What Does A Meatball Sundae Have to Do With the Emmy’s?

You really don't want to eat one of these

You really don't want to eat one of these

If  you think you know the answer, you can skip to the final paragraph 🙂

After finishing the alt-mba (26 great business books in 26 weeks, more on that inspired idea another day), Paul Pettengill graciously sent the graduating class a signed copy of Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae. Fantastic, I thought, another book to read! Turns out, I loved it.

As you know, Seth is a great marketer and prolific writer.  Dan and Chip Heath of Made to Stick fame, could have used Seth’s book titles to prove the value of “Unexpectedness”.

Having been and seen inside traditional enterprise software and pharmaceutical companies, I have strong anecdotal evidence to support the central thesis: you can’t just slap New Marketing (the sundae) on top of Old Marketing (the meatball) and expect results.  You have to either build a new organization from the ground up to support the new realities or just keep the traditional approach and accept the increasingly lackluster results in the face of the new reality.

Seth details 14 trends in the book, many of which you can guess at now (hey, it was written in 2007): increasing connection between consumers and producers, increased power of the consumer, need for authenticity, lack of attention, the long tail (must get Chris Anderson‘s book), outsourcing, infinite niches supported by search and addressed by more targeted communication (note death of mass advertising), increasing communication between consumers, shifts in scarcity and abundance, power of disruptive service or product ideas, inversion of the price/volume bell curve (be cheap or exclusive – just don’t get stuck in middle), and the rise of the new gatekeepers (bloggers).   It’s a thought provoking book – just consider alone the list of what was scarce (storage, bandwidth, international telephony, overnight shipping, airtime, information about other people) and what was abundant (spare time, attention, trust, natural resources).

This where the connection with the Emmy’s comes in.  The idea that traditional marketing is dying a long, slow death was captured by David Bianculli on Fresh Air yesterday when he observed the death of broadcast and the rise of fervent niche audiences for cable shows like AMC’s awesome Mad Men.  David brilliantly noted the accompanying death of the US car companies: in 2009 no one cares about either the new fall line up of cars, or broadcast shows. No amount of whipped cream and cherries will solve their problems.


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