Archives for posts with tag: Seth Godin


Seth Godin wrote lately a brief post titled: “Horizontal marketing isn’t a new idea.”

“But it is the new reality for just about every organization.

Vertical marketing means the marketer (the one with money) is in charge. Vertical marketing starts at the top and involves running ads, sending out direct mail and pushing hype through the media. Your money, your plans, your control. It might not work, but generally the worst outcome is that you will be ignored and need to spend more money.

Horizonal marketing, on the other hand, means creating a remarkable product and story and setting it up to spread from person to person. It’s out of your control, because all the interactions are by passionate outsiders, not paid agents.

Most marketers instinctively want control. We reach for the budget and the ad and the press release and most of all, the powerful media middleman. We buy SuperBowl ads or shmooze the reporter.

Horizontal marketing, though, requires giving up control. We spend all of our time and money on a great story and a great service and a remarkable offering. The rest is up to the market itself. You can’t control this, and you can no longer ignore it either.”


I do admire Seth Godin but I don’t agree with him. Successful marketers don’t choose between  either horizontal or vertical marketing. Successful marketers deploy a combination of both. The iPad is an amazing product that is the perfect example for horizontal marketing. Trust me, Apple would love to save money on advertising if they didn’t have to. But they do. Horizontal marketing only gets you so far. You need vertical marketing to get further.

The good news for brands is that you need less money to deploy the full power of paid media to get the most benefits out of owned and earned media. The even better news is when you develop the perfect mix of paid, owned and earned media you get the maximum benefits out of vertical and horizontal marketing.


It’s the time of the year where we reflect on the year almost passed and, at the same time, we are in desperate need to find last-minute gifts. Below are a few of my favorite books of the year, insightful readings that shaped my year. (All links are non-affiliate)

Shift & Reset

Brian Reich, SVP/Global Editor for Edelman, is not happy with the state of non-profits and how many brands utilize Social Media to advance their objectives. Brian reveals a deep narrative that gives you a better understanding why the current methods of marketing increasingly fail and how to embrace the new paradigm. What I especially liked about this book that he doesn’t leave it to theory and big words. The book is filled with inspiring and clear action steps for non-profits and commercial brands.

The Flinch (Free)

Need a swift kick in the butt? Get this book now. It will kick you into action.

So, what is “The Flinch”? As author Julien Smith explains: “It’s a reaction that brings up old memories and haunts you with them. It tightens your chest and makes you want to run. It does whatever it must do to prevent you from moving forward. (…) Whatever form it takes, the flinch is there to support the status quo.”

The Flinch is not a marketing book, it’s a personal improvement book. When you read this book, you will learn something about yourself. And, who knows, you might just discover you have more guts and gumption than you ever imagined.

We Are All Weird

Any book list without mentioning Seth Godin’s work is not a complete list. Part of the Domino Project, “We are all weird”, nails what many have been saying is broken about marketing. The old days of blasting out your message to the masses and having it succeed are doomed. People don’t want mass marketing, they want me marketing.

Sure, mass markets will always exist and generic products and services will continue to garner profits, but they will become a minority and be outgrown by the new norm of being weird.

“The weird set an example for the rest of us. They raise the bar; they show us through their actions that in fact we’re wired to do the new, not to comply with someone a thousand miles away.”

It’s a quick read but one that will stick with you for a while.

Read This Before Our Next Meeting

Let’s face it: We all hate meetings, dread the weekly status, the meetings that exist for no reason, just to satisfy a corporate agenda. This book not only taps into this feeling and our meeting culture, but also suggests how to make meetings more effective, efficient, and worthy of attending.

So, if you’re sick of feeling like your time is being wasted by pointless meetings or are simply looking for ways to improve your professional capacity and productivity at work, then I highly recommend getting a copy. Buy one for all your co-workers, you might just transform your company in 2012.

Lost Decades: The Making of America’s Debt Crisis.

As a marketing professional, you need to understand the mechanics and details of our global economy because they determine behavior of current/future customers. “Lost Decades” is a comprehensive exploration of the political and economic roots of the current crisis as well as its long-term effective.

The authors show how financiers, politicians, and ideologues ushered in the crisis, and highlight the challenges we need to overcome to avoid more lost decades.

It’s a not an uplifting book but it gives you an understanding how silly the arguments and positions of our current breed of politicians are. If we get policy right, we’ll be fine in 10 years. If we continue on the current path of the two-party system ideologues, we might be in a permanent crisis.

