Write a book. Call it a manifesto. Give people a choice between Wonder Bread and funkiness. And then, when you get to the end, tell your readers that you’ve both wasted your time if you think you’ve got it figured out.
Seth Godin is a brilliant marketer.
We Are All Weird posits the end of mass–production, politics, retailing, education. Those still focused on mass are missing the point, says Godin:
“[The mass marketer] is busy looking for giant clumps instead of organizing to service and work with smaller tribes.”
And later he says:
“It is true that we want to be a part of a tribe. What’s not true is that it must be some uber tribe, the one and only mass tribe, the center of the curve. Our own little circle is in fact what we really want.”
While I might not use the word “weird” to describe myself (I prefer “independent”), what I like about We Are All Weird is that Godin taps into the fact that people want to be free to express themselves. Maybe it’s your choice of jeans, or cars, or hotels, or coffee. Choice means we get to choose.
Changing means of production, of distribution, and of marketing, meanwhile, mean that you can have a smaller, more spread-out market for your product but still have a market.
Godin’s tribe is filled with marketers, but that doesn’t mean his book shouldn’t also resonate with entrepreneurs and other business owners. Because at the end of the day it’s really about understanding who your core audience (tribe) is. If you’re still trying to be everything to everyone, you’re probably going to lose your market to people with better product or service differentiation.
It’s not about niches. Maybe.
At the conclusion of his book, Godin writes:
“If you’ve made it to the end of this manifesto and come to the conclusion that you need to spend more time going after niche markets, I fear we have both failed.”
It’s not about niches if you think of a niche as a broad market segment. As in the Hispanic market, the gay market, or the veterans market. Because that’s just another way of mass marketing, albeit to a slightly more sliced-and-diced demographic.
But, let’s face it, tribes are niches–just organized and defined by the people themselves rather than imposed from “outside.” And that’s a difference well-worth both understanding and embracing.
We Are All Weird is a quick read, and it’s a good reminder that good marketing doesn’t have to be mass, boring, or normal.
Are you marketing to the weird?
Special thanks to Christina Pappas, who sent me her copy of We Are All Weird after I got intrigued by her book review.
Photo by peregrine blue (Flickr).