مرکزی صفحہ This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See
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Portfolio/Penguin An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC 375 Hudson Street New York, New York 10014 Copyright © 2018 by Seth Godin Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Godin, Seth, author. Title: This is marketing / Seth Godin. Description: New York : Portfolio/Penguin,  | Includes index. Identifiers: LCCN 2018041567 (print) | LCCN 2018042423 (ebook) | ISBN 9780525540847 (Ebook) | ISBN 9780525540830 (hardcover) Subjects: LCSH: Marketing. Classification: LCC HF5415 (ebook) | LCC HF5415 .G5783 2018 (print) | DDC 658.8--dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018041567 While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers, Internet addresses, and other contact information at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content. Version_1 For Leo, Anna, Mo, Sammy, Alex, Bernadette, and Shawn . . . And for all the fresh voices that make our lives better CONTENTS TITLE PAGE COPYRIGHT DEDICATION AUTHOR’S NOTE Chapter One Not Mass, Not Spam, Not Shameful . . . Chapter Two The Marketer Learns to See Chapter Three Marketing Changes People Through Stories, Connections, and Experience Chapter Four The Smallest Viable Market Chapter Five In Search of “Better” Chapter Six Be; yond Commodities Chapter Seven The Canvas of Dreams and Desires Chapter Eight More of the Who: Seeking the Smallest Viable Market Chapter Nine People Like Us Do Things Like This Chapter Ten Trust and Tension Create Forward Motion Chapter Eleven Status, Dominance, and Affiliation Chapter Twelve A Better Business Plan Chapter Thirteen Semiotics, Symbols, and Vernacular Chapter Fourteen Treat Different People Differently Chapter Fifteen Reaching the Right People Chapter Sixteen Price Is a Story Chapter Seventeen Permission and Remarkability in a Virtuous Cycle Chapter Eighteen Trust Is as Scarce as Attention Chapter Nineteen The Funnel Chapter Twenty Organizing and Leading a Tribe Chapter Twenty-One Some Case Studies Using the Method Chapter Twenty-Two Marketing Works, and Now It’s Your Turn Chapter Twenty-Three Marketing to the Most Important Person A MARKETING READING LIST A SIMPLE MARKETING WORKSHEET ACKNOWLEDGMENTS INDEX ABOUT THE AUTHOR [a sketch to show you what’s to come] Marketing is all around us. From your very first memories to the moment before you opened this book, you’ve been inundated by marketing. You learned to read from the logos on the side of the road, and you spend your time and your money in response to what marketers have paid to put in front of you. Marketing, more than a lake or a forest, is the landscape of our modern lives. Because marketing has been done to us for so long, we take it for granted. Like the fish who doesn’t understand water, we fail to see what’s actually happening, and don’t notice how it’s changing us. It’s time to do something else with marketing. To make things better. To cause a change you’d like to see in the world. To grow your project, sure, but mostly to serve the people you care about. The answer to just about every question about work is really the question, “Who can you help?” This is marketing Marketing seeks more. More market share, more customers, more work. Marketing is driven by better. Better service, better community, better outcomes. Marketing creates culture. Status, affiliation, and people like us. Most of all, marketing is change. Change the culture, change your world. Marketers make change happen. Each of us is a marketer, and each of us has the ability to make more change than we imagined. Our opportunity and our obligation is to do marketing that we’re proud of. How tall is your sunflower? That’s what most people seem to care about. How big a brand, how much market share, how many online followers. Too many marketers spend most of their time running a hype show, trying to get just a little bigger. The thing is, tall sunflowers have deep and complex root systems. Without them, they’d never get very high. This is a book about roots. About anchoring your work deeply in the dreams, desires, and communities of those you seek to serve. It’s about changing people for the better, creating work you can be proud of. And it’s about being a driver of the market, not simply being market-driven. We can do work that matters for people who care. If you’re like most of my readers, I don’t think you’d have it any other way. It’s not going to market itself The best ideas aren’t instantly embraced. Even the ice cream sundae and the stoplight took years to catch on. That’s because the best ideas require significant change. They fly in the face of the status quo, and inertia is a powerful force. Because there’s a lot of noise and a lot of distrust. Change is risky. And because we often want others to go first. Your most generous and insightful work needs help finding the people it’s meant to serve. And your most successful work will spread because you designed it to. Marketing isn’t just selling soap When you give a TED Talk, you’re marketing. When you ask your boss for a raise, you’re marketing. When you raise money for the local playground, you’re marketing. And yes, when you’re trying to grow your division at work, that’s marketing too. For a long time, during the days when marketing and advertising were the same thing, marketing was reserved for vice presidents with a budget. And now it’s for you. The market decides You’ve built something amazing. You have a living to make. Your boss wants more sales. That nonprofit you care about, an important one, needs to raise money. Your candidate is polling poorly. You want the boss to approve your project . . . Why isn’t it working? If creating is the point, if writing and painting and building are so fun, why do we even care if we’re found, recognized, published, broadcast, or otherwise commercialized? Marketing is the act of making change happen. Making is insufficient. You haven’t made an impact until you’ve changed someone. Changed the boss’s mind. Changed the school system. Changed demand for your product. You can do this by creating and then relieving tension. By establishing cultural norms. By seeing status roles and helping to change them (or maintain them). But first, you need to see it. Then you need to choose to work with human beings to help them find what they’re looking for. How to know if you have a marketing problem You aren’t busy enough. Your ideas aren’t spreading. The community around you isn’t what it could be. The people you care about aren’t achieving everything they hoped. Your politician needs more votes, your work isn’t fulfilling, your customers are frustrated . . . If you see a way to make things better, you now have a marketing problem. The answer to a movie Filmmaker and showrunner Brian Koppelman uses the expression “the answer to a movie,” as if a movie is a problem. But, of course, it is. It’s the problem of unlocking the viewer (or the producer, or the actor, or the director). To gain enrollment. To have them let you in. To get a chance to tell your story, and then, even better, to have that story make an impact. Just as a movie is a problem, so is the story of your marketing. It has to resonate with the listener, to tell them something they’ve been waiting to hear, something they’re open to believing. It has to invite them on a journey where a change might happen. And then, if you’ve opened all those doors, it has to solve the problem, to deliver on the promise. You have a marketing question, and it’s possible that there’s an answer. But only if you look for it. Marketing your work is a complaint on the way to better They say that the best way to complain is to make things better. It’s difficult to do that if you can’t spread the word, can’t share those ideas, or can’t get paid for the work you do. The first step on the path to make things better is to make better things. But better isn’t only up to you. Better can’t happen in a vacuum. Better is the change we see when the market embraces what we’re offering. Better is what happens when the culture absorbs our work and improves. Better is when we make the dreams of those we serve come true. Marketers make things better by making change happen. Sharing your path to better is called marketing, and you can do it. We all can. For more on the ideas in this book, please visit www.TheMarketingSeminar.com CHAPTER ONE Not Mass, Not Spam, Not Shameful . . . Marketing has changed, but our understanding of what we’re supposed to do next hasn’t kept up. When in doubt, we selfishly shout. When in a corner, we play small ball, stealing from our competition instead of broadening the market. When pressed, we assume that everyone is just like us, but uninformed. Mostly, we remember growing up in a mass market world, where TV and the Top 40 hits defined us. As marketers, we seek to repeat the old-fashioned tricks that don’t work anymore. The compass points toward trust Every three hundred thousand years or so, the north pole and the south pole switch places. The magnetic fields of the Earth flip. In our culture, it happens more often than that. And in the world of culture change, it just happened. The true north, the method that works best, has flipped. Instead of selfish mass, effective marketing now relies on empathy and service. In this book, we’re working together to solve a set of related problems. How to spread your ideas. How to make the impact you seek. How to improve the culture. There isn’t an obvious road map. No simple step-by-step series of tactics. But what I can promise you is a compass: a true north. A recursive method that will get better the more you use it. This book is based on a hundred-day seminar, one that involves not just lessons but peer-to-peer coaching around shared work. In TheMarketingSeminar.com we assemble thousands of marketers and challenge them to go deeper, to share their journey, to challenge each other to see what truly works. As you read through, don’t hesitate to backtrack, to redo an assumption, to question an existing practice—you can adjust, test, measure, and repeat. Marketing is one of our greatest callings. It’s the work of positive change. I’m thrilled that you’re on this journey, and I hope you’ll find the tools you need here. Marketing is not a battle, and it’s not a war, or even a contest Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem. It’s a chance to change the culture for the better. Marketing involves very little in the way of shouting, hustling, or coercion. It’s a chance to serve, instead. The internet is the first mass medium that wasn’t invented to make marketers happy. Television was invented to hold TV ads, and radio was invented to give radio ads a place to live. But the internet isn’t built around interruption and mass. It’s the largest medium, but it’s also the smallest one. There’s no mass, and you can’t steal attention for a penny the way your grandparents’ companies did. To be really clear: the internet feels like a vast, free media playground, a place where all your ideas deserve to be seen by just about everyone. In fact, it’s a billion tiny whispers, an endless series of selfish conversations that rarely include you or the work you do. The magic of ads is a trap that keeps us from building a useful story For a long time, the most efficient way for a commercial enterprise to make large-scale change was simple: buy ads. Ads worked. Ads were a bargain. Ads paid for themselves. Besides, they were fun to make. You could buy a lot all at once. They made you (or your brand) a little famous. And they were reliable: money spent equaled sales made. Is it any wonder that, pretty quickly, marketers decided that advertising was what they did? For most of my lifetime, marketing was advertising. And then it wasn’t true anymore. Which means you’ll need to become a marketer instead. That means seeing what others see. Building tension. Aligning with tribes. Creating ideas that spread. It means doing the hard work of becoming driven by the market and working with (your part of) that market. On getting the word out (precisely the wrong question) “How do