Seth Godin, author and Change Agent, was recently named Most Important Marketing Guru by leading marketing executives. A few months ago, I asked if he’d keynote at SEMpdx SearchFest 08. While he wasn’t able to speak at SearchFest, he agreed to participate in a SEMpdx Webinar on January 15th, where he will be giving a free copy of his book to the first 300 registrants. Recently, I was able to get a few minutes of his time for an interview to discuss the release of his 11th book, Meatball Sundae, available in stores on December 27th.


What was the primary inspiration for your book?

I’ve been doing Internet marketing since <gasp> 1991. In sixteen years, I’ve seen a lot change, but one things seems to stay the same… the lame-brain responses of old-line companies and their pathetic attempts to have it all. It’s frustrating the watch and twice as frustrating to be part of. As the industry gets more and more real, I thought it was time to call some of it out.

Who do you think will benefit most from reading this book?

No doubt, it will be the firms, consultants, freelancers and agencies that are they key interfaces between the web and the rest of the world. Followed by entrepreneurs, managers, CEOs, etc. My hope is pretty simple. I want people to confidently say, “that’s a meatball sundae” when it needs to be said! Negativity aside, I also think we’re at the dawn of a new industrial revolution, and I want people to take advantage of it

In the book, you outline 14 trends that have transformed marketing and business. Describe the process you followed to identify and hone those trends.

There are 20 or 30 trends, probably. I picked 14 that stood out, that were leveragable and that were easy to understand. Then I dug into each one, looking for examples.

On page 69 in your book, you talk about permission, one of your hot buttons. I found the statement “I don’t care about you. Not really. I care about me.” Please elaborate on this concept.

Sorry if the pronouns were unclear. Here’s the long version: “none of your prospects care about you. They don’t care about your ads or your products or your job. All they care about is themselves.” That sounds callous, but it’s true.

You also discuss the Zen of Venn; comparing the ratio of “Notice It” do “Do It,” and how that ratio has changed drastically since the advent of Google AdWords. As you know, SEMpdx is an organization of search engine marketing professionals, so I’d like you to offer up a few thoughts on how our SEM readership may be able to leverage this concept with clients & in-house management.

The idea is this: old-school marketing is about reaching everyone. Spend money to get people to “notice it”. Then, if your product appeals to masses and your ads are good, a portion of those people will “do it” and buy what you’re selling. The do it circle was always tinier than the marketer wanted, because the ads were so general and most people were innocent bystanders. Today, Google has hundreds of millions of “channels”. Each channel appeals to a tiny subset of the audience, and among that subset, there’s huge interest in what you’re saying. To be concrete about it: if I do a search on “civil war antiques” and you have ads and products on this topic, the chances I’ll convert go way up compared to say, someone watching American Idol and seeing a Coke commercial.

One of the most intriguing concepts you outline in your book is the New Bell Curve for price & volume. Tell our readers about this.

We all know about the classic bell curve with the mass market stuff in the middle. The new bell curve demonstrates that the ENDS are the important parts. Super cheap at the left, super exclusive at the right. It’s the middle… the average stuff that’s not much better than the cheap stuff (but more expensive) but not as wonderful as the expensive stuff… that’s where failure lies. Think American Airlines. Not as cheap as Southwest, not as luxurious as Jet Airways.

In the book, you mention Bud.TV as a case study, and write a short note to Bob Iger. Any feedback from either Budweiser or Disney? If not, what do you think they will say?

I would be stunned and shocked if I heard from them. To be fair, both organizations have really good people, really smart people. What breaks isn’t the people, it’s the system. Stuck companies end up that way because systems set in and nobody has the leverage to change them.

Having read a handful of your other books, are there any you feel provide a useful foundation for readers?

There’s a bunch of ways into the kind of thinking I’m pitching. My blog is free and has more than 2000 mini articles. My lens ( describes each book. Small is the New Big is a collection from the blog for people who prefer books. Free Prize Inside is a more practical way of thinking about how to get stuff done. But I guess I’d start with either Permission Marketing or Purple Cow.

If there is one idea or concept you’d like your readers to be left with, what would it be?

This is the start of a new industrial revolution, one that will change things as completely as the assembly line did.

What’s next for you, Seth?

Can I take a nap now?

Want more of Seth Godin and Meatball Sundae? Register for his free Webinar, presented by SEMpdx and hosted by Corvent.

4 thoughts on “SEMpdx Exclusive Interview: Seth Godin & His Meatball Sundaes

  1. Sounds like a great book…I’ll be sure to check out your squidoo page as well. 16 years of knowledge has got to be a ridiculous amount…I have been in the game for one year and feel I have learned/grown a lot. Going to read your blog as well, thx.

  2. Was I one of the first 300 to register for the Seth Godin event? Where’s my book? I need to know if I have to go out and buy it or not? Call me a cheap bastard….but then you already knew that….

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