connection economy as explained by seth godin

Thriving In The Connection Economy – Seth Godin


What To Know

  • I came across an insightful presentation by Seth Godin and found it captivating and so relevant to our concept of building thought leadership through brand publishing.
  • In this article, I will share principles and examples to help you spread your ideas in today’s connection economy.

How to Get Your Ideas to Spread In The Connection Economy

I came across an insightful presentation by Seth Godin and found it captivating and so relevant to our concept of building thought leadership through brand publishing.

Summary: The main ideas are that marketing is changing radically, and we need new approaches focused on connections and networks rather than mass advertising. Leaders should embrace failure, connect with their tribe, and aim to create movements and culture rather than just products. An openness to change and tension is required to innovate. Choosing to matter and lead with passion is more important than success.

We live in revolutionary times. The way we work, play, communicate, and market are all undergoing seismic shifts. To succeed today, we must open our minds to new ways of seeing the world. The old models of mass marketing no longer work in our hyper-connected society. Instead, we must identify niche threads of interest and build networks of passionate communities.

This revolution may seem daunting, but it presents exciting opportunities for those willing to embrace change.

As marketing guru Seth Godin explains, everything we do is going to be done differently. The perfect is destroyed by the good enough. The impossible becomes normal.

To ride this wave, we must rethink our assumptions and swim against the tide.

In this article, I will share principles and examples to help you spread your ideas in today’s connection economy. By building networks, embracing failure, and leading with grit and passion, you can make change happen.

The Decline of Mass Marketing Against The Rise of The Connection Economy

For decades, mass marketing prevailed. Industrialization enabled companies to manufacture standardized products in mass quantities. Broadcasting allowed them to promote these products to the entire consumer market at once.

It was the golden age of big brands, catchy slogans, and Madison Avenue.

Consumers were told what to buy through stories that tapped into their desires and fears. Marketing focused on establishing an emotional connection to get people to choose a product. Their relationship with customers was transactional.

The goal was simply to sell more widgets by convincing people they would be happier with this car or that household cleaner.

However, consumer fatigue led to the decline of mass marketing. People grew tired of excessive advertising shouting for their attention. And with more options to choose from, they became more selective. Today’s consumers demand unique products that speak specifically to their individual needs and interests. They are skeptical of slick marketing campaigns designed to manufacture desire for things people don’t really need.

The internet accelerated the demise of mass marketing. Digital tools have fragmented the media landscape and audience attention. Consumers connect directly with brands and each other through social media. User-generated content is more trusted than promotional messaging. There is no captive audience waiting obediently for advertisements during commercial breaks. Reaching people has become exponentially more complex.

Simply shouting the loudest no longer works. Our cluttered environment demands more sophisticated approaches to marketing. We must now rise above the noise and make meaningful connections.

The Connection Economy

In place of mass marketing, the connection economy has emerged. Value is created through networks, coordination, trust, and the sharing of ideas. Relationships become a priority over transactions.

Four principles underpin the connection economy:

  • Coordination – Facilitating productive teamwork and collaboration.
  • Trust – Building confidence and loyalty among users and partners.
  • Permission – Gaining willing engagement rather than demanding attention.
  • Sharing Ideas – Enabling conversations and peer-to-peer exchange.

To succeed today, companies must build and nurture networks. The internet provides tools to connect with niche audiences in more relevant ways. Online communities allow people to find their tribe. Platforms like social media empower users to engage instead of just consume.

Relationships are built through sharing useful information, not just promoting products.

Seth Godin argues that “marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.” Crafting and distributing captivating stories to the right audiences is the essence of permission marketing. It invites people in rather than interrupting them with unwanted messages.

Abundance over Scarcity

  • The connection economy also demands a shift to an abundance mindset. In the past, mass marketing thrived on scarcity.
    • Manufacturing and shelf space were limited, so companies competed fiercely for market share.
    • Shows and magazines had confined slots for advertisements.

Attention was treated as a scarce resource to be captured through interruptive methods.

