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Seth Godin

How Purple Cow's Seth Godin teaches marketers how to see

Your customers are more than a demographic subset

Seth Godin

Purple Cow taught the marketing world that to be successful, it paid to be remarkable.

"The key to success is to find a way to stand out - to be the purple cow in a field of monochrome Holsteins." - Seth Godin, Purple Cow

Now, in his latest #1 Wall St Journal and New York Times bestseller This is Marketing, Seth Godin states that he returns again and again to the question:

Who’s it for?

He writes that this question 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’s it’s for,” then doors begin to open for you,” he writes.  

"You can't be seen until you learn to see." 

After all, he writes, 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,” he explains.


Use psychographics instead of demographics 

Seth recommends choosing people based on what they dream of, believe, and want, NOT what they look like.

In other words, he suggests in This is Marketing, use psychographics instead of demographics.

What are psychographics? It's the study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria.

Seth says it's grouping people based on the stories they tell themselves, or worldviews. What lens they look through when they view the world. 

“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,” he adds.

To illustrate this, Seth names three different personas we might encounter:

  • Bargain Bill who’s playing a sport when he shops - at the same time he wrestles with his narrative about money;
  • Hurried Henry who is always looking at a shortcut and is rarely willing to wait in line, read the directions, or think it through (at least not when he’s travelling for business);
  • Careful Carla who’s suspicious about the taxi driver, sure she’s going to get ripped off by the desk clerk, and would never drink out of the hotel mini bar.



When answering Who’s it For? Seth suggests that we begin with the smallest viable market.

If you could only change 30 people, or 3000 people, you’d be choosy about which people.  Limiting scale focuses your energy on the makeup of the market instead.

To sum up, Seth’s words ring true: 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?” he writes.

Whose problem are you solving?


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