Both Ted and myself have recently taken an interest in the works of Seth Godin, one of the gurus of marketing in the Internet age. More than likely we were both influenced by the good things said about him on the Stack Overflow Podcast.
Ted recently reviewed Purple Cow, one of Seth’s more famous books. He gave it a fairly negative review. I haven’t read Purple Cow or any of Seth’s other books yet (they’re still on hold at the library), but I have recently added his blog feed to my Google Reader. Based on what I’ve seen, some of Ted’s comments are right on the money:
If I hadn’t been privy to the blogging phenomena, I’d probably have described this book as The Art of War for marketing, a collection of quips and anecdotes.
The author builds some pretty big bridges over the chasm between cause and effect with bold and broad statements along the lines of “product X was crazy successful because of tactic Y,” glossing over any possible nuances of the relationship between the two or other possible external market factors.
Even though I agree with Ted on what Seth does, I don’t get the same negative impression about the results. Much like the Sun Tzu work that Ted mentioned, Seth provides illustrative insights into high-level concepts. Ted is looking for details on how to implement those concepts. Both are important to have; Seth set the direction, the things that Ted reads describe how to get there.
The most interesting part is that Seth left a comment on Ted’s review that said pretty much the same thing:
If you don’t like short and provocative riffs, you’ll hate my blog, I promise. Just FYI, I’m told by happy readers that the book has provoked people to start things, fix things, earn a lot and have fun doing it.
Seth wants to inspire people with grand visions, and hopes that inspiration will help people to discover solutions on their own. That’s a noble goal.