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on December 26, 2007
When I deliver keynote speeches and run seminars at companies, I am often asked for advice on how to convince the bosses that the new rules of marketing really work. Frequently people say something like: "My bosses make me prove ROI before I can do this online thought leadership and viral marketing stuff."

My cynical answer is: "What's the ROI of putting on your pants in the morning?"

But then I suggest that people to ask their boss if in the past few months, they've made a product or service decision based on a direct mail piece they received or based on a TV advertisement. (Almost no bosses have). Then I say they should ask their boss if in the past few months they've used Google or another search engine to make a product or service decision. (Virtually all bosses have).

Well now I have something else to suggest. Buy a copy of Seth Godin's Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync? for your bosses.* Tell them it is an important book. Meatball Sundae will be your tool to help others in your organization to understand what you already get and what you are eager to implement. It will help you to get the buy-in to do the new rules of marketing that you know makes sense.

But first your bosses may need to transform your company.

Meatball Sundae lays out in a convincing manner the transformations that are taking place in business today. These transformations mean that everything needs to be looked at carefully, including marketing. But to just toss new marketing onto the top of obsolete business models is like putting whipped cream and a cherry onto meatballs to make a sundae. (Yuk).

Godin tells a story I really like. Josiah Wedgewood, a potter in England in the 1800's at the start of the Industrial Revolution, was the first to create a factory with a production line and job specialization. He built a showroom and shipped product around the world. And he sold bespoke pieces to royalty but first displayed those fantastic and expensive creations for several months so all could see. (Wedgewood was a marketing genius AND a business pioneer.)

Josiah Wedgewood took advantage of changes in society and technology and changed the way business is done, made millions, and founded a company still famous today. But his brother Thomas Wedgewood stuck to the ways that all potters have worked in the past, barely made a living, and is forgotten today.

Godin says fourteen trends are completely remaking what it means to be a marketer. And while these trends are transforming organizations that have the right approaches, they are crippling the organizations that are stuck with nothing but meatballs. Once again, marketing is transforming what we make and how we make it.

* > If you ARE the boss, you should buy copies for your board members and investors...
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If you had a bowl of meatballs and wanted to dress them up a bit before you served them, would you add whipped cream, a sprinkle of nuts, and a cherry on top? A meatball sundae doesn't sound attractive? Seth Godin knows how to write with snappy images to get his ideas across in crisp, concise, and memorable images. The idea of the meatball sundae is used to illustrate old style companies trying to "get with it" by using the New Marketing paradigm without updating anything else. One of the examples he cites is the $40 million Anheuser-Busch spent on Bud-TV to add zero new customers. I am not qualified to judge the appropriateness of the effort or what Bud was after, but I do agree with the author that the goal of all marketing, in the end, has to be to create more customers.

The book has three parts that each consists of multiple short sections that focus on aspects of the topic under discussion. Part 1 is "Thinking About the Meatball Sundae" and takes us through the history of marketing in the US and how it has gone through several upheavals and how those who got their marketing in synch with the new realities won.

Part 2 is "The Fourteen Trends", which discusses the realities of the New Marketing.
They fourteen trends are:

1) Direct Communication and Commerce Between Producers and Consumers
2) Amplification of the Voice of the Consumer and Independent Authorities
3) Need for an Authentic Story as the Number of sources Increases
4) Extremely Short Attention Spans Due to Clutter
5) The Long Tail
6) Outsourcing
7) Google and the Dicing of Everything
8) Infinite Channels of Communication
9) Direct Communication and Commerce Between Consumers and Consumers
10) The Shifts in Scarcity and Abundance
11) The Triumph of Big Ideas
12) The Shift From How Many to Who
13) The Wealthy Are Like Us
14) New Gatekeepers, No Gatekeepers

Part 3 is "Putting It Together" and Case Studies. The Case Studies are short illustrations of how these principles and trends support success or how failure results from ignoring them.

The book is a pleasant read and geared towards those trying to get a handle on what is happening now in the marketplace, especially to entrepreneurs thinking about their marketing efforts. It is written with energy and without academic jargon.

You will know if this book is for you. That is, if you are writing checks for marketing programs for your company, this book is for you.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
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on January 1, 2008
Godin does an excellent job demonstrating why "old dogs" (the meatballs) and "new tricks" (the sundae toppings) often fail. His primary premise is that the techniques of Old Marketing (that is, interruptive marketing such as billboards, tv ads, and so forth) is dying, if not already dead. The problem for the adherents of Old Marketing is that they are unable to sync New Marketing innovations with their mass market products. They have been too focused on mass media, instead of consumer-to-consumer word of mouth marketing approaches. He then skillfully lists about a dozen other out-of-sync issues. The problem is that our societal changes and product individualization expectations have resulted in the consumer longing for altogether new (innovative) products through these New Marketing channels. We no longer want the built-for-everyone solution -- even if the maker starts a blog or other viral messaging about the item. I feel Godin does a great job of bringing together a number of key issues presented in some of his earlier works (such as Permission Marketing), as well as telling authentic stories (pick up "All Marketers are Liars" by Godin or "Why Johnny Can't Brand" by Schley and Nichols), along with some of the recent word of mouth marketing writings (such as "Word of Mouth Marketing" by Sernovitz and "Buzzmarketing" by Hughes). For good measure, "Make it Stick" is a great discussion of what makes certain events and ideas have lasting impacts on our psyche.

