Seth Godin is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, lecturer, pundit, and high-profile blogger. His books include Purple Cow, Meatball Sundae, Permission Marketing, and his latest book, Tribes. Godin co-founded Yoyodyne, one of the first Internet-based direct marketing firms. in 1995. He is also founder of Squidoo.com. Godin spoke with NY REPORT about his newest book and success.
NY Report: What is the concept behind Tribes?
Seth Godin: The old way of doing things - yelling about products – doesn’t work anymore and it hasn’t worked for awhile. Instead, you should create opportunities to connect and lead groups of people who want to be associated with each other. For example, I walk into a restaurant and I see people like me, people I know, people I respect, or people I want to be like, and I’m glad I went to that restaurant. Over time, that restaurant can become the center of our circle or tribe. That’s totally distinct from the McDonald’s method of “let’s sell everything to everyone.”
Tribes have insiders and outsiders, and one of the things that a small business person can do to grow is to make it appealing to be an insider within your tribe. People will go to your tradeshow or hire your insurance company if they believe that their lives get better because they’re inside your tribe. This has been going on for thousands of years. Human beings need to be in tribes – we evolved to do it. The difference now is that as we see the economy changing and cultural shifts happening, it becomes even more important for people to find each other. As people have less money to spend on things that they think will give them pleasure, they’re going to spend more of their time on selecting people that they want to be with.
NY Report: How can you compel clients to want to be members of your business’s tribe?
SG: People join tribes because of themselves, not because of you. In other words, you don’t do anything to make people care about you. What you do is find stories and activities that mean something to them, to who they are and who they connect to.
NY Report: Have the rules of “permission marketing” changed?
SG: The biggest update is that it’s not cutting edge anymore. It’s the normal way of doing business. Delivering anticipated personal and relevant messages to people who want to receive them is the essence of where [your] growth is going to come from. There are many business people who work really hard, so they think they have a moral right to interrupt people, to spam people, or send them email; but they don’t. Consumers have more power than ever before in this economy, and they will tell you to go away. It’s much easier and more valuable to empower people who already believe [in a product or service] than it is to argue with the non-believers.
NY Report: Since this issue is the annual Success Guide, can you tell us why you are successful?
SG: As an entrepreneur and as a small business person, there is some level of loneliness and disconnect because you’re trying things but you don’t know what to do next. You believe you’re on the right path, but you need the confidence to pursue it. I’m successful to the extent that I am because I’m able to say - with a fair amount of bravery – the words that resonate with people and allow them to run with their ideas. Once they do, they realize [their ideas] would have worked all along, but I happened to be the lucky one who told them what they already knew.
Daria Meoli is the Executive Editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at email@example.com