No, not everything, but most things. Yeah.

Paula: Okay, we’re on the same page. I can’t believe we agree.

John: It happens on occasion.

Paula: It does.