Before I Go to Sleep

Let’s end on a positive note: “Before I go to sleep” is my favorite fiction book of the year.

Imagine waking up every day not knowing who you are. All memories disappear every time you fall asleep. Your partner is a stranger, explaining your life each and every day all over again. You used to have a normal life and now a mysterious accident forces you to live this bizarre existence.

I finished this book in one reading because of the strength of writing, and the way the author is able to transcend the basic premise and present profound questions about memory and identity. For me, this was the book of the year.


This week I participated in the Beyond Cause Marketing Summit, presented by causeShift.

The premise:

“Let’s face it – cause marketing isn’t getting the job done. For all the money and attention raised, not enough is being done to address the major challenges facing society today. It’s time to shift our thinking and approach.

Rather than rehash past campaigns, Beyond Cause Marketing will build on the success of last year’s run by gathering leading cause marketing practitioners from corporations, charities, and agencies together with disruptors and innovators from other disciplines to challenge the commonly held assumptions of cause marketing. This diverse group of leaders will create new frameworks and approaches for how companies, charities, and government can better engage and encourage the public to solve social issues.”

Scott Henderson and his team (Amy Mai Bertelsen  and Brian Reich) led us through one-one-one discussions and collaboration sessions, expanding the horizon. It was a very special morning and

Here are a few tweets from the morning, just to give you a few insights the group gathered:

  • @sloane: People want us to build a bonfire but give us 2 sticks, a match and it’s really cold & wet outside.
  • @sd913: Get out of your comfort zone and try things out!
  • @CaseyB: @stmhoward says we need more cause intelligence – be a listener that distills true meaning.
  • @sd913: Stop measuring: 1. Reach 2. Size 3. Awareness/Impressions
  • @sonarc: data/=insight. more data/=more insight, more likely = confusion. Telling a story based on data? priceless
  • @sd913: Social is about finding expertise rapidly. Bringing teams together. Organizing ppl in a rapid fashion to take action
  • @sattler360: Lots of small actions can add up quickly. Time to change ‘go big or go home’ to ‘go small lots of times?
  • @TeshiShell: We need to start treating social as an ecosystem instead of individual tools, says @calebbarlow of IBM
  • @mktg4good: @brianreich – stop what you’re doing, simplify your purpose into an 8 word sentence, communicate it, see what happens

It’s just the beginning of a journey.

My biggest takeaway is that we just need to get started. Yes, we have major economic problems and I’m big fan of being aware of the macro-economic issues and challenges, building a better world in the spirit of Umair Haque’s The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business. But we have to make sure to start the work now, in the spirit of Seth Godin’s premise of Linchpin.

Changing the world can be as simple (and brilliant) as finding a new use for a bottle of water.

Low-cost, high-impact, life-changing.

Rock on.


A few years back, my niece visited my office and after spending the whole day with me, she was asked by her mother: “What does Uwe do all day?”

Her answer: “He’s in meetings.”

That’s a sad reality for the majority of us.

Boring Meetings. Useless meetings. Sloppy meetings. If the US army would be as sloppily run as our meetings, there wouldn’t be the United States of America. If my kid would be as poorly prepared for her school life as most meetings are, she’d drop out of school in 7th grade.

Meetings are important.

They are the wheel that set things in motion.

Unfortunately, that wheel doesn’t work 95% of the time.

“Read this before our next meeting.”

It’s the title of a book by Al Pittampalli, published by The Domino Project and the content will change your life.

Al Pittampalli describes the usual MS Office appointments as ‘weapons of mass interruption’ and explains that it’s far too easy for people to call team meetings without any real preparation and empathy for the impact another bad meeting might have on all recipients.

In addition, he describes the majority of meetings as stalling tactics and havens for complacency or collective indecision.

How to combat ‘Death by meetings’

– Only invite people to meetings who NEED to be there, not people who SHOULD be there.

– Circulate reading materials way ahead of the meeting, insisting that everybody actually read the material. If not, ask them to leave the meeting. Should have used their own time get informed, meetings are about decisions, not information.

– All meetings have to have a clear purpose, clear objective(s) and end on time.

– Meet only to support a decision that has already been made.

– Produce committed action plans.

Summer is over. Time to be productive again.

Don’t waste another hour with useless meetings.

Buy the book to get more in-depth insights. It took me 30 minutes to read it. But it will save me a lot of time and energy in the years to come.

Oh, and please, don’t invite me to any meetings.


