Last week, I was able to attend a session with Seth Godin in New York. While Seth had some prepared remarks, most of the time was spent reacting to real-life business situations that members of the audience brought up. The audience consisted of about 50 people from as far away as Australia. Anyone who reads Seth’s blog (you do read his blog, don’t you?) knows that he has an incredible ability to convey valuable insights in remarkably little prose. If you think that you get a lot from two paragraphs of his writing, you can imagine what I got out of spending seven hours listening to him talk. If you ever have the opportunity to see Seth speak, I highly recommend taking advantage of it.
One of my favorite observations that Seth made was that people have specific “worldviews.” You can either try to change these worldviews or leverage them. Needless to say, changing them is very difficult. One example he brought up was advertising. When he was in the business, he presumed that people wanted to buy advertising in order to create awareness, inspire trial usage, generate revenue, etc. In other words, he thought people bought advertising because it worked. What he found out was that people bought advertising for many reasons, many of which had little or nothing to do with whether it “worked.” As an example, how many Super Bowl commercials really make sense as an economic proposition? Still. there are plenty of people making lots of money leveraging the worldviews of advertisers who feel they have to be part of the big game.
It seems to me that one of the challenges about worldviews is that our own so often get in the way. We fall in love with what we are selling and how we are selling it. If it doesn’t sell, it is because the customer doesn’t “get it.” The best mousetrap won’t sell well if using it does not fit in with the worldviews of the customers. Acknowledge this and don’t let your own worldview cloud your judgment.
Thanks Seth and the members of the audience for a remarkable day.