Seth Godin’s “Meatball Sundae”

Seth Godin’s meatball sundae is an unappetizing image with a purpose. Thanks to the nice folks at Citrix, you can get a taste of his presentation here . Godin, the early evangelist for permission marketing, loves to concoct sticky images, like has famous Purple Cow.

“Meatball sundae” refers to the odd concoction that faces many of today’s marketers: The client (internal or external) comes up with a meatball of a product — something of good quality that’s still basically a commodity. Then management asks the marketing team to add the whipped-cream-and-cherry topping of digital marketing.

In the presentation, Godin outlines how Josiah Wedgewood, one of history’s great entrepreneurs and an early brand pioneer, turned a small pottery business into the 18th century’s greatest fortune. He realigned his family’s business brilliantly to take full advantage of exciting new technologies of the time, such as mass production and distribution by rail and sea. 

The moral of the story is that marketers in any age must fully understand and take advantage of the prevailing technologies and trends that shape customer relationships. Wedgewood used advances in industrial production and transportation to spread his business worldwide.

For Revlon, it was print advertising.

For Gillette, it was TV.

For us today, Godin outlines 14 trends that get us out of the meatball trap, most of which result from the overwhelming influence of the Internet, and how it changes our relationship with our customers. 

Marketing junkies may not learn anything new. But Godin articulates it all so clearly, and provides such great context, you might be inspired to incorporate some of his observations and thinking into your own presentations. And these days, whose business couldn’t use a little inspiration?

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