It is clear that Godin does not put forth his ideas as easy -- largely due to the decades (even centuries if you consider his Wedgwood example) of established marketing tradition, and the mega billion dollar machine that keeps the entire system going -- regardless of its increasing ineffectiveness. Nevertheless, Godin will make you a true believer in the need to make the changes -- not just to endure, but to thrive.

This is an A+ read and is worth your attention.
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on November 19, 2014
Holy Moley. If you're in marketing... no if you do any marketing... no if you're in sales.. uh if you're in business, particularly if you're in business for yourself you'll find all of the above and more reasons to read this, no devour this book.
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on May 3, 2014
It's not really a well written book, but more than anything else it will teach you to think differently about marketing in today's social media scene as opposed to more traditional methods of marketing, like TV and newspapers.
The examples Seth gives points you in the right direction, but at the end of the day the ideas you will need to come up with will be your own and not his.
You will still have to find your own way to cut through the social media jungle out there.
I can't really complement the chef on this concoction as it does take a bit of chewing over and a little bit to digest.
I just wonder what sort of meat was in Seth's meatballs, as I'd hate to think he was flogging a dead horse here ;-)
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on December 30, 2007
This is perhaps Seth's finest work to date. Make no mistake. I'm a Seth fan and for good reason.

Seth makes it easy for non-marketing guys like me (a corporate filmmaker) to grasp the deeper meaning of this "Web 2.0" thing and connect to those who are as passionate about a subject as I am.

So what does this have to do with organizations trying to get a handle on New Media Marketing? Perhaps everything.

Most organizations are stuck marketing widgets/stuff/services/meatballs by sprinkling some whipped cream and cherries on top...blogs/pods/wikis/...and hoping for something remarkable.

Seth proposes new marketing doesn't demand better marketing. It demands better products/services/organizations.

Organizations should start with a product/service/widget/meatball worth talking about and new marketing tactics will enable your story to spread that much faster.

Is your organization stuck serving "meatball sundaes?"

Thomas Clifford
---Corporate Filmmaker
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on February 22, 2008
Seth Godin sums up the central and profoundly important point of this book right here -

"The 'operating system' for marketers is now fundamentally changing. It doesn't matter how big your market share is today. If your product and your marketing are optimized for the older model, you will be defeated by the relentless tide of the New Marketing and the products and services that are designed for it." (p 182)

I hope companies with traditional models are heeding this advice, because it's only a matter of time before those models are Model T's.

"Meatballs" are average products made for average people. "Sundaes" are the new online marketing tools we see evolving and morphing by the day. You can't market meatballs with sundaes because New Marketing is all about quality and niches. The meatball model doesn't mix with the medium of the Web.

Godin tries hard to make his case, using several fascinating case studies and examples of how companies in the most mundane industries imaginable (blenders and notebooks, for example) have thrived by adapting their model to the New Market and then putting together smart sundae strategies.

For all his eloquence,lucidity, and credibility, Godin himself sounds a bit uncertain as to whether he possesses the necessary skill to make his case, going for a hard sell close in the final pages. Boy. If he thinks it's a tough sell, that should give one pause.

Despite the mounting successes scored by companies that embrace New Marketing, much of the business world is oblivious. While in some sectors YouTube is driving big sales, in many more sectors it is viewed as a mere source of personal entertainment. Blogs may be building loyal customer communities for some manufacturers, but for many more, blogs remain an utter mystery.

This book is must reading for business owners and high level execs, no matter what the business or its size. It's an attempt to explain the new marketing imperatives and why you must change your business and embrace them. Its message is similar to that of The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual, only told more politely, with less ideology and more practical illustrations.
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Bestselling author and marketing Seth Godin has a message for you and your company – adding New Marketing elements to your existing marketing scheme is liking putting whipped cream and a cherry on your meatballs = Yuck! In fact, fourteen trends are relentlessly changing the way you need to do business, and if you choose to ignore the trends, your future looks bleak. This fascinating book tells you how the world has changed in the past, how it is changing today, and what you must do to survive and thrive in the new economy.

Overall, I found this to be a fascinating book. I loved the author’s explanation of the history of marketing (Josiah Wedgwood, you radical revolutionary you!), which I found quite illuminating. But, even more interesting is his explanation of how the world is changing now. I thought I knew what was going on, but I now see that I didn’t really understand it all.

This is a very interesting book, one that must be read by just about any working adult. This is because, even if the trends the author describes haven’t affected your business yet (and I really doubt that), they will have a colossal affect in the future – and I am not just talking about marketing. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the near future, and wants to be ahead of the curve.
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on January 2, 2008
Seth Godin has the uncanny presence to write what most marketers won't. Seth gives us examples where "New Marketing" works. He shows us why "Old Marketing" is fading because consumers are so good at ignoring ads and blocking out other unwanted marketing interruptions (see his ROI on direct mail v. real opt-in email). Seth also makes predictions (a marketplace with more personally tailored choices, better service, happier customers). So what's a meatball sundae? It's topping a bowl of meatballs (Old Marketing and mass-consumed products) with whipped cream and a cherry (New Marketing such as blogs and podcasts). What do you get? Heartburn, and not much else. After reading this book, you'll be challenged to think about your marketing and how to create true sundaes that are in sync with your products and customers. They'll tell you what they want if you let them. They already are through Internet searches and near-instaneous sharing of information. New Marketing is not going away. Continue to spam and yell at consumers through Old Marketing tactics at your own risk. Consumers have already been liberated.
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on August 20, 2014
Godin never fails to deliver. I must admit I've become a bit of a Godin addict, but it's well deserved. If you're looking for innovative ways to make your product or service stand out from the pack of dreariness that surrounds you, this will get you thinking.
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