I Will Not Be Seth Godin

The time has come. The manuscript of my most recent book — You’re It! The Meta-leadership Imperative: Lessons from Crisis Leaders — has been submitted. Now comes the question of building “the platform.” My fellow authors will recognize the significance of this. For the rest of you, publishers now look to their authors to be major marketing engines.

It is time to build the platform.

And this is where Seth comes in. Godin is a whiz, an icon, a whirlwind of ideas about the new rules of marketing. The sub-head of his book, Permission Marketing, sums up the purpose of the platform: “turning strangers into friends and friends into customers.” The objective of the platform is to get everyone you know to buy a copy of your book. Preferably two or three.

The publisher wants to know how many Twitter followers I have (about 1200, not terrible, across several Twitter ids — groan). Seth’s blog has more than 200,000 followers — yet he follows no one. How many hit does my blog gets each day (not many –YET!)? How many Facebook friends do I have (321)? How well connected I am to my alumni club I am (I sent them a check — three years ago)?

The unstated question, or admonition if one if a Godiniac, is whether I am ready to reach out repeatedly to everyone I come into contact and find a way to turn them into a customer for the book. Keep a box of them in the trunk of the car. Have the cover printed on the linings of my suit jackets. Tweet relentlessly. Promotional Facebook updates and more updates. Get active in LinkedIn groups. Carry a book and strike up random conversations in hotel bars. Hound those who program speakers for conferences (which is how I first met Seth — I never booked him but he was persistent in attempts to persuade me). Every decision right down to what to have for dinner must turn on the impact it will have on the platform and book sales.

I am no stranger to social media though mine is a fragmented existence. Facebook is where I engage with actual friends and acquaintances I consider close enough to meet for a glass of wine. LinkedIn is where I connect with the rest and the groups are full of people promoting their books and consulting. I try to only tweet that which I think the audience will find interesting. I am much more interested in finding out about the people I meet in hotel bars than droning on about myself. I love speaking to groups but am much more comfortable honing my content than pitching my services.

These, of course, are the wrong answers. If this book is to succeed all effort must be focused on building the platform. Activity is constant. Video packages are created. Value propositions are crafted. Messaging is unified. “Nice day,” she says. “Yes,” I reply. “In my book we discuss how meta-leaders use nice days to create unity of effort.”

Godin not only preaches this, he practices it. He embodies this new creature, the content creator and marketing machine. He has turned his bald pate into a highly recognized logo of sorts.

As a reformed marketer, I grasp the logic of it all. As a human, I’d much rather turn my customers into friends than my friends into customers.

So give me the hammer. The platform will be built. I will draw on Seth’s wisdom though I will try to stop short of being obnoxious. I will look for ways to market by being grateful for the time and attention given to me by people. I will try hard to sell books though I don’t want to ever reduce people to the single dimension of “customer.” And I will not shave my head.

And Seth would want me to direct your attention to the share tools to your left. Please use them to spread the word. And please follow on Twitter: @richerearth, @cambmetaleader, @rosemontinst

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  • Great post Eric. It can be tough to try and balance things here – you want to be an effective marketer and see your projects do well, but want to keep a soul as well. I like your point that the two are not mutually exclusive. Some would define success as selling the most books, making the most money, etc and indeed many marketers focus solely on that. I prefer the approach you are eluding to here. You can be successful by connecting with your customers and promoting your project on your terms.

  • affinitymc

    Eric, you’ve read my mind! I think you should draw some inspiration and guidance from your recent S+B article on The Source of Organizational Dysfunction, Revealed! and focus your marketing on Purpose, Values and Performance. You have really important messages to share with the world. Your strong belief in those messages and persistence in getting them out there through various “platforms” will attract followers, community and yes “customers”! Please don’t hold back!

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