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Has Seth Godin's Meatball Sundae Gone Off?

In Seth's Meatball Sundae book he talks about marketing not matching the business or products on sale, and I basically think he's right. He talks about how traditional businesses doing marketing traditionally have done well. Those mainstream businesses have done the bread and butter marketing correctly by really getting to know their customers and not taking extreme risks but making sure all of their marketing is understood by the organisation.

The premise continues that these companies, in the pursuit of growth are trying the new marketing strategies offered by the internet because the company feels that their audience isn't responding to those old marketing methods. But he contends that these new horizons aren't always suitable for the old-fashioned "meatball" companies.

All that is fine and well, but it’s when you get 34:50 into the audio book that I get a bit miffed.

He states that with the investor pressures these meatball companies are facing, the management start playing with the ice cream Sunday parts, and he rattles off "blogging and Search engine optimisation".

Now I can understand why he'd say blogging isn't suitable for all companies, but SEO? A sundae is something that may taste nice but it doesn't really suit old-fashioned companies and certainly doesn't go with 'meatballs'.

I'm sorry Seth, but I don't agree with you. SEO is not a "Sundae". I've been involved with it for the past 12 years. To me it’s a strategic foundation of any business whose market can exist online. Today, it appears that every organisation has a website. If you don't then Google will let you set a up a free site. You just have to go through Yahoo! or DMOZ and you'll see sites about every facet of society. Just Look at Chris Anderson's The Long Tail book. It's all about boundless consumer demand in ever decreasing fractions of niches.

Perhaps I'm wrong but Seth describes the implementation of SEO as the "desire to be a little flashier" (35:06) and that it can't be a fundamental core of every business's marketing strategy as a little naive.

There are so many degrees of SEO. You can simply 'SEO' by changing your title tags, by including a sitemap or by asking relevant sites to link to you. It doesn't need someone to pay a consultant like me a significant sum to increase your online sales. It’s all about degree. A consultant like me would still offer ROI just as there would be ROI (albeit smaller, I hope) for an owner-manager reading a few (the correct) ebooks about SEO.

To me there is nothing flashy about SEO, it's the nitty-gritty, unglamorous older-brother to affiliate, banner, email and social marketing.

I also disagree when he says the successful companies are the ones that are organisationally created around their marketing. I've done SEO for solicitors, investment organisations, the public sector, recruitment, education, FMCG and none of these organisations have had their entire marketing strategy (bar one) based on SEO or online marketing and they have all been successful organisations. I've even done SEO for a company that removes white-lines off roads, a carpet shop and a haberdasher. The ones that have succeeded online are the ones that have trusted me to utilise the 'sundae' where it's most relevant. That's the role of an online marketing consultant.

He contends that these old 'meatball' companies have to be 'in-sync' with the new marketing to be a success. I'd disagree. I'd say they have to 'trust' new marketing. They don't have to understand it, they don't have to live or breath it, they just trust it and take balanced risks.

I'd do agree that internet marketing is about making "noise". But the successful internet marketing campaigns are the ones that makes the right noise in the right place. Perhaps that's where diversifying your risk into affiliate marketing and trusting the affiliates you work with comes into play? Balancing that with hiring the right consultant that has the balls to say that you shouldn't spend your money on X, Y or 

I'm getting more annoyed. He states (40:02) "new marketing is about fashion, about stories, about promises. New marketing doesn't understand top-down command and control thinking". I'm sorry Seth, but it often does. I have a degree in Economics, I have awards in Business & Finance and Banking. I understand the collective marketing strategies, I know what the bottom line is, and I’ve run a company so I know about organisational obligations and priorities. Seth you're a tad patronising. Please don't lump SEO with viral marketing or with social media optimisation or email marketing. It simply is different

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