Good-bye Seth Godin

He’s the bible of marketing. And like the bible, for every story he writes about in his blog you can find another one of his stories which contradicts it.

I’m not quite sure what his stance is. He’s a bit like the magician who’s magic is to reveal how a trick is done. He’s a marketer right, so is this a clever marketing ploy to stand out from the other marketers – the marketeer who reveals the marketing tricks? Does this make him the uber marketeer, evil incarnate, or some kind of anti marketeer hero?  Or is his mission just to be talked about like a novelty product? Well, that must be working because I’m writing about him.

Some of the tricks he reveals are a bit lame too (is that because I know most of this marketing theory?) – all marketeers are liars. Uh-huh, revelatory stuff. Presumably this title is a reworking of the ancient joke as first told by an Athenian stand up comic; “all Athenians are liars”.

I reckon a lot of his warmed over writings are due to the soul destroying tyrannical demands of daily posts. You have to have a regular trick to deal with that and in this post about Malcolm Gladwell’s new book this is the one he uses, “So, success is due to 10,000 hours of hard work according to the research.” he says. “But not always, look at these exceptions. Er, so what am I saying here?”

Here’s another example of his contrariness. He rails against consumerism, we don’t need any more stuff he exhorts. But look at all the books Seth has for sale on his blog. Do we need all those books? Did he have to write so many, why couldn’t he get it all into one book? But he is in the game of selling more books, more stuff.

A person can only take so much cognitive dissonance.

It’s such a fine line he treads; as I read I ask, “am I being had or aren’t I?” Ultimately, what he says is “Nobody knows anything”, but he pretends to know a bit more than his readers, otherwise why should they buy his books?

My best answer is that his books are specious, which is what marketing does best, so hats off to Seth for doing such a great job and having a huge readership (but is that doing a great job?). Hey, this ’set ‘em up to knock ‘em down’ game is addictive; I could do this all day…

It took me a long time to justify this post. I have a rule of courtesy that states, only ever offer an opinion when it is asked for. But then be ruthlessly honest with that opinion. Mr Godin didn’t ask for my opinion so can I stay true to my rule? Yes. Because I haven’t forced my opinion on him. Unless he reads my blog, he won’t know about it. And if he reads my blog then by default, he is soliciting my opinion.

And so I am removing his name from my blogroll. I just don’t feel his blog provides enough interesting material to recommend him to the kind of readers I would like to have.

4 Responses to “Good-bye Seth Godin”

  1. seth godin says:


    Of course I’ve solicited your opinion, and I thank you for taking the time to post it. And I’ll miss you on the blog.

    The thing is, I’m not sure what your opinion is. Shall I write less? Make sure that every one of my posts is consistent? The purpose of my blog is to make people think, to plant an idea, to start a discussion. I’m the first person to say that I’m often wrong, that I’m usually inconsistent and that there isn’t just one answer for everyone.

    With that caveat in mind, I hope you’ll be open to new ways of looking at what you do. And if there’s ever a post that doesn’t make sense (I certainly didn’t write “Success is due to 10,000 hours of hard work”) then please drop me a line.


  2. I’ll try not to fawn too much here Ivor. I’ve been reading and following Seth for about 4 years now and you are right, he’s not always on the money but then who is? What I get from his writing is ideas, ideas and more ideas. Thanks to him I get excited about my job as a marketer, I don’t worry about being told I’m wrong or trying something new or daring.

    As with most things you have take everything on it’s own merit that’s what i do with Seth Godin. Some things I embrace, others I ignore.

    P.S. It’s very nice of him to post a comment. I bet you weren’t expecting that!

  3. Ivor Tymchak says:

    Richard, yes I was slightly surprised that he posted a comment. I say slightly, because I figured if he was a proper marketer he would have a Google Alert on his name, but credit where it is due, he did take the time to ask what is the problem.

    In the following e-mail correspondence I had with him I basically said his remit of ‘making people think’ was an excellent one but he posts ‘an idea’ every day. I don’t know if he is contractually obliged to do this or if he thinks that is how to get people to visit regularly but to post a useful insight every day is asking too much. The end result is to dilute some of the very good insights that he does have. My suggestion to him was to post fewer insights to maintain the quality. I regularly visit blogs that post erratically because I know when there is a new post, it will be a good one.

  4. I think the prolific nature of ideas (an quality of them is subjective and depends on readers context) shows that ideas are cheap, and that execution is the hard bit. I am in the Michie camp in that Mr Godin hits the target often enough for me to stay on the journey, and when he does disappoint he does so in a hundred words or so – no great loss. But that is a beauty of the web, we can curate our own content…

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