Sunday, February 2, 2020

Off the Shelf:
This is Marketing

"You can't be seen until you learn to see." That's the subtitle of marketing guru Seth Godin's latest book, but it's also a message worth considering, especially for those of us wondering just what it is that keeps our genealogical societies from growing. As the world around us changes, what is it, indeed, that would entice someone new to join the ranks of a genealogical society?

Author Seth Godin, known for his unmistakable flair for attention grabbing with book titles like Purple Cow and Meatball Sundae, has shifted the proverbial cart and horse, putting something far more valuable before the marketer's coveted eyeball count. It is only through learning how to see through others' eyes that we earn the privilege of being noticed.

We need to stop seeing like the seller and begin grasping the need from the viewpoint of the buyer. As Seth observed, not many people enjoy the feeling of being sold, but there are a lot of people out there who can enjoy the sport of buying. To take it one step beyond the simple psychology of shopping, "People don't want what you make; they want what it will do for them."

If you are simply yearning for the chance to promote yourself, your message won't get very far. The message, according to Godin, needs to be your story. More than that,
it has to resonate with the listener, to tell them something they've been waiting to hear, something they're open to believing. It has to invite them on a journey where a change might happen.

Your story, in the end, needs to deliver on a promise. A promise you've made to the people you've invited into the world of your story.

If concepts like "story" and "promise" and—as we discussed yesterday—culture and connections seem to be a reasonable mix with what you're attempting to accomplish in your genealogical society, then that is the lens through which you'll find This is Marketing most helpful as you grow your organization. Godin lays out a simple primer for marketing—"in five steps"—and re-orients our thinking about not only how to get the word out about our group, but how to discover what would make our group indispensable to others.

Not just to many others, though. As Seth Godin puts it, we need to seek the "smallest viable market" to influence—big enough to make a difference, but small enough for our audience to feel the impact. Small enough to feel the impact in a way that inspires them to spread the word because what we do has added enough value to their life that they just have to share their story about it.

Of course, I can't distill this book down into one simple post here in a way which would present you with its full impact. As small as the book is—not much bigger in size than a paperback, and not much longer than two hundred fifty pages—it is full of brief vignettes that pack enough of a thought wallop to get you contemplating its application for days to come. I know it's bearing fruit on my focus on growing our own local society. This is one of those books which gets a person thinking and re-thinking and meditating upon what can be possible with the slightest shift of perspective. The leverage those thoughts yield seem capable of doing some heavy lifting in organizational change.

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