What Marketers Can Learn From Linchpin by Seth Godin

Linchpin is a very thought provoking book that describes how we must think differently about work to succeed in the new economy. Here are a few of the big ideas and my reflections on how this can be applied to marketing.

The idea of repetitive hard work done to the specifications of a rule book is no longer the key to prosperity.

Seth discusses the changing workplace, where workers can easily be replaced by an army of virtual workers who are willing to work for close to nothing. The worker who simply shows up and collects a paycheck for blindly following the rules so they don’t have to think is now obsolete. Seth writes that you have no right to your job – unless you can create “art” that can not be easily replaced. Could companies outsource their marketing department to bright MBAs in China for a fraction of the cost? I don’t see why not – unless you can figure out how to make yourself indispensable.

Create a blog that is so insightful about your area of expertise that others refer it.
Seth Godin doesn’t blog to sell more books. He does it because he wants to give gifts. When we share our wisdom unselfishly with others (e.g. blogging), we often benefit as a side effect. I can think of many people who have demonstrated that they are indispensable marketers by first sharing their brilliant ideas via a blog (Chris Brogan and Scott Monty come to mind).

If you can’t be remarkable, you should consider doing nothing until you can.
Sometimes it can be better to do nothing rather than produce ordinary work. I interpret this as it is better to do a few remarkable, amazing, and extraordinary things than a lot of boring, average, and uninteresting things. It reminds me of Dell who produces ordinary and undifferentiated products versus Apple who releases a new product every few years that attracts a million times the attention because they are different and remarkable. 

Not everyone is a genius all the time, but everyone is a genius sometimes.
Sometimes all it takes is one genius moment. Edison was not a genius 99.99% of the time when he was trying to invent the light bulb. Companies like Microsoft have thrived for decades on 1 big idea.

We often trade our genius and artistry for security.
This goes backs to a common theme in Seth’s books that we need to take risks and challenge the status quo. Doing the “safe thing” is riskier than ever. I think the good news is that we are now forced to produce genius work if we want our jobs to be safe.

The easier it is to quantify, the less it is worth
Although many managers are maniacally focused on measuring the ROI of everything, sometimes the best work you can do is unmeasurable. You can’t quantify the value of the Zappos customer service agent who can make someone’s day or having Robert Scoble on your PR team.

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