I get the word out?” The SEO expert promises that you will be found when people search for you. The Facebook consultant tells you how to interrupt just the right people. The PR professional promises articles and mentions and profiles. And Don Draper, David Ogilvy, and the rest will trade your money for ads. Beautiful, sexy, effective ads. All to get the word out. But that’s not marketing, not anymore. And it doesn’t work, not anymore. We’re going to talk about how you’ll be discovered. But it’s the last part, not the first. Marketing is important enough to do right, which means doing the other part first. Shameless marketers brought shame to the rest of us A short-term, profit-maximizing hustler can easily adopt a shameless mind-set. Spamming, tricking, coercing. Is there any other profession that proudly does this? You won’t find civil engineers who call senior citizens in the middle of the night to sell them worthless collectible coins. You won’t hear of accountants who extract customers’ data without permission, or orchestra conductors who proudly post fake reviews online. This shameless pursuit of attention at the expense of the truth has driven many ethical and generous marketers to hide their best work, to feel shame about the prospect of being market-driven. That’s not okay. The other kind of marketing, the effective kind, is about understanding our customers’ worldview and desires so we can connect with them. It’s focused on being missed when you’re gone, on bringing more than people expect to those who trust us. It seeks volunteers, not victims. There’s a groundswell of people doing marketing because they know they can make things better. They’re prepared to engage with the market because they know they can contribute to our culture. People like you. The lock and the key It doesn’t make any sense to make a key and then run around looking for a lock to open. The only productive solution is to find a lock and then fashion a key. It’s easier to make products and services for the customers you seek to serve than it is to find customers for your products and services. Marketing doesn’t have to be selfish In fact, the best marketing never is. Marketing is the generous act of helping others become who they seek to become. It involves creating honest stories—stories that resonate and spread. Marketers offer solutions, opportunities for humans to solve their problems and move forward. And when our ideas spread, we change the culture. We build something that people would miss if it were gone, something that gives them meaning, connection, and possibility. The other kind of marketing—the hype, scams, and pressure—thrives on selfishness. I know that it doesn’t work in the long run, and that you can do better than that. We all can. Case Study: Penguin Magic Hocus has left the building. Penguin Magic is the sort of company that they invented the internet for. You may have grown up near a magic shop. There’s still one in my little town. Dimly lit, with fake wood paneling, almost certainly with the owner manning the counter. While he may have loved the work, he certainly wasn’t very successful. Today, if you care about magic, you know about Penguin Magic. It’s not the Amazon of magic tricks (because being the Amazon of anything is difficult indeed). Instead, it has grown to significant size by being very different from Amazon and by understanding precisely what its audience wants, knows, and believes. First, every trick for sale on the site is demonstrated with a video. That video, of course, doesn’t reveal how the trick is done, so tension is created. If you want to know the secret, you’ll need to buy the trick. To date, their videos, on the site and on YouTube, have been seen more than a billion times. A billion views with no cost of distribution. Second, the people who run the site realized that professional magicians rarely buy tricks, because they only need ten or twenty regular tricks in their bag. Since the audience changes every night, they don’t worry about repeating themselves. An amateur, on the other hand, always has the same audience (friends and family) and so he’s hooked on constantly changing the routine. Third, every trick is reviewed in detail. Not reviewed by the knuckleheads who hang out on Yelp or Amazon, but reviewed by other magicians. It’s a tough crowd, but one that appreciates good work. There are more than eighty-two thousand product reviews on the site. As a result, the quality of stock on Penguin cycles very rapidly. Creators see their competitors’ work immediately, giving them an impetus to make something even better. Instead of a production cycle measured in years, it might take only a month for an idea to go from notion to product on Penguin. To date, they’ve carried more than sixteen thousand different items on their site. Going forward, Penguin continues to invest in building connections not just with the community (they have an email list of tens of thousands of customers) but across it as well. They’ve hosted three hundred lectures, which have become the TED Talks of magic, as well as going into the field and running nearly a hundred live conventions. The more magicians learn from each other, the more likely that Penguin will do well. You’re not a cigar-smoking fat cat You don’t work for a soap company. You’re not an obsolete industrial marketer. So why are you acting like one? Your Kickstarter is nearing its deadline, so sure, you have a good excuse to spam every “influencer” you know, begging for a link. But they ignore you. You work for a content marketing company, and you obsessively track how many clicks your articles get, even though the crap you write embarrasses you. You make graphs of how many Instagram followers you have, even though you know everyone else simply buys followers. You lower your price because people tell you your rates are too high, but it doesn’t seem to help. It’s all the same old thing—the industrialized selfish same-old, made modern for a new generation. Your emergency is not a license to steal my attention. Your insecurity is not a permit to hustle me or my friends. There’s a more effective way. You can do it. It’s not easy, but the steps are well lit. It’s time Time to get off the social media merry-go-round that goes faster and faster but never gets anywhere. Time to stop hustling and interrupting. Time to stop spamming and pretending you’re welcome. Time to stop making average stuff for average people while hoping you can charge more than a commodity price. Time to stop begging people to become your clients, and time to stop feeling bad about charging for your work. Time to stop looking for shortcuts, and time to start insisting on a long, viable path instead. CHAPTER TWO The Marketer Learns to See In 1983, I was a very young and inexperienced brand manager at Spinnaker, the startup software company I joined after business school. Suddenly, I had millions of dollars in my budget, fancy lunches with ad reps that I didn’t ask for, and an urgent need: to get the word out about the software my amazing team had created. I wasted all that ad money. The ads didn’t work because the ads were ignored. Somehow, though, the software sold. Over the years, I’ve launched dozens and dozens of projects and sold goods and services to businesses and individuals. I’ve worked with Jay Levinson, the father of Guerrilla Marketing, with Lester Wunderman, the godfather of direct mail, and Bernadette Jiwa, the doyenne of storytelling. My ideas have built billion-dollar companies and raised nearly that much for important charities. Mostly, the journey has involved noticing what works and trying to understand what doesn’t. It’s been an ongoing experiment of trial and error (mostly error) with projects and organizations I care about. And now I have a compass for what marketing is today, about the human condition, and about our culture. This approach is simple, but it’s not easy to embrace, because it involves patience, empathy, and respect. The marketing that has suffused our entire lives is not the marketing that you want to do. The shortcuts using money to buy attention to sell average stuff to average people are an artifact of another time, not the one we live in now. You can learn to see how human beings dream, decide, and act. And if you help them become better versions of themselves, the ones they seek to be, you’re a marketer. Marketing in five steps The first step is to invent a thing worth making, with a story worth telling, and a contribution worth talking about. The second step is to design and build it in a way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about. The third step is to tell a story that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of that tiny group of people, the smallest viable market. The fourth step is the one everyone gets excited about: spread the word. The last step is often overlooked: show up—regularly, consistently, and generously, for years and years—to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make. To earn permission to follow up and to earn enrollment to teach. As marketers, we get to consistently do the work to help the idea spread from person to person, engaging a tribe as you make change happen. This Is Marketing: An executive summary Ideas that spread, win. Marketers make change happen: for the smallest viable market, and by delivering anticipated, personal, and relevant messages that people actually want to get. Marketers don’t use consumers to solve their company’s problem; they use marketing to solve other people’s problems. They have the empathy to know that those they seek to serve don’t want what the marketer wants, don’t believe what they believe, and don’t care about what they care about. They probably never will. At the heart of our culture is our belief in status, in our self-perceived understanding of our role in any interaction, in where we’re going next. We use status roles and our decisions about affiliation and dominion to decide where to go and how to get there. Persistent, consistent, and frequent stories, delivered to an aligned audience, will earn attention, trust, and action. Direct marketing is not the same as brand marketing, but they are both based on our decision to make the right thing for the right people. “People like us do things like this” is how each of us understands culture, and marketers engage with this idea every day. Ideas move through a slope. They skate through the early adopters, leap through a chasm, and slog their way to the masses. Sometimes. Attention is a precious resource since our brains are cluttered with noise. Smart marketers make it easy for those they seek to work with, by helping position the offering in a way that resonates and is memorable. Most of all, marketing begins (and often ends) with what we do and how we do it, not in all the stuff that comes after the thing is designed and shipped. Your tactics can make a difference, but your strategy—your commitment to a way of being and a story to be told and a promise to be made—can change everything. If you want to make change, begin by making culture. Begin by organizing a tightly knit group. Begin by getting people in sync. Culture beats strategy—so much that culture is strategy. Things marketers know Committed, creative people can change the world (in fact, they’re the only ones who do). You can do it right now, and you can make more change than you can possibly imagine. You cannot change everyone; therefore, asking, “Who’s it for?” can focus your actions and help you deal with the nonbelievers (in your head and in the outside world). Change is best made with intent. “What’s it for?” is the posture of work that matters. Human beings tell themselves stories. Those stories, as far as each of us is concerned, are completely and totally true, and it’s foolish to try to persuade them (or us) otherwise. We can group people into stereotyped groups that often (but not always) tell themselves similar stories, groups that make similar decisions based on their perceived status and other needs. What you say isn’t nearly as important as what others say about you. CHAPTER THREE Marketing Changes People Through