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What’s a Meatball Sundae? Five Things I Learned From Seth Godin

by Susan Koutalakis

I’ll never forget the day I heard someone in my department (h/t to Patrick M) said “meatball sundae” and I had no clue what it meant.

If you visualize a meatball sundae, it’s actually very simple. Would you put cold ice cream or ice cream toppings on hot meatballs? In the end, the toppings or ice cream melts and you’re left with melted ice cream on cold meatballs. It’s a great visual, right? It’s better to start with an ice cream base and add your toppings.

The term meatball sundae comes from a book by Seth Godin and much of the book’s premise still resonates today. This isn’t a book review—there’s plenty of them out there—but in case you haven’t dug into it I’ll sum it up: the old way of marketing needs to evolve. You can’t rely on old tools and old marketing tactics to move the needle for your organization.

But this blog isn’t really to talk about meatball sundaes or how much I like Seth Godin’s work. It’s to talk about things I’ve learned as a marketer from reading his blog. Yes, some of these might be more personal lessons but they’re still relevant:

  • What I’ve learned #1: It’s okay to say no.
  • What I’ve learned #2: Do what you’re good at but tell a good story. If you don’t tell a good cohesive story that aligns well, there’s your meatball sundae.
  • What I’ve learned #3: Marketing needs to help create value but if you are marketing a meatball sundae to people who really want spaghetti with their meatballs, where does that put you? Disjointed messaging never works.
  • What I’ve learned #4: Keep it short. People have short attention spans. If you read Seth’s blog like I do you’ll realize his blog posts are short and sweet without fluff. This is no different for marketing; you have limited headspace to attract, interact and flip a lead.
  • What I’ve learned #5: Marketing continues to change. This isn’t a surprise. When I started working in the marketing field things were so very different, I actually used to fax information (I might be showing my age here!). My last blog post has a lot more on this.

That’s what I’ve learned from Seth Godin as a marketer. What started out as a comment in the office one afternoon turned into so much more for me professionally.  I would love to hear what you have learned from Seth in the comments or better yet Tweet me and we can talk over there!

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