EbayLive: Godin Spreads Ideaviruses

    June 14, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

We are entering an era of emotional marketing, Squidoo’s Seth Godin told the attendees at eBay Live today. Don’t worry too much if that’s not clear, it will become clearer, as Mr. Intangible Concept explains.

Seth Godin At eBay Live
Seth Godin At eBay Live

Godin likes the ethereal, it would seem, and likes to blog about vibes and what not. But his knack for catch phrases and abstracts is what inspires (and sells) a half-dozen of his books, where he tells readers how to be remarkable, when to quit, and about ideaviruses.

How else would you live up to the job title "agent of change"?

At the conference, Godin parlayed the ideavirus (for those of us that care little for neologisms, think "meme" – Greek doesn’t go over well in the mass market) into an interesting discussion about generating buzz for your site or product.

"One person decides someone is a superstar, and the word spreads," he said. The key to getting more site traffic, then, is promoting yourself, an activity that helps create the superstar image.

"People are attracted to superstars and they will buy into your product or site just because everyone else is."

While that’s somewhat Aristotelian (right now I’m lowering my glasses down the bridge of my nose to look extra-professorish), this is more in line with Aristippus of Cyrene‘s supposed love of passionate pursuits (I’m pursing my lips just so after that, for emphasis).

It is this memetic, sorry, ideaviral tendency in humans to accept passion from one and give it to another that seems to be the basis of Godin’s philosophy. 

"You have to love what you are talking about, or the people won’t love it," he said. So, "sell something worth talking about."

He used the example of LittleMissMatched.com, a website that sells mismatched socks for the symmetrically agnostic and impaired. The scourge of lonesome footwear must be stopped, as it were.

Godin notes that this company’s "business is booming." A company that sells mismatched socks is worth talking about – it becomes a story to tell, to hear, to add to the collective myth.

At the end of the day, whether creating superstars or (excitedly) spreading the word about a product or service, marketers are storytellers.

Fancy Feast Cat Food, for example, is a carefully crafted myth that cats have a sense of class and general Aristotelian viewpoints. This is not so. Cats most love garbage and butts. People with money are the aristocrats, and like the idea of having aristocratic cats.

Even if that’s really, really silly. The ideavirus – the meme – is airborne, regardless of recent pet food developments and all sense of sense.

Godin’s bottom line is more of a "revolving circle," as opposed to other redundant repetitiveness:

1.    Be remarkable (at it’s base, "remarkable" means "something to mention")
2.     Tell a story that makes people feel good
3.    When they feel good, they’ll spread the word about why (remarking about it)
4.     And then they’ll give you permission to market to them