Stories, Connections, and Experience Case Study: VisionSpring—Selling glasses to people who need them Each person has a story in his or her head, a narrative used to navigate the world. The extraordinary thing is that every person’s narrative is different. A few years ago, I went with a small team to a village in India, trying to understand the challenges that VisionSpring faces in their work. VisionSpring is a social enterprise that works to get reading glasses to the billion people around the world who need them but don’t have them. When the typical person only lived to thirty or forty years of age, it didn’t matter that most people will need reading glasses beginning at age fifty. But as lifespans have increased, more and more people find themselves otherwise healthy and active but unable to work—because they can’t read or do close-up work. If you’re a weaver or a jeweler or a nurse, working without glasses can be impossible. VisionSpring’s strategy is to produce attractive glasses in bulk at a very low cost, perhaps two dollars a pair. And then, working with local traveling salespeople, they bring the glasses to villages around the world, where they sell them for three dollars or so a pair. The one-dollar difference between the manufacturing cost and the price is just enough to pay for shipping, for local talent, and for the organization to keep growing. When we set up our table in the village, many people came to see what was going on. It was the middle of a very hot day and there wasn’t much else to do. The men were wearing traditional Indian work shirts, embroidered, each with a pocket on the front. I could see through the sheer fabric that just about everyone had rupees in their pockets. So now I knew three things: Based on their age, many of these folks needed glasses. That’s simple biology. Many of them weren’t wearing or carrying glasses, so they probably didn’t own a pair. And most of the people milling around had some money in their pocket. While the glasses might be expensive for someone who only made three dollars a day, each person had access to cash. One by one, as the villagers came up to our table, we handed each of them a laminated sheet with an eye test on it. The test was set up so that it even worked for people who didn’t know how to read, regardless of which languages they spoke. Then, the villager with the laminated sheet was offered a pair of sample glasses and took the test again. Right there, instantly, he or she could see perfectly. That’s how glasses work. It wasn’t a new technology for these men and women, or an untrusted one. After that, the sample glasses were removed and set aside, and the customer was given a mirror and offered a choice of ten different styles. Each was brand new, wrapped in little plastic sleeves. About a third of the people who had come to the table and needed glasses actually bought a pair. A third. This mystified me. I was stunned that 65 percent of the people who needed glasses, who knew they needed glasses, and had money to buy glasses would just walk way. Putting myself in their shoes, I couldn’t imagine making this choice. The supply of glasses was going to disappear in an hour. The price was amazing. The trusted technology worked. What were we doing wrong? I sat in the sun for an hour, thinking hard about this problem. I felt like all my work as a marketer had led me to this moment. So I changed just one thing about the process. One thing that doubled the percentage of glasses sold. Here’s what I did: I took all the glasses off the table. For the rest of the people in line, after they put on the sample glasses, we said, “Here are your new glasses. If they work and you like them, please pay us three dollars. If you don’t want them, please give them back.” That’s it. We changed the story from “Here’s an opportunity to shop, to look good, to regain your sight, to enjoy the process, to feel ownership from beginning to end” to “Do you want us to take away what you have, or do you want to pay to keep the glasses that are already working for you?” Desire for gain versus avoidance of loss. If you’ve been living in abject poverty, it’s hard to imagine the pleasure that more fortunate people take in shopping. To feel the thrill of buying something never bought before. To go shopping is to take a risk. We risk time and money looking for a new thing, a thing that might be great. And we’re able to take that risk because being wrong isn’t fatal. Being wrong doesn’t cost dinner or a medical checkup. And if we’re wrong, not only will we live another day, but we’ll get right back to shopping tomorrow. On the other hand, with the realization that maybe others didn’t think about shopping the way I did, or the way Western opticians did, I saw things differently. Maybe the people we were trying to serve saw shopping for something new as a threat, not as a fun activity. Most teenagers at the typical suburban mall would bristle at the idea that they didn’t get to try on all the glasses, that they didn’t get a choice in the matter. Most of us wouldn’t want a pair of used glasses; we’d want the fancy new ones. Even if “used” simply meant tried on once before. But it’s not helpful to imagine that everyone knows what you know, wants what you want, believes what you believe. My narrative about how to buy glasses isn’t better or worse than the one the next villager in line had. My narrative is simply my narrative, and if it’s not working, it’s arrogant to insist on it. The way we make things better is by caring enough about those we serve to imagine the story that they need to hear. We need to be generous enough to share that story, so they can take action that they’ll be proud of. Consider the SUV Most people reading this book don’t market cars. But most of us have bought one. The question to ponder is: Why did you buy the one you bought? Why do people who will never drive off-road buy a ninety thousand-dollar Toyota Land Cruiser? Why pay extra for the Ludicrous Mode on a Tesla if you never expect (or need) it to go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds? Why put a three thousand-dollar stereo in your car if you only listen to a thirty-dollar clock radio at home? Even more puzzling: the most popular color for cars varies by the kind of car being purchased. If we’re unwilling to make utility the primary driver of our decisions when buying a fifty thousand-dollar vehicle, what chance does a bottle of perfume or a stick of gum have? Marketing isn’t a race to add more features for less money. Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us. That riff about the quarter-inch drill bit Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt famously said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole.” The lesson is that the drill bit is merely a feature, a means to an end, but what people truly want is the hole it makes. But that doesn’t go nearly far enough. No one wants a hole. What people want is the shelf that will go on the wall once they drill the hole. Actually, what they want is how they’ll feel once they see how uncluttered everything is, when they put their stuff on the shelf that went on the wall, now that there’s a quarter-inch hole. But wait . . . They also want the satisfaction of knowing they did it themselves. Or perhaps the increase in status they’ll get when their spouse admires the work. Or the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the bedroom isn’t a mess, and that it feels safe and clean. “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want to feel safe and respected.” Bingo. People don’t want what you make They want what it will do for them. They want the way it will make them feel. And there aren’t that many feelings to choose from. In essence, most marketers deliver the same feelings. We just do it in different ways, with different services, products, and stories. And we do it for different people in different moments. If you can bring someone belonging, connection, peace of mind, status, or one of the other most desired emotions, you’ve done something worthwhile. The thing you sell is simply a road to achieve those emotions, and we let everyone down when we focus on the tactics, not the outcomes. Who’s it for and what’s it for are the two questions that guide all of our decisions. Stories, connections, and experiences The good news is that we don’t need to rely on the shiniest, latest digital media shortcut—we have even more powerful, nuanced, and timeless tools at our disposal. We tell stories. Stories that resonate and hold up over time. Stories that are true, because we made them true with our actions and our products and our services. We make connections. Humans are lonely, and they want to be seen and known. People want to be part of something. It’s safer that way, and often more fun. We create experiences. Using a product, engaging with a service. Making a donation, going to a rally, calling customer service. Each of these actions is part of the story; each builds a little bit of our connection. As marketers, we can offer these experiences with intent, doing them on purpose. The entire organization works for and with the marketer, because marketing is all of it. What we make, how we make it, who we make it for. It is the effects and the side effects, the pricing and the profit, all at once. Market-driven: Who’s driving the bus? Every organization—every project—is influenced by a primary driving force. Some restaurants are chef-driven. Silicon Valley is often tech-driven. Investment firms in New York are money-driven, focused on the share price or the latest financial manipulation. The driver, whichever one you choose, is the voice that gets heard the clearest, and the person with that voice is the one who gets to sit at the head of the table. Often, organizations are marketing-driven. They’re slick, focused on the offer, the surface shine, the ability to squeeze out one more dollar. I’m not really interested in helping you become marketing-driven, because it’s a dead end. The alternative is to be market-driven—to hear the market, to listen to it, and even more important, to influence it, to bend it, to make it better. When you’re marketing-driven, you’re focused on the latest Facebook data hacks, the design of your new logo, and your Canadian pricing model. On the other hand, when you’re market-driven, you think a lot about the hopes and dreams of your customers and their friends. You listen to their frustrations and invest in changing the culture. Being market-driven lasts. The myth of rational choice Microeconomics is based on a demonstrably false assertion: “The rational agent is assumed to take account of available information, probabilities of events, and potential costs and benefits in determining preferences, and to act consistently in choosing the self-determined best choice of action,” says Wikipedia. Of course not. Perhaps if we average up a large enough group of people, it’s possible that in some ways, on average, we might see glimmers of this behavior. But it’s not something I’d want you to bet on. In fact, the bet you’d be better off making is: “When in doubt, assume that people will act according to their current irrational urges, ignoring information that runs counter to their beliefs, trading long-term for short-term benefits and most of all, being influenced by the culture they identify with.” You can make two mistakes here: Assume that the people you’re seeking to serve are well-informed, rational, independent, long-term choice makers. Assume that everyone is like you, knows what you know, wants what you want. I’m not rational and neither are you. CHAPTER FOUR The Smallest Viable Market What change are you trying to make? It’s a simple question, but a loaded one, because it implies that you’re responsible. You are an actor with intent, an agent of change, a human being working hard to change other human beings. It might be your job, it might be your passion, and if you’re lucky, it might even be both. The change might be trivial (“I’m trying to make the market share of OZO brand laundry soap go up 1 percent, and to do that, I need to change some Clorox users to OZO users”) or it might