Some of us may have had doubts about hearing a keynote address by someone who wrote a marketing book titled Meatball Sundae. What does this have to do with librarians? But, any reservations changed quickly to anticipation when I checked him out before the event. Seth Godin is a best selling author, entrepreneur, and agent of change. His last 6 books have been best sellers around the globe and have been translated into 15 languages. And he has a very powerful message for librarians.
He said, “It’s hard for me to find smart audiences. I wanted to talk to this group because you get it—you understand opportunities. Every person in this room is a marketer. Librarians spread ideas—truth is meaningless if it doesn’t spread—we need to figure out how to do that.”
According to Godin, marketing can change what librarians do all day and the issues we wrestle with. The era of mass marketing led to average stuff for average people—large numbers of people want to buy. But there’s clutter. Clutter on the store shelves—and clutter from the information providers—more books, journals, etc. We deal with clutter with more clutter. We’re in a real industrial revolution.
Bring this message to your organization, he said—yelling and hoping to make enough money doesn’t work. People won’t be forced. When people know the story we want them to know, we’ve done a good job. He said, “Either keep pushing against the wind or change what you’re doing and have the wind at your back.” Tell a story.
He highlighted a number of interesting trends—and we need to pay attention to these.
• Direct communication – the internet lets us do this
• Amplification of individual consumers – consumers can put up comment or videos or complaints. It can be really bad news or good news.
• Authentic stories – we need to have stories to spread and sell
• The Long Tail – it’s an era of unlimited shelf space … people will get what they want because they can
• The dicing of everything – this gives users information out of context.
• Infinite channels for communication
• Consumer to consumer – we can connect directly to each other
• Who vs. how many – what we should care about is who
• It’s not about controlling eyeballs anymore, it’s about leading…and people will choose to follow you
• Scarcity vs. ubiquity – you can’t make a living selling something that’s ubiquitous
Here are some questions to ask our CEOs. Are we in the business of finding customers for our products or are we ready to find products for our customers? Is it success before commitment? No, it’s commitment before success.
Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, ITI