While on my recent trip back home I was able to get in some book learnin.’ I took the time to finish up Seth Godin’s latest book, Meatball Sundae.
The ‘meatball’ represents traditional, boring products of decent quality made in mass quantities. These products have minimal differences thoughout their respective markets. Think meatballs or paper plates or floor mats or chalk.
They’re commodities, the basic building blocks of civilized society. We still very much need these things, says Seth.
And these meatballs worked very well with traditional advertising. If you are interrupted on enough occasions and reminded of why a particular brand of meatball is better than another, you will begin to believe it.
But meatballs do not work with the whipped cream and cherries of ‘New Marketing’ – the blogs and wikis and the rest of the shiny new “Internet stuff” we keep blathering about.
A meatball sundae represents a fundamental misalignment of creating ubiquitous, indifferent products and promoting it with the passion and creativity required of “New Marketing.” It just doesn’t work.
To be clear, Seth says we still need meatballs. We still need average products for the masses. But growth is becoming more and more difficult for boring products because people are responding less and less to old messages.
Instead, we’re wanting the complete full sundae.
Not just the marketing whipped cream – the blog, the Twitter presence and the Facebook profile. But the products and services being promoted must align with this strategy.
The good news: if you’re an existing company with products and services that resemble meatballs – all hope is not lost. But it requires commitment. It requires being nimble, making purple cows instead of brown cows and giving a damn.
My only qualm with Meatball Sundae is that like a lot of Seth’s work, it’s fairly high-level. I wouldn’t consider this a roadmap to give to someone in MKTG that “doesn’t get it.”
But that’s not to say there aren’t several solid case studies and plenty of reason for excitement about the potential power of emerging media coupled with unique products or services.
Of Seth’s examples, here’s my fav:
The Sick Puppies were a little known rock group out of Australia. They had no major-label promotion and no radio airplay. Then, a creative soul who calls himself Juan Mann made a video… The video has been watched more than 6 million times and turned the bands records from cutouts into bestsellers.