be profound (“I’m trying to help the twelve kids in my after-school program realize that they have more potential and skill than the world tells them that they do”). Perhaps it’s “I’m going to turn nonvoters into voters,” or “I’m going to transform people who seek to dominate into ones who desire affiliation instead.” Regardless of what the specifics are, if you’re a marketer, you’re in the business of making change happen. Denying this is a form of hiding; it’s more productive to own it instead. Stumble 1: It’s tempting to pick a grandiose, nearly impossible change: “I want to change the face of music education and make it a top priority across the country.” Well, sure, that’s great, but it’s never been done before, not by someone with your resources. I’m a huge fan of game-changing home runs. I love the inspiring stories of people who beat all the odds and changed everything. But . . . That’s a heavy burden, as well as a convenient excuse in moments of despair. It’s no wonder that you’re stuck—you’re seeking to do the impossible. Perhaps it makes more sense to begin with a hurdle you can leap. Perhaps it makes sense to be very specific about the change you seek to make, and to make it happen. Then, based on that success, you can replicate the process on ever bigger challenges. Stumble 2: You want to defend what you’re already doing, which is selling what you’ve already been charged with selling. So you reverse-engineer a “change” that matches that thing, and you load it up with buzzwords that mean nothing to anyone. Here’s one I just found: “Activation and engagement for TNT’s new thriller that makes a meta-statement about viewer identity.” Really? On the other hand, here’s an example from By the Way Bakery, which my wife founded. It’s the largest gluten-free bakery of its kind in the world. Their change? “We want to make sure no one is left out. By offering people gluten-free, dairy-free, and kosher baked goods that happen to be delicious, we let the entire community be part of special family occasions. We change hosts from exclusive to inclusive, and guests from outsiders to insiders.” What promise are you making? When the marketer shows up with his or her message (in whatever medium), it always takes the form of a promise: “If you do X, you will get Y.” That promise is often hidden. It can accidentally be set aside or intentionally camouflaged, but all effective marketing makes a promise. The promise isn’t the same as a guarantee. It’s more like, “If this works for you, you’re going to discover . . .” And so we can invite people to our jazz club to have more than a pleasant evening. Or promise that if they listen to our tapes, they’ll begin a spiritual journey. Or that our special kind of cheese will transport them to Old Italy . . . We’re not talking about slogans here, but these slogans give you an insight into the kind of promise I’m talking about. “They laughed when I sat down at the piano . . . but when I began to play . . .” is a promise about status. “Roll Tide!” is a promise about dominance. “Choosy mothers choose Jif,” is a promise about status and respect. “I pledge allegiance . . .” is a promise about belonging. “The Earth needs a good lawyer” is a promise about affiliation and justice. Your promise is directly connected to the change you seek to make, and it’s addressed to the people you seek to change. Who are you seeking to change? As soon as you ask yourself about the change you seek to make, it becomes quite clear that you have no chance of changing everyone. Everyone is a lot of people. Everyone is too diverse, too enormous, and too indifferent for you to have a chance at changing. So, you need to change someone. Or perhaps a group of someones. Which ones? We don’t care if they all look the same, but it would be really helpful if you had some way to group them together. Do they share a belief? A geography? A demographic, or, more likely, a psychographic? Can you pick them out of a crowd? What makes them different from everyone else and similar to each other? Throughout this book, we’ll return to this essential question: “Who’s it for?” It has a subtle but magic power, the ability to shift the product you make, the story you tell, and where you tell it. Once you’re clear on “who it’s for,” then doors begin to open for you. Here’s a simple example. Both Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks sell coffee. But for the first two decades of its existence, Starbucks didn’t try to sell coffee to people who bought from Dunkin’, and vice versa. While there are external hints about the two groups (in Boston, you would find more taxi drivers and construction workers at a typical Dunkin’ Donuts than you would at a Starbucks) the real distinction wasn’t external but internal. Starbucks set out to serve someone with a very precise set of beliefs about coffee, time, money, community, opportunity, and luxury—and by obsessing over this group of someones, Starbucks built a brand for the ages. Worldviews and personas But which market? Which people? If you have to choose a thousand people to become your true fans, who should you choose? Begin by choosing people based on what they dream of, believe, and want, not based on what they look like. In other words, use psychographics instead of demographics. Just as you can group people by the color of their eyes or the length of their ring fingers, you can group them based on the stories they tell themselves. Cognitive linguist George Lakoff calls these clumps worldviews. A worldview is the shortcut, the lens each of us uses when we see the world. It’s our assumptions and biases and yes, stereotypes about the world around us. Loyal Fox News viewers have a worldview. So do fox hunters. So do people who show up at the midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Everyone deserves to be treated as an individual, with dignity and respect for their choices. But as marketers, we must begin with a worldview, and invite people who share that worldview to join us. “I made this” is a very different statement than, “What do you want?” We can make pretty good assumptions about how someone will react or respond to a piece of news or a work of art if we have evidence about their worldview. When Ron Johnson was hired as CEO of JCPenney in 2011, one of his first acts was to end the constant stream of discounts and urgent sales that the store was always pitching to its customers. Johnson took that action based on his worldview, on his bias about how to shop. He didn’t think it was possible that a quality retailer, a store he’d like to shop in, would be constantly pitching clearances, coupons, and discounts, and so he tried to transform JCPenney into his kind of store. As a result, sales plummeted by more than 50 percent. Coming from his previous position as senior vice president of retail operations at Apple, Johnson saw the world of retail through a lens of elegance, of quiet, mutual respect. He was a luxury goods buyer, and he liked selling luxury goods as well. As a result of his worldview, he abandoned Penney’s true fans: people who loved the sport of bargain hunting. Or the urgency. People whose worldviews differed from his. Penney’s customers were playing a game, one that made them feel like they were winning. Yes, we’re typecasting—willfully exaggerating people’s attitudes and beliefs in order to serve them better. A convenient shortcut in this exercise is to identify the different personas we might encounter. There’s Bargain Bill, who’s playing a sport when he shops at the same time he wrestles with his narrative about money. And there’s Hurried Henry, who is always looking for a shortcut and is rarely willing to wait in line, read the directions, or think it through, at least not when he’s traveling for business. Next to him in line, though, is Careful Karla, who’s suspicious of the cab driver, sure that she’s going to get ripped off by the desk clerk, and would never drink out of the hotel mini bar. Everyone has a problem, a desire, and a narrative. Who will you seek to serve? Forcing a focus The relentless pursuit of mass will make you boring, because mass means average, it means the center of the curve, it requires you to offend no one and satisfy everyone. It will lead to compromises and generalizations. Begin instead with the smallest viable market. What’s the minimum number of people you would need to influence to make it worth the effort? If you could only change thirty people, or three thousand people, you’d want to be choosy about which people. If you were limited in scale, you’d focus your energy on the makeup of the market instead. When the Union Square Cafe opened in New York, its founder, Danny Meyer, knew that he could only serve six hundred people a day. That’s all the dining room could serve. If you can only delight six hundred people, the best way to begin is by choosing which six hundred people. Choose the people who want what you’re offering. Choose the people most open to hearing your message. Choose the people who will tell the right other people . . . The magic of Union Square Cafe wasn’t the real estate (it was in a lousy neighborhood when it opened) or in the famous chef (they didn’t have one). No, the magic was in the guts it took to carefully curate the customers. Choose the people you serve, choose your future. The smallest viable market is the focus that, ironically and delightfully, leads to your growth. Specific is a kind of bravery Specific means accountable. It worked or it didn’t. It matched or it didn’t. It spread or it didn’t. Are you hiding behind everyone or anyone? You’ll never be able to serve everyone, which is comforting, since you’re less likely to be disappointed when it doesn’t happen. But what if you committed to the smallest viable audience? What if you were specific about who you were seeking to serve and precisely what change you were trying to make? Organize your project, your life, and your organization around the minimum. What’s the smallest market you can survive on? Once you’ve identified the scale, then find a corner of the market that can’t wait for your attention. Go to their extremes. Find a position on the map where you, and you alone, are the perfect answer. Overwhelm this group’s wants and dreams and desires with your care, your attention, and your focus. Make change happen. Change that’s so profound, people can’t help but talk about it. Lean entrepreneurship is built around the idea of the minimal viable product. Figure out the simplest useful version of your product, engage with the market, and then improve and repeat. What people miss about this idea is the word viable. No fair shipping junk. It doesn’t help to release something that doesn’t work yet. When we combine these ideas, we can think small and think quickly. Our agile approach to the market combined with a relentless focus on those we seek to serve means that we’re more likely to be of service. Entrepreneur and Silicon Valley pioneer Steve Blank introduced a focus on the customer as the only project of a startup. Customer development is the act of gaining traction with customers, of finding a fit between what you make and what they want. This traction is worth far more than fancy technology or expensive marketing. That, and only that, separates successful projects from unsuccessful ones. Are there people in the world who want you to succeed so badly that they’re willing to pay you to produce the change you seek to make? Everything gets easier when you walk away from the hubris of everyone. Your work is not for everyone. It’s only for those who signed up for the journey. Shun the nonbelievers! There’s a filter bubble. It’s easy to surround ourselves with nothing but news we agree with. We can spend our days believing that everyone shares our worldview, believes what we believe, and wants what we want. Until we start marketing to the masses. When we seek to serve the largest possible audience, that audience will turn us down. The chorus of “no” will become deafening. And the feedback may be direct, personal, and specific. In the face of so much rejection, it’s easy to sand off the edges and fit in. Fit in all the way. Fit