Insight Into The Ideas Behind Advocate Marketing From Seth Godin

How Seth Godin’s marketing principles apply to advocate marketing and social amplification

Seth Godin on social amplification

Seth Godin’s blog is one of the most popular in the world – it topped Ad Age’s Power 150 in 2009, and ranked #6 when the list was discontinued last month – so chances are you’ve already read his latest posts.

But, while reading, did you make the connection between his most recent words of wisdom and advocate marketing?

It’s not obvious. Not one for marketing buzz words, he never once mentions the phrases advocating marketing, customer advocacy, brand advocates, etc., but he eloquently moves around those topics as he writes on message social amplification, “brand crushes,” and even his books, Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside.

So, if you really want to understand advocate marketing, you should read Seth’s latest posts (which, again, aren’t really about advocate marketing but reinforce the ideas behind it).

For example, in Q&A: Purple Cows and commodities, published last week, he answers this reader question: “How do you turn something that is considered to be a commodity into a Purple Cow, when the lowest price is the only thing that seems to matter to customers?”

If you tell me that price is the only thing that matters to customers, I respond that nothing about this product matters to them. […] No, you can’t magically make it interesting to all. But yes, with enough effort and care, you can find those that are interested enough in what you create that they’ll choose to talk about it.

Consider the products you advocate for yourself, either in your personal or professional life. They may not be the fastest, highest quality or cheapest, but there’s just something about those products and companies that resonates with you. You don’t just use the products because they do the job and you acquired them at an adequate price – you really love them and you want everyone to know how amazing these products are so they can benefit from them in the same way.

Not just here but in almost everything he does, Seth advises that building a remarkable product is the best way to attract customers – much better than building a mediocre one and marketing the heck out of it.

He continued this line of thought yesterday, in Q&A: Where is the free prize inside?:

We almost never buy the item we buy because it excels at a certain announced metric. Almost no one drives the fastest car or chooses the most efficient credit card. No, we buy a story.

The story is the thing that the product also does. It’s the other reason we buy something, and usually, the real reason.

A company’s advocates don’t just perform social amplification of a story – they are the story. Each and every voice adds another layer – and a bit of extra weight – to the story so that, as prospective customers explore their options, they feel compelled to buy the story with the best layers, the most weight.

Finally, in today’s brief post, Message amplification isn’t linear, Seth explains the “equation” behind the reason people buy product stories layered and weighted with all of those advocate voices:

[W]hen you hear an idea from two people, it counts for twice as much as if you randomly hear it once. And if you hear an idea from ten people, the impact is completely off the charts compared to just one person whispering in your ear.

The quote in the image above is from this post as well.

Are you making the connection now? Learn more about advocate marketing. It’ll come in handy as more and more marketing thought leaders like Seth Godin discuss it on blogs, in books and at conferences moving forward.

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  • Devin

    As Mr. Godin states, the “other reason” is the story and usually the real reason people love your products. Most of what companies talk about are table stakes. Don’t be afraid to talk about the “other.”

  • chorenf

    This reinforces to me that companies should not only be leveraging their advocates to share information via social media, they should be focusing on review sites such as IT Central station, Trust Radius, G2 Crowd among others to leave “stories” about their experiences for others to see and learn from.

  • Heather Page

    Customer stories are great because they help potential buyers understand how and why they want/use your product. It’s rare that I make a purchase without first checking in with the experience of those who’ve been there before me.