“ You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn To See ”

by Seth Godin

Book Cover

This was a pretty hard read for me - not my day to day. It’s definitely a good book and a good message, would probaby rate it higher if I had my own business / working on that field / on a subsequent read.


Marketing is more than advertising. Marketing is inducing a change. It is finding a problem worth solving, and offering the solution. It is finding the people who resonate with the change you are proposing, paying attention to them, coming from a place of love, and communicating.

The problem is not selling more, creating better advertising, and better penetration. The problem is having a better offer, one that creates tension compared to the status quo, which creates forward motion.


We bring value to the world when we market. That’s why people engage with us.

If you don’t market the change you’d like to contribute, then you’re stealing.

~ Seth Godin, This is marketing

Marketers create tension, and forward motion relieves that tension

~ Seth Godin, This is marketing

Now, instead of asking, “How can I get more people to listen to me, how can I get the word out, how can I find more followers, how can I convert more leads to sales, how can I find more clients, how can I pay my staff . . . ?” you can ask, “What change do I seek to make?”

~ Seth Godin, This is marketing

Reading notes


  • What used to work doesn’t work anymore.
    • Marketing used to be centered on advertising but that doesn’t work with internet
    • Could steal attention for pennies but doesn’t work
    • Other professions don’t call your grandparents at night to sell them shit
  • What a marketer knows
    • Start with why
    • To sell anything you need intent

    • People tells themselves stories.
    • Sometimes, people can be stereotyped and grouped together based on their consumption habits
    • The story that you tell is much less important than the story being told about you
  • It’s a lot of trial and error


  • You can change people’s mind by changing the story they tell themselves, e.g. Transforming angst pf acquisition into pain of removal
  • Be driven by market instead of being driven by marketing
    • Driven by marketing = tune logo, colors and Facebook page
    • Driven by market = understand what drives the customers, their pain and their expectations
  • Marketing’s goal is to drive a change goal
    • Eg change XYZ customers into my customers, change students mind about what’s possible for them, etc.
    • Change needs to be attainable so it can be attained, systematized and repeated
    • Genuine and belief driven
    • Who? Targeting psychographics rather than demographics, i.e. People with a worldview rather than characteristics
  • Smallest viable market is the smallest market that can be sustained
    • Identify who’s problem you really try to solve
    • Then those who want it the most, and address them
    • Winner takes all is rarely a workable strategy, message gets diluted, wrong message gets propagated
    • Be clear when “it’s not for you”
  • → identify clearly who the business is for, be able to define that with a simple sentence, and use empathy to understand and relate to them

Defining the product

  • What’s good depends on taste => find what’s good for the SVM
    • Conspiracy theorists are not after truth but the feeling of being and outlier
  • People don’t need most things, they want them.
    • The story makes them feel a certain way

Choosing your audience

  • You can either have a lot of fans, or a few complete fans.
    • Complete fans support you a lot and spread the word
  • Each market needs hits (like Taylor Swift), you’re probably not a hit, therefore you should target having complete fans
    • Connect with empathy, and care
    • Find a (one) culture you want to change.
    • Use the sense of belonging “do people like me…”
    • Culture defines what’s likely and what’s not

Inducing change

  • Traction is created when people are in, and things get better with more people (a fax machine is more useful when other people have a fax machine)
  • Product goes either within a pattern (add offer) or need to change it
  • Change is induced by creating tension and releasing it with forward motion
    • Tension of being left out, of not knowing something, of being ashamed, “do people like me…”
  • Changing status
    • Status is relative to comparison, not absolute
    • Status gives comfort and satisfaction to people. It positions them
    • Status is an important reason of why people are doing things
    • People are trying to maintain status rather than changing it
    • People might want lower status to decrease pressure
    • Status is why shame is a working vector of change
    • Status perception inside someone’s head and from other people can be different.
    • Marketers need to make assumptions on what is in people’s heads based on their actions
      • People’s status can be inferred by how they behave
    • Status represents dominion and affiliation
      • Dominion is a way to get power and favors
      • Affiliation is being part of the pack
    • How the story will unfold

Marketing business plan

  • Facts - what do we know
  • Assertion - what do we want to change and how
  • Alternatives - what if we fail
  • People - what we are looking for in the people who will help drive the change
  • Money - how much do we need? Will we make?
  • → marketing is not “I have a product, how do I sell more”, marketing is about finding the way to induce the change we seek to make

Symbols and semiotics

  • Things can be represented by symbols
  • Symbols can be used to influence how people feel (strobes -> I’m at a concert)
  • Logo is deeply associated with brand, represents its identity


  • Enrolment is voluntary
  • Give extra attention to super users, they’re the one taking time to review your business


  • Can build a brand or advertise a specific product/event
  • Specific product/event is usually easy to track result
  • Brand building is more complex
  • You don’t have time to build your brand for everyone, build it for specifics
  • Keep ads consistent, repetition is how people remember


  • Tells something
    • “it is not for you”, “people like me”
    • Free doesn’t build trust
    • Free is great to spread ideas
    • Goes into the customers narrative. There is no rational reason to buy a Porsche Cayenne, but it builds the story
  • Making things cheaper doesn’t contribute to the story


  • Attention is a scarce resource
  • Get permission from your customers
    • Prove that you pay attention
    • Don’t steal people’s attention
    • Cherish that attention. If you build a distribution platform (podcast, blog, etc.) that links to your customers, it’s a priceless asset
  • If what you sell isn’t worth sharing, maybe change what you sell

Challenge your customers

  • Belong to the cohort
  • Helping them is helping you
  • Neophiliacs (who like new stuff) will help close the local gap
  • You need to keep adding value to your offer

The problem is not better advertising and better penetration. The problem is having a better offer.

  • If you bring more value than the cost you take, then it’s beautiful and works.
  • If your offer is less than your cost, and no-one is interested but you sell it thru dubious ways, then it’s basically stealing.
  • Don’t steal, offer change, and provide value

Is marketing evil?

  • Some marketers are evil. When you market cigarettes to kids, you’re evil
  • When your offer brings something to your customers, when you help propagate positive change, it’s beautiful.

About Reading Notes

These are my takes on this book. See other reading notes. Most of the time I stop taking notes on books I don't enjoy, and these end up not being in the list. This is why average ratings tend to be high.