Book Review: Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin

Meatball Sundae was not as easy a read as most of Seth Godin's books are.  The book as a whole was messy (The title should have warned me) and definitely not up to his usual quality.

The main point of this book is that running your business the old way, which Seth defines as selling mass market products targeted at as large a demographic segment as possible does not work with what he calls the New Marketing - online and social media marketing.  An example of the old way would be Walmart or Coca-Cola.  Amazon and Google are excellent examples of New Marketing, as is Seth's own   The meatball sundae is two things that don't work together at all, even if they're both good. 

While I agree that most traditional brick and mortar companies aren't structured to really benefit fully from what online and social media marketing, I disagree that they can't benefit at all.  As a matter of fact, one of the points Mr. Godin makes later on in the book, which I fully agree with, is that any company ignores social media at their peril.  With social media, everyone becomes a critic of the company, for good or bad as many examples illustrate.  And you never know what story will catch the attention of the public, whether or not it's true.  One damaging story can have a huge impact on the company's bottom line.   Seth gives the example of Delta throwing a woman off a plane for breastfeeding, among several others.  If we thought about it, we could all come up with similar examples.  Your company may not be posting anything on social media, but they should be monitoring at the very least.

He also makes an excellent point  that you can't use online and social media the way TV, radio and print advertising work.  It's a completely different medium which requires a completely different strategy and orientation. 

Another difficulty I had with Meatball Sundae is working out how to apply it to my target market, independent professionals and small service firms  who traditionally don't benefit from traditional advertising or marketing campaigns such as direct mail.  

What I concluded is that what he describes as the trends of the New Marketing actually favor the independent professional and small firm. You don't need a huge budget anymore to make a substantial niche.  Online and social media allow a small company or independent professional a much wider voice and outlet than was ever available before.  He goes into detail on what he calls trends of the New Marketing.  These trends, such as the long tail, outsourcing, infinite communication channels, amplification of the voice of the consumer and independent authorities work in the favor of the small independent more than the big firm.

According to Seth Godin, the small businesses with very high quality service,  like those that were put out of business by the large discount houses (Walmart, for example),  can now compete against the big firms by having a much more targeted audience that is both large and more dispersed than ever.  A great example would be Blendtec (you can check out their videos on YouTube).

All in all, Meatball Sundae did have a fair amount of useful information, even if it didn't seem to tie together well enough to support his main point.  It's worth reading, even if it's not what I would consider among his best. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Meatball Sundae as well.