Key Note: No Free Stamps Here!

Seth Godin, author and entrepreneur, accomplished his presentation goal at the IN Conference this morning: to give email marketers some interesting thoughts, words and images to take back to their organizations for how to not be average.

How can email marketers achieve that? By approaching email marketing with the goal of promoting ideas that spread, rather than just interrupting people with the same messaging that gets blasted to everyone, day in and day out. This results in the creation of average products for average people – a mass-market distribution approach that calls for the dumbing-down of the marketing that supports it. So what happens? Consumers learn to quickly tune marketers out and ignore their same one-dimensional messaging. Marketers become invisible amongst all the clutter.

For email subscribers, that means they receive an overwhelming amount of junk, and it’s perceived as junk because the messages are impersonal and irrelevant. Seth challenged the group to evolve our thinking, while acknowledging the fact that it’s much easier to be average as opposed to “zigging” when everyone “zags.”

So how can marketers change their thinking? By embracing the fact that they are part of an amazing industrial revolution that is taking place. Email is an incredible medium and a channel that can provide infinite opportunities for revenue, branding and relationship building. Marketers have the privilege of being able to send anticipated, relevant and personal messages to the people who want to receive them. Seth summed that up nicely by saying, “Permission is not being TOLERATED; it’s being ANTICIPATED.”

He gave the group 14 big ideas that can change the way they think about email marketing and help them to break out of the “average” box. Some of those big ideas included:

    • Everybody is a powerful as the most powerful restaurant reviewer. In other words, email marketers can either create brand ambassadors or brand detractors. Consumers have the power to give feedback and publish that feedback to a wide audience almost instantly. Every customer is a company spokesperson.
  • Make something that people choose to talk about. How? By telling your subscribers a story about how your products and services can help improve your customers’ lives. Rather than focusing on product specs, provide customers with the information they need to use your products to their advantage. That’s something that will help marketers stand out in the marketplace and get customers talking.


  • Consumers don’t care about you, they care about other consumers. Companies like PayPal don’t make it easy to send money to them, but focus on the experience of consumers being able to easily send money to each other.


  • There is a big difference between who and how many. Rather than paying more to reach the masses (a la Super Bowl TV advertising), marketers should be paying more to reach more targeted consumers. In other words, focus on the micro.


  • Be a leader, not a gatekeeper. Lead those consumers who want to follow you, rather than spamming those who want to stop you.


At the end of the day, email marketing should be about giving people what they want, connecting them to each other and then getting out of the way.

According to Seth, marketers can achieve this by being remarkable (or starting over until they are), telling an engaging story about how their products help consumers live better lives and creating brand ambassadors in the process who will spread the word for you. Then marketers can get permission to tell the next person, and so on.

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