  • However, digital infrastructure has greatly expanded possibilities.
    • Shelf space is unlimited in the virtual world.
    • There are endless channels and platforms to reach almost any audience imaginable.
    • The costs of production and distribution have dropped dramatically.

Attention remains scarce, but connecting with communities is easier than ever.

  • An abundance mindset takes advantage of these opportunities.
    • It treats ideas, talent, and conversation as abundant.
    • Collaboration is seen as multiplying options rather than threatening competitive advantage.
    • Innovation becomes an inclusive process of building on ideas rather than jealously guarding them.

Generosity Enables Growth

  • This abundance mindset requires generosity. Rather than hoarding resources, organizations must give value away free to attract interest. The internet runs on “the generosity of strangers,” as audiences invest attention in exchange for something useful or entertaining.
  • Giving away some content for free helps build trust and permission. It kickstarts the vital cycle of sharing and reciprocity. Holding everything back seems scarcer and less appealing in a transparent digital world.
  • Of course, pure altruism is not sustainable. Generosity must be paired with strategy. The connections enabled by free content can lead to other opportunities to provide services or products people are willing to pay for. Value must eventually translate to revenue.
  • Yet done right, generosity can unlock growth. Google gives away its web search and has built an empire on targeted advertising. Media websites offer free content supported by subscriptions and sponsorships. Companies like MailChimp and Slack utilize “freemium” models, providing free trials and basic features that hook users in for the long-term.
  • The internet amplifies generosity. Value spreads rapidly online, as content gets shared within networks. A single compelling story or idea can reach a massive audience through viral distribution. Taking advantage of this multiplier effect requires framing ideas in shareable ways.

The Power of Remarkability

  • In today’s crowded marketplace, simply being good is not good enough. To stand out, you must be truly remarkable. You must create content and experiences worth talking about. Only the remarkable spreads.
  • Remarkable products solve problems in clever ways. Remarkable stories captivate our emotions and imagination. Remarkable ideas challenge our thinking. Remarkable brands embody distinct personalities.
  • Seth Godin defines remarkable as “worth making a remark about.” It provokes reactions and fuels conversations. If nobody is remarking about your product or idea, you become invisible.
  • Remarkability is not easy. It means sticking your neck out when it would be safer to blend in. But the reward is attention and buzz. With enough remarkable ideas connecting with the right networks, a movement can take shape.

Movements not just Products

  • In today’s marketing, the ultimate goal should not be selling more products. It should be leading movements.
  • A movement is a tribe united around a common purpose or ideology. It leverages networks to spread ideas and change minds. Leaders inspire action through narrative and vision.
  • Marketing has traditionally been product-centric. But positioning it as a movement is more compelling to customers. It taps into their deepest motivations and desires. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. A movement invites them to a larger purpose.
  • Consider how Apple became far more than a company selling phones and laptops. Their brand fuels a movement around challenging the status quo and thinking different. Tesla turned electric vehicles into a movement to accelerate sustainable energy.
  • Savvy marketing weaves a brand into the very identity of customers. They become proud ambassadors reporting on the frontlines of the movement. This enthusiastic unpaid marketing force is far more powerful than any traditional advertising.
  • Leading movements requires guts. It means taking bold stands and pushing boundaries. Not everyone will agree with you. But those who do will become your most passionate supporters and advocates.

