Be Remarkable or Quit, Godin Says

“If you can't make something remarkable, quit,” best-selling author Seth Godin told a room full of marketers yesterday, adding that the once widely accepted marketing mandate of making average products for average people no longer holds true.

Godin, who was the keynote speaker at DMAo05's luncheon general session yesterday, said that in the old days it was good enough for Revlon founder Charles Revson to buys ads on TV in order to drive sales for his brand.

The model of the industry in those days was “spend a nickel interrupting people, make 6 cents, repeat,” Godin said.

Then the number of TV channels multiplied and the Internet came along. These and other factors broke the model, and, as a result, “it is fading and fading fast,” he said. And it won’t get better. The only way for a marketer to expand now is to acknowledge certain truths, he said. One is that clutter abounds, as exemplified by the 19 flavors of Oreo cookies.

Another is that most people don’t care what brand of car they get when they’re renting because most brands of cars, like other consumer goods, are good enough, Godin said.

What these truths translate to for many marketers is that they’re trying to sell products to people who don’t care about them and don’t even know they exist, he continued.

The news isn’t all bad, though. Godin sees a fork in the marketing road, and one path is being taken by brand managers who won’t accept that the old model isn’t working. Then there are those willing to set off on a new direction.

One key in the new model is to make something remarkable, Godin said. He meant that literally, in the sense that it is something worth making a remark about — because once people start talking about your product, you get past the spam.

Godin cited sock brand LittleMissMatched. The Internet and brick-and-mortar retailer started out selling socks for little girls that are intentionally mismatched. They are sold in color-coordinated sets of three and seven. The socks are so popular with little girls that they show their friends which combination they’re wearing.

Another example is Apple, which frequently has 60,000 consumers worldwide watching its product announcements online. Still another is the Web site Am I Hot or Not, where people rate photos uploaded by others. The site,, gets 250,000 unique visitors daily without advertising.

What these companies have discovered is how to market to people who honestly want to hear from them by making something worth talking about. This lets them cut through the clutter and makes the competition disappear, Godin said.

In sum, Godin said, “Don’t be boring.”

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