On my first day as a copywriter, I had no clue what I was doing. There were no courses for copywriters, nobody gave me any advice what to do. My first important job was writing headlines for a German charter company, marketing their Greek vacation packages. I look at their old advertising and started to write. I was sweating bullets. I had no clue if anything made sense, if they would fire me on the spot. At the end of the day, I dropped at least hundred headlines on the desk of my Creative Director. He was on the phone, nodded and I left for the day. I didn’t sleep all night. I’m sure I was unemployed. Next morning, the headlines waited for me on the desk, crossed out with a large “No”. And I went to work again. 3 days later, one headline was chosen and I slept for the first time. To start with another campaign that robbed me of sleep and instilled fear in me. Fear to be a failure. Fear to be laughed at. Fear not to be good enough.

Being scared is good

When you are scared because you don’t really know what you’re doing, you do your best to make up for it with really hard work. You try learn as much as you can to compensate. And, more often than not, you explore new possibilities that experts don’t consider. Being stupid keeps me alive and curious. Once I know everything, I’m ready to rot. And become obsolete.

That’s one of the reasons why I changed vocations early in my career (Law degree, speech pathology, advertising), moved from Germany to the US with two suitcases and started my own business last year. When I get too comfortable, I get itchy. It doesn’t feel right. I prefer the improvisation part where you rely on expertise and instincts.

That’s why I love digital marketing

Besides search advertising, we’re muddling our way through digital marketing. We’re trying our best to figure it out but what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow. That’s just the way it is. (Oh, and I have my doubts anybody has really figured out traditional advertising. Just saying…) There are too many platforms, too many options, too many new developments each and every day that makes it impossible to know everything. Or even 10%. Behavior changes constantly, people are doing things differently today than they did 6 months ago. We have start from scratch every time we start a new campaign or initiative. “Trued and tried” has transformed into “Outdated and tired”.

Question everything

You might not have the title. You might not wear the great suit. You might not have the impressive resume. You might not have worked with the legends of the industry. But you have all the right in the world to question everything the guy with the title, suit, resume and work experience tells you. It can go two ways: You’ll recognize the suit is empty and the resume is just a bunch of titles on one sheet of paper. Or you learn something from each other. People that can fill the suit and don’t bank their existence on titles will always be grateful for questions and deeper explorations. They want to learn and move away from the “true and tried” ways of doing business. So, if you get this assignment that blows your mind, work with a legend and have to show everything you got and then some: Appreciate that moment. Your head might explode. You might not sleep. But chances are, you will do your best work.

But, be careful

While you need to embrace the fear of not knowing anything, don’t give in to the lizard brain. Use your fear to your advantage, don’t give in to it. Don’t try to fit in, keep your head down and ignore the pull of the lizard brain. Be fueled by your fear and do your work under Hugh McLeod’s motto: Ignore everybody.


Seth Godin has been pouncing on this for a while: Focus on output, don’t bother with silliness, rather ship it.

It’s an important thought.

26 years ago, Neil Postman wrote “Amusing ourselves to death”. It wasn’t that easy in 1984 but you have to work hard not to amuse yourself to death in 2011. It has become amazingly easy to get input. The channel options are unlimited. I could easily stay on the couch all day and watch my Twitter stream go by, always finding new things to discover, new videos to watch, new posts to read. It appeases your brain. Well, at least you didn’t watch TV. You did something. Connected with the world. Shared ideas.

No, you didn’t.

You just amused yourself. Faking real engagement. Faking real work.

It’s easy to retweet a post. Or leave snarky comments. It’s hard to develop your own ideas and share them with the world. It’s hard to have a point of view and leave yourself open to criticism. Just because you’re on Twitter doesn’t mean you’re doing anything worthwhile.

There’s a time and place for both. Make sure the entertainment part doesn’t take over your life.

How to succeed in the next decade

My presentation at the iMedia Agency Summit at the beautiful Arizona  Biltmore focused on the changing agency landscape and how everyone of us has to adapt and change to succeed in the future.
Jodi Harris wrote a comprehensive overview of the presentation and embedded slideshow should give you a better feel for the emotion that I wanted to convey.
A last thought:
Change is hard. Whole industries are relying on this insight: Weight Watchers, Nicorette, just to name two companies. We say we want to be fit, don’t go to the gym and watch that reality show instead. We want to learn everything there is but we never read that important book your best friend recommended.
Seth Godin calls this the lizard brain, some others the resistance, I call it the negative voice in your head. That voice tells you to be careful, to take it slow, to compromise. It tells you to focus on the easy things first, do the Twitter update, the Facebook interaction, another spreadsheet, another memo before you create something real valuable. The voice in your head is responsible for lengthy meetings, mediocre products, the constant rationalization of everything your company and you yourself produces.
This voice never goes away. It might be a combination of your parents, teachers, friends, books you read and other media you consumed. Your job is to quiet that voice down. And focus on the things you really believe in. It’s a daily effort. Because the voice wants to be heard. But it’s your choice to listen to it and stay in the comfort zone. Or tune it out and change the world.
Below a list of books I mentioned in my presentation (no affiliate links):


This post appeared first on Jack Myers’ MediaBizBloggers site.