in more than anyone else. Resist. It’s not for them. It’s for the smallest viable audience, the folks you originally set out to serve. Where does love lie? Pioneering technology journalist Clay Shirky understood how community-driven software changes everything: “We have lived in this world where little things are done for love and big things for money. Now we have Wikipedia. Suddenly big things can be done for love.” But it doesn’t end with software. The goal of the smallest viable audience is to find people who will understand you and will fall in love with where you hope to take them. Loving you is a way of expressing themselves. Becoming part of your movement is an expression of who they are. That love leads to traction, to engagement, and to evangelism. That love becomes part of their identity, a chance to do something that feels right. To express themselves through their contributions, their actions, and the badge they wear. You can’t hope that everyone will feel this way, but you can do your work for the people who do. “Winner take all” rarely is Even in a democracy, a situation where second place rarely pays off, the idea of “everyone” is a mistake. I was talking with two congressional campaign organizers, and they kept talking about getting the message out to everyone, connecting with everyone, getting everyone to the polls. I did a little research and discovered that in the last primary in that district, only twenty thousand people voted, which means that in a contested primary, getting five thousand people to the polls is the difference between winning and losing. The district has 724,000 residents; five thousand people is less than 1 percent of that. There’s a very big difference between five thousand and “everyone.” And for your work, five thousand of the right people might well be more than enough. A simple one-word transformation Now that you see that your work is to make change, and that you can do it by identifying who you want to change, earning enrollment, and educating on the way to that change, let’s transform how you can describe those you’re changing. Perhaps instead of talking about prospects and customers, we could call them your “students” instead. Where are your students? What will they benefit from learning? Are they open to being taught? What will they tell others? This isn’t the student–teacher relationship of testing and compliance. And it’s not the power dynamic of sexism or racism. It’s the student–mentor relationship of enrollment and choice and care. If you had a chance to teach us, what would we learn? If you had a chance to learn, what would you like to be taught? Coloring the ocean purple There’s a dangerous prank that relies on thief-detector dye. This dye, sold as a powder, is quite bright and a tiny bit goes a long way. Once the powder touches the moisture on your skin, it blooms into a bright purple and won’t easily wash off. Drop a teaspoon of it into a swimming pool, and all the water in the pool will become permanently bright purple. But if you drop it in the ocean, no one will notice. When you seek to share your best work—your best story, your shot at change—it helps if it’s likely to spread. It helps if it’s permanent. But even if it’s extraordinary, it’s not going to make a difference if you drop it in the ocean. That doesn’t mean you give up hope. It means you walk away from the ocean and look for a large swimming pool. That’s enough to make a difference. Begin there, with obsessive focus. Once it works, find another swimming pool. Even better, let your best customers spread the idea. “It’s not for you” We’re not supposed to say that. We’re certainly not supposed to want to say that. But we must. “It’s not for you” shows the ability to respect someone enough that you’re not going to waste their time, pander to them, or insist that they change their beliefs. It shows respect for those you seek to serve, to say to them, “I made this for you. Not for the other folks, but for you.” Two sides of the same coin. It’s the freedom to ignore the critics who don’t get the joke, the privilege of polishing your story for those that most need to hear it. . . . This is where you will find work that you can be proud of. Because it doesn’t matter what people you’re not seeking to serve think. What matters is whether you’ve changed the people who trust you, the people who have connected with you, the people you seek to serve. We know that every best-selling book on Amazon has at least a few one-star reviews. It’s impossible to create work that both matters and pleases everyone. The comedian’s dilemma One of the great comics of our time is booked for a gig in New York City. His agent isn’t paying attention, though. The comic shows up at the club; he’s in a good mood. He brings his best material. He’s up there, working the room, and no one is laughing. Not a peep. He’s bombing. After the show, he’s beating himself up, thinking of quitting comedy altogether. Then he discovers that the audience is an Italian tour group, and no one understands English. “It’s not for you.” It’s entirely possible that your work isn’t as good as it needs to be. But it’s also possible that you failed to be clear about who it was for in the first place. The simple marketing promise Here’s a template, a three-sentence marketing promise you can run with: My product is for people who believe _________________. I will focus on people who want _________________. I promise that engaging with what I make will help you get _________________. And you thought that all you were here to do was sell soap. Case Study: The Open Heart Project Susan Piver was a respected teacher of meditation. She had written a New York Times best-selling book, and her classes were well attended. She, like many before her, had a practice and a small following. What she found, though, was that after a retreat, people from out of town would ask, “How do we find a local teacher we can connect with to continue our practice?” To meet this need, she decided to build an online meditation center, a sangha. A few years later, the sangha has more than twenty thousand members. Most of them get periodic updates and video lessons, and pay nothing for the interactions. Some, though, are more deeply connected. They pay a subscription fee and engage with their teacher (and with each other) as often as every day. How did she get to twenty thousand? Not in one fell swoop. In thousands of small swoops. After just a few years, this small project has become the largest meditation community in the world. With just one full-time staff member, it connects and inspires thousands of people. There are countless meditation instructors in the United States, all of whom have access to a laptop as connected to the world as Susan’s is. How did the Open Heart Project make such an impact? Start with empathy to see a real need. Not an invented one, not “How can I start a business?” but, “What would matter here?” Focus on the smallest viable market: “How few people could find this indispensable and still make it worth doing?” Match the worldview of the people being served. Show up in the world with a story that they want to hear, told in a language they’re eager to understand. Make it easy to spread. If every member brings in one more member, within a few years, you’ll have more members than you can count. Earn, and keep, the attention and trust of those you serve. Offer ways to go deeper. Instead of looking for members for your work, look for ways to do work for your members. At every step along the way, create and relieve tension as people progress in their journeys toward their goals. Show up, often. Do it with humility, and focus on the parts that work. CHAPTER FIVE In Search of “Better” The Beer Advocate website lists 250 beers that have earned more than 3,400 ratings each. Each beer is someone’s favorite. It’s possible that there are thousands of beers in the United States that are someone’s favorite. How can that be? Because taste matters. Everyone else is wrong. When a marketer arrives and says, “This is better,” he’s wrong. He actually means, “This is better for someone and it might be better for you.” Empathy is at the heart of marketing People don’t believe what you believe. They don’t know what you know. They don’t want what you want. It’s true, but we’d rather not accept this. Sonder is defined as that moment when you realize that everyone around you has an internal life as rich and as conflicted as yours. Everyone has noise in their heads. Everyone thinks that they are right, and that they have suffered affronts and disrespect at the hands of others. Everyone is afraid. And everyone realizes that they are also lucky. Everyone has an impulse to make things better, to connect and to contribute. Everyone wants something that they can’t possibly have. And if they could have it, they’d discover that they didn’t really want it all along. Everyone is lonely, insecure, and a bit of a fraud. And everyone cares about something. As a marketer, then, we have little chance of doing marketing to others, in insisting that they get with our program, that they realize how hard we’ve worked, how loud the noise is in our heads, how important our cause is . . . It’s so much more productive to dance with them instead. A million-dollar bargain Consider the plight of the nonprofit fundraiser. She’s trying to raise a million dollars to pay for a new building on campus. Every time she’s meeting with a foundation or a philanthropist and an objection is raised, she says to herself, “You’re right, that’s a crazy amount of money. I’d never give a million dollars to charity—I have enough trouble paying my rent.” And so the donation doesn’t get made. Empathy changes this dynamic. Because the donation isn’t for her, it’s for the donor. It’s for the donor who says to himself, “This million-dollar donation is a bargain. I’m going to get at least two million dollars’ worth of joy, status, and satisfaction out of this decision.” And that’s okay. It’s the way choice works. Everything that we purchase—every investment, every trinket, every experience—is a bargain. That’s why we bought it. Because it was worth more than what we paid for it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t buy it. Which means, going back to the hapless fundraiser, that if you’re unwilling to have empathy for the narrative of the person you seek to serve, you’re stealing. You’re stealing because you’re withholding a valuable option. You’re keeping someone from understanding how much they’ll benefit from what you’ve created . . . such a significant benefit that it’s a bargain. If they understand what’s on offer and choose not to buy it, then it’s not for them. Not today, not at this price, not with that structure. That’s okay too. Thinking about “better” It’s tempting to decide that there’s a transitive relationship, that A > B > C. This works, for example, with length. A ruler is longer than a thumb and a thumb is longer than a peppercorn, and therefore a ruler is longer than a peppercorn. But linear comparisons don’t make sense when we’re building stories and opportunities for humans. An Hermès bag is more expensive than a Louis Vuitton bag, which is more expensive than one from Coach. But that doesn’t mean that the Hermès bag is “better.” It merely means that it’s more expensive, which is just one of the many things that someone might care about. Expense might be easy to measure, but it’s never clear that more of it is always better. What about more subjective categories like “stylish” or “fashionable” or “status”? Suddenly, it’s not linear. Not easy to measure. Not clear at all what better means. Better isn’t up to you There are more than 250 models of motorcycles available for sale in Cleveland. Can you name them? No one can, not even a motorcycle collector. And the same thing is true for ketchup, for insurance brokers, for churches. So, how do we process this, remember this, choose a product? We remember the best one. Best for what? And that’s the key question. Best for us. If we care about sustainability and price, then our brain has a slot for our favorite brand, and it’s the one that’s the best at