Seth Godin’s early career as an author and an email marketer gave him incredible insight into the future of web marketing.
The content marketing community has provided a soapbox for those integral to the creation of content marketing. These marketers have not only pioneered the practice, but have used it to spread their own personal brand. Seth Godin is one of the best-known marketing gurus turned content creators. His early career and transition into a renowned blogger and marketing expert provides a wealth of insights and lessons for ambitious content creators. Here’s how he got there and what content marketers can learn from his journey.
Godin’s claim to fame was his early advocacy of “permission marketing” in the early age of the popularization of the Internet — the mid ’90s. Permission marketing is loosely defined as a marketing message that customers can chose to accept or reject — like opening a sales email — as opposed to what Godin describes as “interruption marketing,” where consumers are a captive audience, like TV or magazine advertisements.
He helped found a pioneering email marketing company called Yoyadyne in 1995 — used by high profile companies like AOL, Microsoft, Sony Music and American Express. He later sold the company to Yahoo! for nearly $30 million in 1998 and became Yahoo!’s Vice President of Direct Marketing. He left Yahoo! in 2000, and, in 2006, founded community blogging site Squidoo, which was recently acquired.
Godin’s background in marketing made him perfectly suited for the world of content creation. He established his reputation early in his early career by writing books and advocating for permission marketing, emphasizing that marketers need to offer consumers unique, interesting and relevant content to get attention. This is how he made his reputation and what content marketers can learn from his lengthy career:
Content Marketing Practice: Authorship
Good content marketing requires good writing. Long before the Internet became popularly used, Godin developed his writing skills as a marketing writer, beginning in 1987 with a book he co-authored with Chip Conley, titled Business Rules of Thumb. He went on to publish 16 more books.
The best content strategies leave room for experimentation and creativity. Godin demonstrated an enormous amount of originality and foresight when he helped found a direct email marketing company in 1995 — long before email marketing was understood.
Godin, like all great content creators, gain traction through persistent, quality blog posts. He began in 2002, writing a steady stream of updates and accumulating an astounding 531 pages of content.
Content marketing news generally focuses on trends. This inadvertently discourages content creators from sticking to a plan, for fear of being outdated. As social media become the holy grail of content marketing, Godin kept his his marketing focus simple: stick to the blog and use social media to compliment, not replace, his audience.
Delegate Responsibility When Necessary
Burnout and Fatigue are serious problems for marketing writers, as they often have numerous responsibilities outside of content production. Godin chose a small team of collaborators to help him create content he couldn’t by himself.
Active Offline Presence
Not all companies that engage in content marketing benefit from an offline marketing plan, but those that do should take notice of Godin’s commitment to traditional offline marketing. He has launched countless book tours and speaking events, making himself personally available for his followers.
Good design in content marketing both creates a welcoming atmosphere and leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Godin has made good use of simple visual branding, marketing himself and his message in orange and white color scheme; cleverly complimented by his trademark orange glasses.
See also: 99designs: How Our Designers Inspire Our Content Marketing [Interview]
Takeaway: Do Your Thing and Do it Well
By persistently focusing all his efforts to directly benefit his personal brand, Godin earned fame as a well-respected marketing expert. Close to 30 years after publishing his first book, he is still seen as an innovator, recently publishing a new book using donations from Kickstarter.
His story emphasizes the value of focus. Try to write to everyone as you’ll reach no one. Go along with every trend and you’ll lose what makes you unique. Instead, find your voice, be persistent and get creative — this will lead you to success.
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Image credit: Betsy Weber via Flickr.