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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

REVIEW: Meatball Sundae

Seth Godin has made a name for himself in marketing circles because he writes short books. He admits it in the intro-- those sell better, so breezy reads like The Dip have made the rounds. It helps that he's long on ideas and short on bloated, crummy prose. Would that his peers could all write as well as him, instead of cranking out filler just to make the spine more visible on the rack.

Anyway, his new book made the librarian raise her not inconsiderable eyebrow. "Meatball Sundae? What's THAT?" I immediately knew not to try the Singles Bar Test on this one.

And what is it? Well, a meatball sundae is flat-out disgusting, the kind of thing you make your beloved when the expiration date's long gone, if they can't take a hint. Not because of the meatballs-- meatballs are great! So's whipped cream & the cherry on top. Together, though...

In the business world, it's when all the newfangled Web 2.0 viral XML marketbot stuff gets applied to, oh, toothpaste. Or buckets. Inverted, it's like a Happy Meal tie-in for Cloverfield. Oops! Horrified screaming kids, smashed Mickey D's.

So Godin puts forth the novel idea: all this Inter-Web gobbedlygook works, but only when the user adapts to it. Huh? In other words, if the Web demands you communicate with your customers fast & honestly, it's a hard fit for a huge Megacorp. Unless the Megacorp changes how it does business!

Godin shows this through his well-integrated case studies. Constantly dipping into real-world stories with Kiva & Recording the Beatles, as well as Amazon & Wal-Mart, he outlines fourteen trends he sees as central to the huge shift underway. The shift, of course, is the change from a huge monomedia model (TV, radio) to a diversity of outlets thanks to the Internet.

The trends, many will have already heard of, like outsourcing (#6), direct consumer-to-consumer communication and commerce (#9), and the Long Tail (#5). It does, however, have as much food for an entrepreneur's thought as for the executive. I have certainly rethought many of my approaches to CATpitalism reading it.

Best things I can say about this book: he can write! And he has things to say.



Also, as another bald guy, I appreciate that Godin has branded himself using his own bald head. It's shapely, and full of Godin goodness.

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