sustainability and price. No surprise. But our neighbor, the one who cares far more about status within the group and luxury, has a very different brand in mind. Which is not surprising, because we’re humans, not machines. Your job as a marketer is to find a spot on the map with edges that (some) people want to find. Not a selfish, unique selling proposition, done to maximize your market share, but a generous beacon, a signal flare sent up so that people who are looking for you can easily find you. We’re this, not that. The marketing of dog food Dog food must be getting better. More nutritious and of course, delicious. Americans spent more than twenty-four billion dollars on dog food last year. The average price has skyrocketed, and so has the gourmet nature of ingredients, like sweet potatoes, elk, and free-range bison. And yet, I’ve never seen a dog buy dog food. Have you? Dog food might be getting more delicious as it gets more expensive, but we actually have no idea. We have no clue whether dogs enjoy it more, because we’re not dogs. But we can be sure that dog owners like it more. Because dog food is for dog owners. It’s for the way it makes them feel, the satisfaction of taking care of an animal that responds with loyalty and affection, the status of buying a luxury good, and the generosity of sharing it. Some dog owners want to spend more on the dog food they buy. Some want gluten-free dog food, loaded with high-value placebos. But let’s not get confused about who all this innovation is for. It’s not for the dogs. It’s for us. A marketer for a dog food company might decide that the secret of more dog food sales is to make a food that tastes better. But that requires understanding how a dog thinks, which is awfully difficult. It turns out that the right formula is to make a dog food that dog owners want to buy. The purpose of this example isn’t to help you market dog food better. It’s to understand that there’s almost always a disconnect between performance and appeal. That the engineer’s choice of the best price/performance combination is rarely the market’s choice. There are two voices in our heads. There’s the dog’s voice, the one that doesn’t have many words, but knows what it wants. And there’s the owner’s voice, which is nuanced, contradictory, and complex. It’s juggling countless inputs and is easily distracted. Like the dog owner who is choosing based on a hundred factors (but not taste), the people you seek to serve care about a range of inputs and emotions, not simply a contest for who’s the cheapest. Choose your extremes and you choose your market. And vice versa. Early adopters are not adapters: They crave the new Early adopters are at the start of the marketer’s journey. But it’s important not to think of them as adapters. Adapters figure out how to get along when the world changes. They’re not happy about it, but they figure it out. The early adopters are different. They are neophiliacs—addicted to the new. They get a thrill from discovery, they enjoy the tension of “This might not work,” and they get pleasure from bragging about their discoveries. The neophiliacs are very forgiving of missteps from those who seek to innovate with them, and incredibly unforgiving after the initial thrill of discovery wears off. That relentless desire for better is precisely why they’re always looking for something new. You can’t be perfect in the eyes of an early adopter; the best you can do is be interesting. In your work as a marketer, you’ll be torn between two poles. Sometimes, you’ll be busy creating interesting new work for people who are easily bored. And sometimes, you’ll be trying to build products and services that last, that can extend beyond the tiny group of neophiliacs and reach and delight the rest of the market. There’s almost nothing a marketer can do that shouldn’t be prefaced with that distinction. The magic question is: Who’s it for? The people you seek to serve—what do they believe? What do they want? An aside about the reptile people who are secretly running things Professor Roland Imhoff of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, wanted to understand what makes some people choose their beliefs. In particular, he’s been studying a particular kind of outlier: the conspiracy theorist. Since we know that conspiracy theories aren’t factual, why are they so appealing to some people? And which people? In one study he cited, it was found that many people who believe that Lady Diana is still alive, having faked her own death, also believe that she was murdered. And in a similar study, people who believe that Osama bin Laden was dead before the Navy Seals arrived at his compound are also likely to report that he’s still alive. The facts aren’t at issue here; they can’t be. What’s happening is that these theorists are taking comfort in their standing as outliers and they’re searching for a feeling, not a logical truth. Imhoff writes, “Adherence to conspiracy theory might not always be the result of some perceived lack of control, but rather a deep-seated need for uniqueness.” In Imhoff’s study, he presented American conspiracy theorists with made-up “facts” about a conspiracy regarding smoke detectors in Germany. When he told this group that 81 percent of the German population believed the theory of the conspiracy, they weren’t nearly as interested or enthusiastic as when they heard that only 19 percent of the population supported the theory. By rooting for the overlooked underdog, the conspiracy theorist engages with his desired emotion, that of feeling unique, a brave truth-teller, the outsider. This group doesn’t see themselves as kooks. Each member doesn’t have a unique theory, all alone in a field. Instead, they seek to be part of a small group, a minority group, an outspoken group that can take solace in each other while the outside world ignores them. They can find this feeling every time they hang out with the other reptile-spotters. That’s not that big a leap from the countless micro-tribes that so many early adopters belong to. Sooner or later, each of us becomes (for a while) the kind of person who believes in the reptile people that control the earth. We’re seeking our own little pocket of uniqueness. Humility and curiosity A marketer is curious about other people. She wonders about what others are struggling with, what makes them tick. She’s fascinated by their dreams and their beliefs. And she has the humility to embrace the lack of time and attention that her audience wrestles with every day. People aren’t eager to pay you with their attention. The fact that you bought an ad doesn’t earn you something that priceless. Instead, we can hope that people might voluntarily trade their attention. Trade it for something they need or want. Trade it because they’re genuinely interested. Trade it because they trust you to keep your promise. Not everyone will be interested. But if you do your job right, enough people will. This is the lock and the key. You’re not running around grabbing every conceivable lock to try out your key. Instead, you’re finding people (the lock), and since you are curious about their dreams and desires, you will create a key just for them, one they’ll happily trade attention for. A lifeguard doesn’t have to spend much time pitching to the drowning person. When you show up with a life buoy, if the drowning person understands what’s at stake, you don’t have to run ads to get them to hold on to it. Case Study: Be More Chill—More than one way to make a hit Two years after almost no one went to see this poorly reviewed musical debut in New Jersey, its soundtrack showed up on the Billboard Top 10 original cast album chart. More than a hundred million streams after it was first recorded, Be More Chill is the hit musical that you can’t see (yet). Except for Hamilton, this is the most beloved musical of its time, spawning fan fiction, illustrated video animatics, and high school productions. This phenomenon happened without a Broadway debut. Without the risk and time and committee meetings. And most definitely without strong reviews after opening night. Charles Isherwood wrote in the New York Times: “predictable in its contours . . . stale . . . boilerplate . . .” The thing is, it wasn’t a play for Isherwood or any of the other critics. It was aimed squarely at the new generation that has adopted it. And talked about it. And shared it. A fan named Claudia Cacace in Naples, Italy, drew some of the video animation, which was seen by Dove Calderwood in Idaho Falls, Idaho, who hired her to draw some more. And so it spreads. At a recent café performance and meet and greet in New York (the meet and greet lasted for several hours), fans came from all over the world to meet the creators. And, just as important, each other. It should come as no surprise that there will be a new run of the musical. Off-Broadway this time. What’s a car for? More specifically, what’s a teenager’s first car for? It’s not simply a need for transport. After all, when the teenager was fifteen, he didn’t have that much of a transport problem. And plenty of teenagers make it through the college years without a car. This is a want, not a need. Few purchases cause more change than this one, and in this case, we’re seeing different changes for different people. For the teenager, a car enables a change from dependent child to independent adult. That’s a shift in status, in perception, and in power. It’s far bigger than four wheels. For the parent, it causes a change from dominion over someone to offering freedom and responsibility. And it leads to significant discussions about safety, about control, and about status. What will the neighbors say? What will we tell ourselves about safety? About independence, opportunity, and coddling? All of these changes are at the heart of the car decision. When the designer, the marketer, and the salesperson see these changes at work, they provide more value, because they can design with these issues in mind. Too many choices Old-fashioned industrial marketing is built around the person who pays for the ads. It’s done to the customer, not for him or her. Traditional marketing uses pressure, bait and switch, and any available coercive methods to make the sale—to land the client, to get the money, to sign on the line that is dotted. When the customer has no choice but to listen to you and engage with you, when there are only three TV channels, only one store in town, only a few choices, the race to the bottom is the race worth winning. But the newly empowered consumer has discovered that what looks like clutter to the marketer feels like choice. They’ve come to realize that there are an infinite number of choices, an endless parade of alternatives. For the marketer, it’s like trying to sell sand in a desert. A million books published every year. More than five hundred kinds of battery chargers on Amazon. More coaches, courses, and clubs than they could ever consider, never mind hire or join. Surrounded by this tsunami of choice, most of it offered by folks who are simply selfish, the consumer has made an obvious choice. Walk away. Positioning as a service In a world of choice, where we have too little time, too little space, and too many options, how do we choose? It’s easier for those we seek to serve simply to shut down and not even try to solve their problems. If it feels like any choice is going to be wrong, it’s better to do nothing. If the world is filled with claims and hype, people believe none of it. Marketers can choose to stand for something. Instead of saying “You can choose anyone, and we’re anyone,” the marketer can begin with an audience worth serving, begin with their needs and wants and dreams, and then build something for that audience. This involves going to extremes. Finding an edge. Standing for something, not everything. The method: draw a simple XY grid. Every available alternative can be graphed on the grid. (I’m not calling them competitors yet, and you’ll see why.) All the potato chips in a given supermarket. All the types of care for a bad back. All the spiritual institutions in a small town. Pick two axes. One is arrayed horizontally (X) and one vertically (Y). For each axis, choose something that people care about. It could be something like convenience, price, healthfulness, performance, popularity, skill level, or efficacy. For example, there are six ways to get some diamonds across town. On one axis we have speed, and on the other we have security. It turns out that both an armored car and the postal service will happily insure a small envelope of diamonds, but one will take a long time and the other will take an afternoon. If you don’t care about security, a bike messenger is even faster. And if you don’t care about speed or security, well, a stamp will work fine. The magic of the XY positioning of extremes is that it clarifies that each option might be appropriate, depending on what you seek. Can you see how this chart would be totally different if the axes were changed to convenience, cost, environmental impact, or scalability? The same approach can work for potato chips (expensive, local, air baked, flavored, extra thick, cheap, etc.) or for Walmart, Zales, and Tiffany (price, convenience, status, scarcity). Or a cruise ship and a private jet. Or perhaps a Ford, a Tesla, and a McLaren. We’re not so much interested in features as we are in the emotions that those features evoke. Here are some axes for you to choose from. Because you know your space far better than I do, I’m sure you can come up with some others. Speed Price Performance Ingredients Purity Sustainability Obviousness Maintenance costs Safety Edginess Distribution Network effect Imminence Visibility Trendiness Privacy Professionalism Difficulty Elitism Danger Experimental Limited Incomplete After you pick an attribute with two extremes for the X-axis, find a different attribute and use it for the Y-axis. Plot the options your customer has on this chart. Now you have a map of how the alternatives stack up. A map that a busy human being can use to find the solution to her problem. Some potato chips are marketed as healthy and organic. Others as traditional and satisfying. Still others as cheap and widely consumed. Marketers have been doing this forever. When David Ogilvy and Rosser Reeves (and probably Don Draper) were making ads in the 1950s, they figured out a hole in the market and then simply invented claims and features that would fill that hole. So, one soap is for people who want purity, while another is for people who care about not having dry skin. It didn’t matter if the soaps were the same, since they were “positioning” themselves. And then as marketing pioneers Jack Trout and Al Ries pushed it further, challenging marketers to position the competition into a corner while you worked to keep a spot to yourself. This is all fine, but it doesn’t hold up over time, not in a hyper-competitive world. Instead, we can think of the quest for the edges as: Claims that are true, that we continually double down on in all our actions. Claims that are generous, that exist as a service to the customer. The local music teacher, for example, needs to begin not merely by saying “I’m local,” because, as we all know, there are other teachers just as local. Moreover, “I’m pretty good at teaching” and “I won’t yell at your kid” are hardly attributes worth talking about. On the other hand, if he chooses “I’m serious, my students are serious, and this is about rigor” as one axis, and “My students win competitions” as the other one, suddenly you have a teacher worth driving to, a teacher worth paying extra for. Is this the teacher I wish I’d had growing up? Absolutely not. It’s not for me. But for the parent who views the practice room as a form of character-building, and for the student who sees music as a competition, this is precisely what they wanted. And now the teacher has his work cut out for him. Because he does, in fact, have to be more rigorous and professional than other teachers. He does have to make the difficult decision of expelling students who aren’t serious enough. And he has to persevere enough with his corps of students that they actually do win competitions. A few blocks away, a different teacher can take a totally different spot on the map. She can work with the whole student, focusing on the experience, not the notes. She can refuse to enter competitions but instead build a practice based on connection and generosity. Both teachers treat different people differently. They don’t compete; they’re simply on the same board. Choose your axes, choose your future When you look at the list of available attributes, it’s tempting to pick the ones that most people care about. After all, it’s hard work to claim an edge, and to pick one that few people care about seems foolish. Better, we think, to pick the popular one. If you do, you’ll certainly be choosing a crowded quadrant. And without the magic of advertising, it’s very difficult to grow in a quadrant that’s crowded. Your customer doesn’t know what to do, so he does nothing. The alternative is to build your own quadrant. To find two axes that have been overlooked. To build a story, a true story, that keeps your promise, that puts you in a position where you are the clear and obvious choice. Everyone else, the average or hard-working brands that picked the average or popular axes—they’re all lumped together. They are Oldsmobile and Plymouth and Chevrolet and the rest of the lumpenproletariat. You, on the other hand, have gone out on a limb, one that belongs to you, and maybe, just maybe, there are underserved customers out there who can’t wait to find you, connect with you, and spread the word. So many choices Software, perfume, insurance, candidates, authors, devices, coaches, charities, and retailers—there’s a brand everywhere you look. If you could only pick one brand to put next to each of the following emotions, one brand that you’d choose to help you feel a certain way, which brand would you pick? Safe Beautiful Powerful Worthy Responsible Smart Connected Hip If the marketers have done a good job, they have made these choices easy for you. People are waiting for you They just don’t know it yet. They’re waiting for the edge you will stake out, the one that they can imagine but don’t expect. They’re waiting for the connection you will offer. The ability to see and be seen. And they’re waiting for the tension of the possible, the ability to make things better. Your freedom You have the freedom to change your story. You can live a different one, one that’s built around those you seek to serve. You have the freedom to change how you spend your day. You can outsource the tasks and find the guts to do emotional labor instead. You can go out on a limb and do what others aren’t doing. The most frustrated marketers I know are the ones who take it as a given that because they are in industry x, they have no freedom. And so real estate brokers hustle for listings and do precisely what the other brokers do. And so pharma marketers run slightly generic ads and skirt the line in influencing doctors, instead of realizing how many options they actually have. And so we get on the Facebook merry-go-round, boosting our posts, counting our followers, and creating ever more content in the hope of being noticed. There are so many other ways to make an impact and earn trust. Much of what we take for granted in our marketing toolbox was considered a risky innovation just a few generations ago. It’s worth discarding the cruft that we built and replacing it with more generous tools. The freedom of better After the refrigerator was popularized, there wasn’t a good reason to continue hiring the ice delivery man. It wasn’t better worth paying for. After the supermarket took off, it got harder to justify the work of the milkman. And now we can all take advantage of the huge shifts in what it takes to do what we used to do (it’s all at our fingertips now, right?) and use that leverage to redefine better. Because better is what our market is waiting for. Consider the real estate broker. He used to hoard data. If you didn’t hire a broker, you had no information about what you were looking for. Today, in a world where Zillow has 110 million homes listed, the home shopper is likely to have access to at least as much information as the broker does. If the goal is to defend the status quo, to be a chokepoint, it’s going to require an exhausting sprint, one that tries to keep ahead of an ever-quickening technology and information flow. But what would better look like? Not for you, but for the customer? This shift is true for many of us. So much of the work is networked, automated, and reliable now. I needed a team of eight engineers and a budget of millions of dollars to send emails to a million people in 1994. Today, anyone can do it for nine dollars a month using Feedblitz. A decade ago, it took a dedicated team of publishers, print brokers, and sales reps to get a book to be available nationwide. Now a Kindle book can be published by one smart person with a digital file. We made the “doing” easier, which is precisely why we need to outsource that part of our job and focus all our energy onto the hard work of making change happen. One last thing about sonder We’re not faking our points of view, our dreams, and our fears. And neither are you. In politics, there’s a long history of people believing that those on the “other side” don’t really mean what they say. That Barry Goldwater and Jane Fonda were just putting on a show. That atheists really, deep down, believe in God, and that evangelicals are mostly trying to make a point, not express their actual beliefs. The same goes for Mac users versus those who favor the Linux command line, or for math geeks versus those who insist that they can’t do math. We assume that someone can’t possibly believe that they can’t do math. Or they can’t possibly support that insane policy. Or eat food like that on purpose. We’re not faking it. Your customers aren’t faking it. Those who prefer your competition aren’t either. If we can accept that people have embraced who they have become, it gets a lot easier to dance with them. Not transform them, not get them to admit that they were wrong. Simply to dance with them, to have a chance to connect with them, to add our story to what they see and add our beliefs to what they hear. CHAPTER SIX Beyond Commodities Problem first Effective marketers don’t begin with a solution, with the thing that makes them more clever than everyone else. Instead, we begin with a group we seek to serve, a problem they seek to solve, and a change they seek to make. There’s a gap in the market where your version of better can make a welcome change happen. Not a tactical change. Not a quarter-inch hole, or even a quarter-inch drill bit. No, we can change someone on an emotional level. Our calling is to make a difference. A chance to make things better for those we seek to serve. Yes, you have a calling: to serve people in a way that they need (or want). The opportunity is for each of us to choose a path and follow that, not for your own benefit, but because of what it can produce for others. Does it work? In 1906, the precursor of the FDA was formed to combat products that were fundamentally dangerous. Anger about products like Berry’s Freckle Ointment, a cosmetic that was quite likely to make you sick, or LashLure, which caused more than a dozen forms of blindness, moved the government to act. As much as fifty years later, product quality was still a crapshoot. Who knew when your car was going to break down? Today we take it all for granted. FedEx actually does deliver more than 99 percent of its packages on time. Cars don’t spontaneously break. Makeup doesn’t often cause blindness. Your web browser rarely crashes, the electricity almost never goes out, and air travel has never been safer. And yet we still talk about being very good at our craft as if it’s some sort of bizarre exception. Plenty of people are good at what you do. Very good at it. Perhaps as good at it as you are. Full credit for the work you’ve done and the skill you possess. But it’s not enough. Quality, the quality of meeting specifications, is required but no longer sufficient. If you can’t deliver quality yet, this book