The Leader’s Grit

  • Leading any movement or organization today requires grit. In his books “Grit” and “Tribes”, Seth Godin argues that leadership is first about creating culture. Leaders must set the tone through their actions and build tribes around shared values.
  • This begins with saying no. Leaders must be willing to reject safe stagnation. They should question lazy assumptions and industry norms. Sticking your neck out inevitably provokes criticism and backlash. But playing it safe is the most dangerous move in times of disruption.
  • Leaders must demonstrate the courage to fall down and get back up again. They should run productive meetings, stay focused under stress, and avoid distractions. Setting priorities and eliminating extraneous activities directs energy toward big goals. Learning to manage expectations and say no frees up resources for innovation.
  • Grit enables leaders to fully commit to their visions. If you lack passion for your work, those you lead will sense it. To enroll others, leaders must be 100% emotionally invested. They must communicate complete confidence that together the tribe can reach the promised land. This vulnerability establishes trust and inspires action.
  • Yet passion alone is not enough. Leaders must also cultivate patience and emotional intelligence. Innovating requires the grit to power through setbacks when things take longer than expected. Changes provoke discomfort and even anger in some. Empathetic leadership eases this tension and provides reassurance.
  • Grit should not slide into ruthlessness. Leaders must balance conviction with compassion. Listening to criticism with an open mind strengthens plans and builds loyalty. Complete certainty in your beliefs can slide into arrogance and limit growth. Stubborn grit that refuses to adapt can also turn toxic. The most effective leaders stay fixed on a vision yet remain flexible in strategy.

Embracing Tension and Failure

  • Delivering on a bold vision requires comfort with tension. Leading change inevitably produces friction. Old processes break down and employees struggle with uncertainty. Impatience for results builds.
  • Leaders must articulate the rationale for change and acknowledge the difficulties. They should explain how short-term pain drives long-term gain. Setting clear milestones and celebrating small wins maintains momentum. Humor and humanity can relieve stress during gritty stretches.
  • Above all, leaders must demonstrate faith things will improve if the tribe remains committed. They should remind everyone that they are in it together. This sense of shared mission and hardship unites teams.
  • Innovation also demands the courage to fail. Fear of failure stifles creativity. The desire to protect or please stakeholders leads organizations to play it safe. They become resistant to re-examining familiar models.
  • However, failure is essential for growth. We learn more from what does not work than what does. NASA built on the failures of early space missions to eventually land on the moon. In startups, quick failure enables pivoting until product-market fit is found. As Beckett said, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
  • Leaders must create a culture that encourages experimentation and normalizes failure. Employees should feel safe knowing they will not be blamed if bold ideas do not pan out. Frame failure as an opportunity for important learnings rather than something to be ashamed of. Celebrate failure as a milestone on the path to eventual success.
  • Emphasize that every failure brings you closer to finding what works. The quicker you fail, the faster you will iterate your way to excellence. As Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn says: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” Early failure is the price of ambitious innovation.

Choose to Matter

  • In today’s fragmented media landscape, Seth Godin argues that succeeding is not enough. Each of us must choose to matter.
  • By default, we slide toward mediocrity and conformity. We set our sights on modest goals and hope we make it through another day. This slow decline toward irrelevance feels safer but wastes our creative potential.
  • Choosing to matter requires embracing a higher purpose. It means believing your ideas and voice can make a difference. You must care enough to put in the grit required to share them.
  • Leaders must ignite this sense of purpose across their organizations. They should challenge teams to create experiences that resonate emotionally and spread contagiously. Products should deliver meaning, not just functionality.
  • Marketing comes down to making choices that matter. Are you defaulting to passive tactics that fade into the noisy crowd? Or are you taking the risk to intentionally stand out? Bolder choices require more grit but are the only path to remarkability.
  • The choice to lead also separates those willing to take responsibility from those waiting for direction. Leadership is not granted, it is claimed. You must choose to believe your vision deserves a following.
  • Choosing to matter means connecting your work to personal meaning. Tasks become sacred when tied to what makes you come alive. Work filled with passion energizes you and attracts others. Any project, no matter how small, can be a work of art given the right intent.
  • Seth Godin closes with this call to action: “We’re surrounded by people who are busy getting their work done. They’re getting it done on time and on budget. But most of the time, they are getting the wrong work done. The right work is frightening, dangerous. It requires you to put yourself at risk.

I urge you to consider doing the work that matters. The work that’s worth writing about, singing about, talking about years later. Create art that matters. Create marketing that matters. Tackle projects that will change things.”

Are you ready to spread your ideas in the connection economy? It starts with reimagining how you see the world and connect with others. Embrace bold visions, build tribes, and lead movements. Work that matters takes grit, but passion and generosity will set it in motion.

The future belongs to the few who choose to spread ideas worth remarking on. What will your choice be?

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