A “Meatball Sundae” Meet Up

There’s all this new , and even no-longer-so-new, marketing stuff going on: Web 2.0, social networking, viral, user-generated content, blogs, Twitter, digg, search, brands as stories, the long tail, permission marketing.

Clearly, marketing is changing. In fact, it’s changing in 14 different ways, according to Seth Godin, who some refer to as a marketing guru but who may be simply the world’s most beloved marketer (not to mention author, entrepreneur, speaker, the list goes on and on).

The title of Seth’s latest book, “Meatball Sundae,” is a simile for the incongruous, unappetizing mess marketers and organizations concoct when they apply the same old, same old (marketing, products, whatever) to the very real realities of how these 14 fundamental shifts are changing their (and our) world.

Otherwise, you’ve got factories making meatballs while marketing ladles sundaes on top. Organizations wonder how to make all this new marketing stuff work for them, rather than how their products, services, and business model can profitably exist within the framework of new realities.

Because, as Godin puts it, “New Marketing isn’t just about technology, is not just an online phenomenon, and isn’t wacky. Not anymore.”

What Is “New Marketing,” Anyway?

“Business growth comes from…satisfying the people who can best leverage your idea,” posits the book. It should therefore come as no surprise (particularly to readers of this publication) that the 14 new marketing trends he identifies are all closely aligned with the radical — and recent — democratization of media.

Producers and consumers no longer rely on print and broadcast media to communicate and conduct business. They can do so directly. Moreover, consumers are exercising what Godin calls an amplified voice on blogs, sites, online video, and other channels. This form of word of mouth, P2P (define) marketing is not to be taken lightly. It’s “like Russian roulette. You have to assume that every chamber is loaded.”

And there are plenty of chambers, most of them important to marketers. Because, he argues, “ideas delivered through groups of people are far more powerful than ideas delivered at an individual.”

There you have it: the social in social media.

Marketing has splintered from mass media into an infinite number of channels. Each Google search can be viewed as its own marketing channel — those AdWords ads in the margin prove the point. “Mass is no longer achievable…mass is no longer desirable,” says Godin of old marketing paradigms, and he’s rife with anecdotes to prove the point, including case studies of companies such as Replacements Ltd., Etsy.com, and Threadless.com.

This shift in communications is from the many to the who.

“Mass is no longer achievable…mass is no longer desirable,” he posits. Well, perhaps it is. After all, advertisers still pay a premium to show up during the Super Bowl, and arguably AOL achieved early success by getting millions and millions of CDs into consumers’ hands (and disk drives). But, he points out, you probably don’t have enough time or money to get out all the CDs AOL did back in the day. “What almost everyone else who has succeeded in the last decade has done is work the grapevine. They’ve created ideas that are worth spreading and made it easy for people to spread them.”

Easier Said Than Done

Why is reading “Meatball Sundae” worthwhile?

After all, much of what Godin advocates has been said many times before, by many different people and in many different channels (ClickZ being no exception). Much of the wisdom in this book is plain old common sense, for example: “Identify the blogs that actually do have an interest in what I’m trying to have featured…and then…read them.”

Nor is “Meatball Sundae” a magic bullet. It may warn marketers against using the tactics of one marketing paradigm with the strategies of another and may even provide them with the tools to identify which is which. But the book can’t do the hard part: actually apply the strategies to your business and your marketing plan.

Where “Meatball Sundae” excels, and what makes it a must-read, is in the telling. What makes Godin perhaps the world’s best-beloved marketers (not to mention perennial bestselling author) is his uncanny ability to spin concise, authentic, well-told stories that are rife with supporting evidence and relevant anecdotes. The book looks at companies as diverse as Wedgewood, Wal-Mart, Disney, McDonald’s, Blendtec, Sendaball, and Moleskine to drive home its points. He genuinely wants to help you do your job better and is even willing to go as far as helping you help convince your boss you should be allowed to do your job better.

It’s inspiring. You really should read it.

Actually, you should do more than that. You should tune in, too. I’ll be chatting with Godin about his new book next Wednesday, January 23, at 2:00 p.m. EST in a live Webcast. Please register to join us. No catch — it’s free!

Meet Rebecca at SES London February 19-21.

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