isn’t much help to you. If you can, great, congratulations. Now, let’s set that aside for a minute and remember that nearly everyone else can too. The commodity suckout If you make something that others make, if it’s something we can find on Upwork, on Amazon, or Alibaba, you’ve got pain. It’s the pain of knowing that if you raise your price enough to earn a decent return on the effort you’re putting into your work, we’ll just go somewhere else and buy it cheaper. When the price of everything is a click away, we’re not afraid to click. Selling ice cream on the beach in the summer is easy. Raising people’s expectations, engaging in their hopes and dreams, helping them see further—that’s the difficult work we signed up for. From now on, your customers know more than you do about your competitors. And so your commodity work, no matter how much effort you put into it, is not enough. “You can choose anyone, and we’re anyone” Imagine a shoeshine stand downtown. One approach is to find the best location you can afford and offer to shine the shoes of anyone who needs a shoeshine. There are problems with this. First, if anyone can shine shoes the way you shine shoes, then a competitor down the street will take half of your business—more, if they cut their price. Second, and more important, no one needs their shoes shined. It’s a want, not a need. And why should anyone bother? Perhaps that customer wants to look good, look like his dad looked, or like Michael Jackson looked; it makes him feel good. More confident. More likely to contribute and feel empowered. Perhaps it’s for someone who likes the status of having someone wait on him. Once a week, he gets to sit in a throne, with a well-dressed, respectful craftsperson putting effort into his appearance. Perhaps it’s a signifier. That he wouldn’t bother with this except it’s what people like him are supposed to do. And not any shoeshine. This shoeshine, in this public spot, from this respected craftsperson. Any of these edges and stories and transformations are available to the craftsperson as soon as he decides to make a difference. Knowing that this is the story your customer tells himself is insufficient. You still have to act on it, open the door to the possibility, and organize the entire experience around that story. This is the work that helps people understand that you are special, and this is the work that makes things better. When you know what you stand for, you don’t need to compete Bernadette Jiwa has written half a dozen extraordinary books that humanize the too-often industrialized craft of marketing. In Story Driven, she makes it clear that if we merely try to fill a hole in the market, we’re doomed to a cycle of rearview-mirror behavior. We’re nothing but a commodity in the making, always wary of our competition. We have no choice but to be driven by scarcity, focused on maintaining or perhaps slightly increasing our market share. The alternative is to find and build and earn your story, the arc of the change you seek to produce. This is a generative posture, one based on possibility, not scarcity. Now that you’ve chosen your audience, where do you want to take them? Bernadette shares ten things that good stories do; if the story you’re telling yourself (and others) doesn’t do these things for you, you might need to dig deeper and find a better story, one that’s more true and more effective. Good stories: Connect us to our purpose and vision for our career or business. Allow us to celebrate our strengths by remembering how we got from there to here. Deepen our understanding of our unique value and what differentiates us in the marketplace. Reinforce our core values. Help us to act in alignment and make value-based decisions. Encourage us to respond to customers instead of react to the marketplace. Attract customers who want to support businesses that reflect or represent their values. Build brand loyalty and give customers a story to tell. Attract the kind of like-minded employees we want. Help us to stay motivated and continue to do work we’re proud of. But your story is a hook And you’re on it. Once you claim a story, once you commit to wanting to help people change, to take them on a journey from here to there—then you’re on the hook. On the hook to deliver. On the hook for what happens next. Is it any wonder we’d prefer to make average stuff for average people? If all you do is offer an alternative, that’s a low-risk path. Take it or leave it. On the other hand, great marketing is the generous and audacious work of saying, “I see a better alternative; come with me.” Case Study: Stack Overflow is better If you’re a programmer, you’ve visited Stack Overflow. It’s a profitable company with more than 250 employees, dealing with millions of visits a week. If you have a question, it’s probably already been answered on one of their forums. Stack Overflow saves programmers time and effort, and it’s also a passion project for thousands of the volunteers who contribute content. How did its founder Joel Spolsky make better happen? In the early years of the 2000s, there was a programming forum called Experts Exchange. Their model was simple and obvious: They hosted answers to common programming questions, and you had to pay to read them. A subscription cost three hundred dollars per year. In order to build the business, they came at it from a place of scarcity. The questions were free to read, but the answers cost money. To get traffic, they tricked the primitive Google robots that search the web by showing them the answers (which got them good search engine traffic), but when people showed up they scrambled the information, hiding the answers until people subscribed. Experts Exchange created profit via frustration. Joel worked with his cofounder, programmer Jeff Atwood, to come up with a different approach: make the questions visible, make the answers visible, and pay for the whole thing with job advertising. After all, what better place to find great programmers than a website where great programmers come to ask questions and give answers? Along the way, Joel discovered that creating a better product meant treating different people differently, telling stories to each constituency that matched its worldview and needs. For programmers in a hurry, he made it easy to find a question and the best answer for it. The answers are ranked by quality, so programmers don’t waste time. He realized that for every person who answered a question, a thousand people wanted an answer. Instead of trying to frustrate questioners, he got out of their way and gave them what they needed. But answerers were different. For them, he built a community, a ranking system, a series of levels that would enable them to build a reputation and be rewarded with power over the community. And job board posters were different as well. They wanted a fast, efficient, self-service method to find the best people. No hard sell, no distractions. Joel didn’t want to put his personal stamp on a personal site. He set out to be of service, to make things more efficient, to tell people a story that they wanted and needed to hear. He built something better, and he let the core audience not only spread the word but do the thing that an outsider might have thought of as work. Better is up to the users, not up to you Google is better. It was better than Bing and better than Yahoo! Better in what way? The search results weren’t obviously better. The search itself wasn’t dramatically faster. What was better was that the search box didn’t make you feel stupid. Yahoo! had 183 links on their home page. Google had two. It projected confidence and clarity. You couldn’t break it. So it was better—for some people. Now, DuckDuckGo is better. Because it isn’t part of a big company. Because it doesn’t track you. Because it’s different. So it’s better—for some people. “And we serve coffee” Until a fire temporarily shut them down (actually, it was the sprinklers, not the coffeemaker, that did the damage), Trident Booksellers and Café in Boston was one of the most vibrant and successful bookstores in the country. No matter how cheap and big Amazon got, Trident managed to do pretty well. Because they do something Amazon can’t. They serve coffee. If you run a retail store that competes with anyone online, “. . . and we serve coffee” is not a bad tagline. That’s because coffee is better together. Coffee creates a third place: a spot to meet, to connect, to dream. And so Trident is actually a coffee shop that sells books. The books we just bought are a souvenir of the personal connections we made today. The authentic, vulnerable hero You know this archetype: the woman who shows up with her full self, her inner truth, ready to withstand the slings and arrows of a world that doesn’t get her, until it does, and then they celebrate. This is a myth. It’s a dangerous myth. There are a few exceptions that prove the rule, but in general, what’s true is that we need people willing to be of service. Service to the change they seek to make. Willing to tell a story that resonates with a group that they care enough to serve. There could be an overlap. It’s possible that it’s the way you feel right this minute, but it might not be. The version of you on offer might run many layers deep, but it can’t possibly be all of you, all the time. A professional plays a role, doing the best possible work, regardless of the day or the patient or the client. When James Brown fell on his knees on stage, exhausted, needing to be resuscitated by his attendants, it was brilliant stagecraft, not an authentic performance. After all, it happened every night. When a therapist changes lives all day long by listening patiently, he actually might be patient, but it’s more likely he’s simply doing his job. When the barista at Starbucks smiles at you and wishes you a great day, he’s presenting, not revealing. That’s fine, because revealing isn’t what better looks like. Revealing is reserved for your family and your closest friends, not the marketplace. Protect yourself. You’ll be needed tomorrow. Service Marketing acts (interesting choice of word, acts) are the generous actions of people who care. James Brown and the therapist understand that authenticity in the marketplace is a myth, that what people want is to be understood and to be served, not merely to witness whatever you feel like doing in a given moment. And when we do the best version of our best work, our responsibility isn’t to make it for ourselves . . . it’s to bring it to the person we seek to serve. We reserve our best version of the work for them, not for us. Just as a three-star chef doesn’t cook herself a twelve-course meal for dinner, you are not expected (or welcome) to bring us every one of your insecurities, innermost fears, and urgent demands. You’re here to serve. Authenticity versus emotional labor Emotional labor is the work of doing what we don’t feel like doing. It’s about showing up with a smile when we’re wincing inside, or resisting the urge to chew someone out because you know that engaging with him will make a bigger difference. It takes a small amount of energy and guts to be authentic. You need to feel confident enough to let your true feelings be exposed, knowing that if you’re rejected, it’s personal. But there’s a lot of hiding involved as well—hiding from the important work of making change happen. If all you do is follow your (make-believe) muse, you may discover that the muse is a chicken, and it’s steering you away from the important work. And if the authentic you is a selfish jerk, please leave him at home. If you need to be authentic to do your best work, you’re not a professional, you’re a fortunate amateur. Fortunate, because you have a gig where being the person you feel like being in the moment actually helps you move forward. For the rest of us, there’s the opportunity to be a professional, to exert emotional labor in search of empathy—the empathy to imagine what someone else would want, what they might believe, what story would resonate with them. We don’t do this work because we feel like it in the moment. We do this work, this draining emotional labor, because we’