Seth Godin is revered as one of the best marketers in modern times. He’s a repeat best-selling author, credited with helping develop commercial email, and publishes a daily blog read by scores of top executives worldwide.
He also has a free podcast series, Seth Godin’s Startup School.
During the series he lays out 5 questions you should ask yourself when creating something. Whether you’re an artist, entrepreneur, or marketer (and we all market, aka attempt to persuade, every day) asking and truthfully answering these 5 questions will significantly increase your chance of success.
Here they are:
- Who is this for?
Deciding who you are making this creation for is mission critical. Selecting the right target market—the right tribe—to talk to is one of the key factors that determines whether a business venture succeeds or fails.
If your product or service is for everybody then, in reality, it’s for nobody. Pick a market and drill down on what makes this tribe tick.
- This group has subgroups. What do they believe? In other words, What’s the story they are telling themselves?
The key to effective marketing, according to Godin, is storytelling. Brands and individuals that tell stories that align with their target market’s beliefs win.
People buy based on emotion and justify their purchases with logic. So it’s important to understand the beliefs that drive the people you want to persuade. If you’re scratching your own itch (i.e. you’re in your target market) this is relatively easy. If not, you can utilize such tools as surveys, focus groups, and good old-fashioned research.
We’re all constantly telling ourselves stories about life. If you want your creation to be successful, figure out what stories the people you want to sell it to are operating under.
- Has this group ever spent money to buy something like this before?
Getting consumers to pay for something unlike anything they have ever purchased before is an uphill—often losing—battle. This is perhaps the main reason the “revolutionary” Segway failed.
People don’t just pay in money. You could also be asking your prospects to pay with their time, attention, trust, or to put their reputation on the line by providing you with referrals. If they have never done so for anything like your creation before, it’s a tall order. To say the least.
Completely foreign creations can work—especially when they are of superior quality or solve a real problem. Just know that educating an audience is often a costly—and risky—affair.
- Does this group know you exist?
Before you can persuade a person they have to know you exist. Attention, then, is a prerequisite in order to affect change. This is why Attention is the first step in the most popular formulas for effective marketing.
If you do not have your audience’s attention, it’s like you don’t even exist.
- Do these people who are aware of you trust you?
After you get your target’s attention, you need to secure their trust. It’s a requirement for virtually every transaction between human beings—especially when money is involved. If a prospect doesn’t trust you, why on Earth would he or she buy from you?
Can you think of a brand you consistently buy from that you don’t trust? How about an artist whose work you regularly consume?
There are numerous ways to build trust. A good deal of them legitimate, some murky, and others downright shady. The best way to instill long-lasting trust, though, is to be authentic. Be you, whether it’s being true as a brand or an individual. Speak your truth at all times and you need not worry about losing your audience’s trust.
That’s all, folks. I hope you find these 5 questions—this mental framework for approaching an act of creation—to be as useful as I do. Now, as Seth would say, Go make a ruckus.