Our KDM team recently had the pleasure of hearing Seth Godin give a talk at the Digital Summit Conference in New York. It was an honest talk that largely followed a Q&A format. In a room filled with digital marketing professionals, I appreciated his direct approach and the assumption that most of the audience was operating with a similar set of capabilities. This is something I’ve noticed that Godin does particularly well. He knows his audience. He’s spent countless hours thinking about and curating to that audience; therefore he speaks to that audience, no matter how small, exclusively.
Godin had 2 rules for his Q&A format:
1. Questions shouldn’t be self-serving.
2. Questions should be generalized enough to help the whole.
There was no ‘set talk’, but I liked the notion of this framework. Professionals who speak even semi-regularly should take note. Even in the vast and unpredictable forum of an open Q&A, a loose and specific framework lends itself to optimal productivity.
One of the biggest themes of Godin’s talk was the notion around specificity and how we live in an era where intense, magnified and meaningful specialization should be the goal for companies and their respective output, and that unremarkable generality will be just that- unremarkable. We’re in a time where access to information is everywhere; therefore, we have the luxury and the burden of being niche.
Think about it this way, Godin is one of the best-known marketing authors. He publishes a daily blog and more recently began a podcast, Seth Godin’s Startup School. He’s published on-brand content consistently for years. He recently published his 7,000th blog! Time Magazine named it in the Top 25 Best Blogs. Godin has over a million subscribers; followers who are mostly in marketing, SAAS or business leadership. Yet even as popular as he is, even after publishing 18 books; he’s only tapping into a small fraction of market share. Shockingly, IT IS ENOUGH! He’s thriving. He’s tackled a hyper-specific audience and speaks exclusively to that audience.
He encourages marketers to ask, who do I seek to change? And, what change am I seeking to make? The key is to focus on the foundational specifics. Value outcomes over outputs. Make sure the intended outcome is aligned with your audience and your purpose. It seems easy, but it’s extremely difficult. On a weekly basis, we coach our clients through this exact concept- helping them to identify who they are and who they are not. Don’t be afraid to say what you will and won’t do. Limitation elicits fear, but limits promote mastery.
People respond to boundaries. Logically, we know this; however, every week clients emotionally push back and say, “But we do “X, Y, AND Z!” We need to make sure that the people know we won’t turn “Z” away!” Typically from an operations perspective, we’re not suggesting you stop; but from a marketing perspective, we’re suggesting you focus on what is meaningfully specific about you, your company or your output. Mastery is essential, and remember if you start too small, you can always expand.