These writers put their heart and soul into their book. And changed the way I look at the world, how I see myself and transformed the way I work. As a thank you, please see my recommendations below. (No affiliate links)

The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity

Richard Florida reminds us to consider the current recession as a moment of transformative upheaval (like the Great Depression) “when new technologies and technological systems arise, when the economy is recast and society remade, and when the places where we live and work change to suit new needs” While I find, Richard Florida often doesn’t go deep enough in his analysis (based also on the fact we’re in the middle of another Great Reset), it’s a great reminder that this current crisis is not just another recession. It’s a paradigm shift of global proportions.

Empowered: Unleash Your Employee, Energize Your Customer, and Transform Your Business

As a follow-up to the Social Media bible Groundswell, Empowered discusses how employees with great ideas should be encouraged to innovate and transform your business to better serve customers. Josh Bernoff bases his book on the idea that service is the new marketing and asks managers to work with employee innovators (called HEROs by the author) to spread the positive word about your business through their own channels. A great introduction for people to move their organization from using Social Media as a media channel to transforming your enterprise to a Social business.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Did you know you’re an artist? You better believe it, work like an artist and stop being a cog in an organization or you will become obsolete. Linchpin is by far Seth Godin’s most passionate and mature book, encouraging people to become emotional workers. This book will make you look at yourself and the work you are doing. And it will challenge you to finally make the leap to become a linchpin yourself. Come on, take the leap. Buy the book. Become an artist. Do the sacrifice and create emotional work. It’s your choice. It’s hard work. It can be a burden. And it will be the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done.

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This is my daughter. Look at her. There’s this aura of infinite possibilities – she’s ready to take on the world. Nothing will stand in her way to explore this world that’s hers. We all used to be like that. We all had this fire in our eyes. Each morning we couldn’t wait to get out of bed, ready to make this world our world. We were curious. Eager. Had so many questions. Tried things out. Fell down. Tried them again.

And then life happened to us. Or better, institutions stood in our way. Pre-school. Kindergarden. Norms. Criticism. Homework. Schedules. School. Cruel teachers. Critical teachers. Grades. Norms. The system integrated us. We integrated the system into our lives. Into our thinking. And being. We graduated. When we were lucky, we traveled for a while. Found that joyful life experience again. But now it was time to join the workforce. To fit in. To accept mediocrity. Suddenly, it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. Weekends and vacations are the only remaining highlights. We are slowly killing off everything that made us happy and curious in the first place.

Hold on, we just got a second chance.

The Great Recession is the biggest opportunity we will encounter in our lives. The Great Recession equals major hardship for many people but it also marks the end of the corporate era. If you’re corporate drone, your job will be eliminated very soon. If you try to fit in to make it in this world, you will struggle for the rest of your life. In order to succeed, you have to become an artist.

That’s the premise of Seth Godin’s newest book “Linchpin – Are you indispensable?” We have to become more human, creative and generous to be seen as unique and irreplaceable. And, most importantly, we have to ship. Meaning, we have to produce. Not spending hours on email trafficking, Twitter scanning, blog commenting. No, shipping. Producing. Doing. We can either give in to the lizard brain, the little part of your brain that is concerned with survival and is the reason for your procrastination and all your irrational fears. Or we can create our own destiny. Our own reality. And, at the same time, change the world.

Seth Godin’s Linchpin might be the most important book you’ve read in a long time. Hopefully, it will change you and your thinking. We’ve been working with major Fortune 100 corporations for years, even decades. We understand how tough it is to implement cultural change. But, it’s necessary. Actually, it’s imperative. Would you rather help your company change or see it vanish?

Seth Godin’s Linchpin and Hugh McLeod’s Evil plans (he illustrated Linchpin because he’s one) will give you the motivation and desire to change the world. We started our company with the goal to help transform businesses and change the way we work and live. Seth Godin distilled our thoughts in a neat and exciting package. Now it’s your turn to take the ball and change the world. We hope you’re ready.