The Business Part of Business

State of the Seth Godin Tribe, 2017

This bespectacled, defolliculated man is a marketing genius.

That’s not news to us here; over the years Seth Godin has appeared many times at Answer Guy Central. Today, though, he’s back with a vengeance; in 2017 The Seth Godin Tribe means more than ever.

As much as I respect Seth Godin’s work, there’s a part of me that’s thought of him for the last couple of years as one more cliché-wielding marketer. And in a sense, that analysis is correct; lately, so many people are busy telling you how to do marketing that even true experts like Seth have become suspect.

But today I came across a piece of content that really bothered me—and then one that bothered me even more. At WPKube, they asked the question “Is Gravity Forms Worth The Hype?“, and at BusinessGrow my old friend Mark Schaefer published a piece simultaneously talking about how difficult content marketing has become, posited that you need to keep at it anyway, but failed to say how to do that effectively.

The problem with both of those stories is the same, and directly conflicts with Mr. Godin’s cornerstone work. In TribesSeth Godin was the first guy to say directly that now authenticity is all that matters in marketing.

Mark Schaefer’s piece suffers from obvious inauthenticity, but what about WPKube’s piece on a particular WordPress-based form builder?

While the title of WPKube’s piece is clear that it will be a review of the GravityForms plug-in, I found myself expecting something entirely different when these words showed up in the second paragraph of the article:

With so many free contact form plugins, why would you ever consider a paid plugin like Gravity Forms?

It’s a fine question, but it sets the table for one of two realities: either WPKube is shilling Gravity Forms, or the writer needs to be in a different business. Meaning either that WPKube can’t be trusted to do a “review”, or that there’s a tribe problem.

In other words, The Seth Godin Tribe, where authenticity is everything, this is not.

The Seth Godin Tribe

There’s not really a problem in the first option; we’re all selling, all the time. And Kardashian rules notwithstanding, that’s OK. But with so many folks vying for your attention and so many WordPress information sites out there, writing bad copy is a big problem for WPKube. Who exactly is the community looking for badly written “maybe it’s a review, and maybe not” articles?

Here’s the big question: if we’re all the product of all we’ve ever done, how do you judge authenticity?

Seth Godin is proud of what he does for a living and will tell you so. “The Seth Godin Tribe” isn’t just an idea, nor even just a book. Seth founded Squidoo, a website where anyone could publish their ideas, before that idea was in vogue, or easy. But Seth sold Squidoo to Hubpages, an outfit known for churning out loads of content of very little value. We used to call these sites content farms, and on them landowners made out while the farmers got very little.

Today, anyone who relies on content farms instead of owning their own “land” is in a load of trouble. On the other hand, it’s awfully hard to get people to leave Home Depot for your mom-and-pop shop—and just as hard to get people to visit you instead of Facebook.

But you can work with Facebook. Coopetition, our spin on Tribes, has always worked, and today it may be the only way you can stand out.

Or as the Seth Godin Tribe knew years ago, there’s only one way to do great marketing. If you’ve got 18 minutes to spare, you should take a look at this TedTalk from right after Seth published Tribes:

(as we always do, just in case Ted is ever unavailable we’ve archived it here).

Not quite sure who your Tribe is? Seth Godin won’t talk to you, but … we will.