Seth Godin’s Action Theory Of Marketing

This is an overview of Seth Godin’s Action Theory of Marketing – “The Modern Marketing Workshop



Who is Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a marketing Guru and author of 18 best-selling books. The most notable being Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
and Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable–Includes new bonus chapter
Seth has a popular marketing blog where he gives his daily perceptions on what’s going on in the marketing world.

Seth’s Blog


An overarching strategy to create:

  • Emotions
  • Change
  • Alert
  • Share



Do people want what you are selling?

There are only two ways to look at a professional services or product; wants & needs.
Do they need your product or service? If yes, then your work is done. They need it, and you have it, they will come to you for it. What is there to advertise? If you have a better way to bring people what they need, just bring it! The people will show up and buy it, cause they need it.

Having a service that people want, is a different story. People want all kinds of things. Some things that are good for them, and some that are not. They will also want something now, and not want it later. Wants have many layers of emotion, reaction, habitual behavior, and triggering. Understanding what “your” people want is the trick.

Once you have that amazing thing you then have to sell it to “your” customer. You do this with Emotions.

The Emotion of Delight

You have to please them with your product or service. What can you do that so exceeds expectations that your buyer will be “delighted” with you? You have to move them, be outstanding, be different, be original. You want them to say, “Wow, I haven’t seen that before” or “wow, I haven’t been treated like this before.”

The Emotion of Fear

Create the fear that if they don’t buy this, they’ll regret it. Regret is very powerful. A millionaire will work ten times harder to keep a million dollars then he will earn it. Why? Because the grief of losing millions of dollars would be devastating.

Being aware of your fear is smart. Overcoming it is the mark of a successful person – Seth Godin

Show Me The Money

I lived in Toronto In my late teens. I had little money and a big dream of becoming a rock star. One day, I as I walked down a busy Young St. I noticed a huge bundle of money laying on the sidewalk. It looked like a 4-inch stack of $20’s tied together, maybe a couple of thousand dollars. Excited, I leaned down to pick it up when out of the blue another hand whisked in and grabbed it. We both stood up and looked at each other for a second, surprised at the find. I could tell he wasn’t the owner of the money.

At this time in my life, a couple of thousand dollars was like a million, and I was eager to get my hands on it. “Is that money?” I asked even though I knew damn well it was money. The guy looked at me with a bit of fear and distrust. “It must belong to one of these stores; I should return it” he replied as he started to back away from me.

Accessing the situation I decided there is no way that guy would hand that money over to me, so I acknowledged the fact that it probably belonged to one of the stores, and I went on my way. The missed opportunity crushed me.

That day tortured me for years to come. Even though I never had the money in the first place, I felt an extreme sense of losing. It’s been 25 years since that day, and I have had way more money then that flow through my hands, but as I’m writing this article, it’s the first story that came to mind.

Fear of losing is incredibly powerful, but it must have the correct use.

Choose which emotion you want to invoke and in whom you want to invoke it. What are you doing for them and what emotion are you trying to create?

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What great companies do is they cause their customers to change. When you can change your client’s opinion or even their philosophies, you create the framework to sell to them.

Pretty Women Don’t Wear Deodorant Because They Don’t Sweat. How do you get women to change this perception?

In the early 1900’s society still lived in the Victorian mindset. Appearance was everything, and women needed to be lady-like. Nobody talked about perspiration or any other bodily functions in public. People’s solution to body odor was to wash regularly, especially the “problem areas” like armpits. They even used rubber pads to hide perspiration.

Then came Edna Murphey with Odorono (Odor? Oh No!) an antiperspirant, and changed the way women viewed perspiration.
Although Odorono had gone through some rough time in its early years because of the fear of health risks and clothing damage, a marketing plan would change how people perceived the product.

James Young, a copywriter, hired in 1912, would launch a marketing campaign that would tell women that a doctor created Odorono (change the perception of antiperspirant as being unhealthy) and presented excessive perspiration as a medical ailment in need of a remedy (Not creating a problem, but solving one).

What James did was make people believe perspiration was a problem, raise their awareness that a solution existed, and convince them it is healthy for you. He changed the way people looked at antiperspirant.




Once you have changed someone, what can you do to earn the privilege to alert them to new products.

Permission Marketing:

  • Trust
  • Privilege

iTunes is a perfect example of trust and privilege. With the emergence of Napster as a peer to peer file sharing program, the music industry was in trouble. More and more people were sharing their music via computer Mp3 instead of buying CD’s from retailers.
Along comes Apple with an incredible idea: Make music easier to buy than to steal. iTunes was born. You could search and buy music, keep it nicely organized and seamlessly port it to you iPod. Best of all, the program was free to download and use.

Apple started to gain people’s trust. Everyone had an iPod, and everyone had an iTunes account. Now when you purchased a song, Itunes would show you other music that was similar to the music you just purchased. In turn, you would buy that music too. They had done such an excellent job in providing you with such an incredible service you now are giving them permission to suggest buying more products.


The real power of marketing is the sharing. One person loves your product and then shares it with their friends. #MarketingTips Click To Tweet


The real power of marketing is the sharing. One person loves your product and then shares it with their friends. Word of mouth advertising.



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The Purple Cow in a Milk Carton by Seth Godin

How do you take an ordinary item like a book and get people to be excited about it?

Seth Godin, being a leader in innovative marketing, came up with a creative way to market his book Purple Cow.


Put the book inside a milk carton.
When you see a well-designed milk carton, and it has a book inside, you will be surprised. You will want to know what is going on with this and want to open it.


Books inherently change your perception of things. We read books to either change our imagination or change our intellect.


Seth used his large following from his column in on Fast Company and emailed them an offer.

Offer: If you send me $5 for shipping, I will send you a free copy of my book Purple Cow.

Over 10,000 people took Seth up on his offer. When he sent the book packaged in a milk container, he also sent another offer.

Second Offer: Buy 12 more books for $60

About 4000 people took him up on the second offer.


What do you think those 4000 people did with those 12 books they just purchased? That’s right, they gave them away to their friends and family.


As marketers, we are not in the interrupting business anymore, we are in the “Make something worth sharing” business.

If you like the Action theory of Marketing, check out Seth Godin – “The Modern Marketing Workshop” online course.