Guest post: Leadership is now the strongest marketing strategy

Seth Godin, Best-Selling Author

Yelling with gusto used to be the best way to advertise your wares. There was plenty of media and if you had plenty of money, you were set.

Today, of course, yelling doesn’t work so well.

What works is leading. Leading a (relatively) small group of people. Taking them somewhere they’d like to go. Connecting them to one another.

I say relatively because there are few products that need everyone in order to succeed. A tiny sliver of the market is enough. Bill Niman used to run Niman Ranch, a cooperative raising meat for fancy restaurants and markets. That was already a sliver of the huge huge market for meat. He moved on to start BN, a 1000 acre farm raising goats for a subset of that subset. It’s enough.

It’s enough if the tribe you lead knows about you and cares about you and wants to follow you. It’s enough if your leadership changes things, galvanizes the audience and puts the status quo under stress. And it’s enough if the leadership you provide makes a difference.

Go down the list of online success stories. The big winners are organizations that give tribes of people a platform to connect.

Go down the list of fashion businesses or business to business organizations. Same thing. Charities, too. Churches, certainly.

It’s so tempting to believe that we are merely broadcasters, putting together a play list and hurtling it out to the rest of the world. Louder is better. But we’re not. Now we’re leaders.

People want to connect. They want you to do the connecting.


Seth Godin is the best-selling author of Tribes, Purple Cow, Linchpin, Meatball Sundae and more. This post has been excerpted with permission from his blog.

Godin will serve as keynote speaker for Leading Innovation in the Social Sector, a daylong event focused on social innovation and entrepreneurship hosted by the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness (CLOE) in collaboration with the UB School of Social Work and Blackstone LaunchPad at UB. For more information, visit mgt.buffalo.edu/cloe2017.

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