How Small Business Owners Can Use Seth Godin’s Latest Book


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

We’re huge Seth Godin fans. Huge! So we couldn’t wait to be one of the 10,000 peeps to get our hands on his latest, We Are All Weird.

And I have to admit, it wasn’t my favorite Godin read. First, We Are All Weird it’s not a typical Godin book. It wasn’t meaty, thought-provoking or deep. It was more of a single idea packaged as a mini-book. A quick read, for sure, but not earth-shattering or game changing for businesses like his earlier books (The Dip, Purple Cow, Small is the New Big and Tribes).

Here’s a quick synopsis and you can decide if We Are All Weird is worth it for you to read.

Seth defines weird as people who have chosen not to conform to the masses, at least in some part of their lives. Well, to me, that’s really nothing more than what we’ve known up to now as a niche. As small business owners we look for pockets of people with similar interests and commonalities. Then we find a way to speak to them in a way that makes them raise their hand and say “That’s for me. That’s what I need!” It’s what we all should be doing as small business owners. Yet Seth’s definition implies that to be niche doesn’t necessarily mean you’re weird. It’s a moot point to a marketer and a business owner. Weird or not, your client or potential client is still a part of a group that shares similar interests and commonalities whether those interests are quote weird or not. Talk to them like the individuals they are. Solve a problem they have. Then you will have created a loyal client.

Seth talks about the 4 forces for the weird, but here are my favorite two. The first force, that creation is amplified, is very true. It is easier and faster than ever before to publish, sell, customize and design thanks to how connected we are in the world due to the Internet. And the fourth force, tribes are better connected, makes it easier than ever before to connect and find peeps like us. What used to be obscure or ‘weird’ has become less so. But it also means for the small business owner that it’s even tougher to find unique products and to provide something that isn’t already out there. Consumers have the entire world at their fingertips. They don’t have to shop locally. If you choose to own a small business, you have to be willing to push and push and push to find something that your customers can’t get elsewhere or would rather get from you than your competitors.

He makes a good point for all business owners when he says that when an artist is able to have his work amplified, it raises the bar for those that would follow. Years ago artists produced in isolation. Many died without every being recognized for their greatness. That’s no longer a consideration today. Your products and services are easier than ever to copy. I can do a Google search and find out exactly what you are producing and copy it and get pretty darned close if I want to. But when you put more of YOU in your products, services and most importantly the experience you give your customers it becomes much harder to copy. Look for opportunities to put more of you into your small business if YOU is what your clients love.

An idea he discusses that isn’t a new one, but rather deserves repeating is the notion that if you try to be all things to all people, you will fail. The only alternative is to be something important to a few people. You can’t be afraid to alienate a few customers or even certain groups. Because the truth is, they probably would be just fine without you. Instead seek to find the people who won’t be fine without you. Then delight them and hold on tightly to them because they are truly your people.

Seth spells out doom and gloom for mass appeal products, but I just don’t buy it. WIll mass today look like (and gross) what mass did 10 years ago? Absolutely not. But there will still be people who prefer buying vanilla. Who don’t want to stand out. Who don’t want something different and don’t want to be different. The mass may be shrinking, but it’s still a mass and will always be there. Mass doesn’t mean 90% or even 50%. It simply means more than any other.

Seth also says that the mass market is built around the idea that everyone is the same, at least when it comes to marketing. Well I disagree here, too. I don’t think any marketer assumed that everyone was the same, rather they found a large group of people who had similar wants, dreams and needs and found that they could meet those needs with an efficiently priced product. And that hasn’t changed. Sure we have more choices now. And sure the number of people who have similar wants and needs has dwindled a little, too. But the real issue is that the number of media vehicles available to us for entertainment has skyrocketed, thus making the marketers job both easier and harder. You can’t reach everyone in just one place anymore. But you can reach exactly who you want now, even if it takes a little digging. It’s hard for me to swallow Seth’s portrayal that marketers are bad guys. Yet maybe what he is doing here – shirking what he’s known for (being a brilliant marketer) – and claiming that marketers are bad guys to try and reach a mass audience of non-marketers with his platform.

Seth mentions that attaining the mass has been a goal of just about every American business in the last 50 years to create average products for average people sold at a high price in volume. Isn’t the goal of mass production efficiency? If I buy what everyone else has, I know as a consumer that I can buy it for cheaper. Because of economies of scale and because of simple supply and demand, that product isn’t going to be higher priced. In fact, the opposite is true. And for some things I buy that’s ok. The mass appeal product will do just fine. Again another reason why mass products have their place. Why hate on them, Seth ?

Tell us what you think about We Are All Weird. Have you read it? Did I miss the mark? Was it really a game-changer for you? And if you haven’t read it, do you plan to? Are you weird?

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