Seth Godin on Marketing in The Connection Economy


When Seth Godin talks, marketers listen. And luckily for marketers, Godin has a lot to say. He’s wrote 18 books and runs a well-respected marketing blog, posting his musings about everyday. He’s probably gave to close 1,000 talks, one of which we’re featuring today.

Godin was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Inbound conference. In this talk, he discussed that businesses and marketing are from the industrial economy and entering the connection economy.

The Four Ideas in the Connection Economy

Godin believes that humans aren’t very good at following instructions. Instead, we’re very good at connecting, as a species we’re one of the best in the world. We’ve been programmed to follow instruction at a young age, starting with school, where children are taught to obey and take instruction. He says:

The industrialists invented the educational system because they needed cheap labor. Cheap, obedient labor, people who would sit still and do what they are told.”

He believes that we’re leaving the industrial economy and entering the connection economy. There are four pillars in the connection economy:

  1. Coordination — Before you can market anything, you need to coordinate a group of people to carry it out.
  2. Trust — This takes times and effort, but earning trust with consumers is a must in the connection economy.
  3. Permission — Based on his permission marketing approach, Godin says you need to deliver anticipated, personal, and relevant messages to people who want to get them. It’s a privilege to talk to people who will listen to you.
  4. Exchange of ideas — Godin says that you’ll learn more from people at the conference than the speakers. He says, “what happens when we create an enviornment of connection, we create enormous value by combining all four of these things (coordination, trust, permission, exchange of ideas) into a network of people who want to pay attention to one another.”

The four ideas are based on two principles:

  1. Generosity — Because no one wants to trust or connect with a selfish person.
  2. Art — Because we don’t want to connect to someone who’s going to do just what they did yesterday. It’s the work of a human being doing something real and personal that might not work. Many listening to Godin just want bullet points, or a map of what to do. Godin says whenever he lists bullet points on one of his blog posts, social media shares go through the roof. But Godin is against providing bullet points, saying “the minute someone gives you a map, is the minute it’s not art anymore.”

This is the underpinning of all marketing. You gain connection by earning it. You earn not with discounts or clever copy, you earn by being generous and being an artist.

We’ve only scratched the surface of his talk. The video below contains his entire keynote.


“We are leaving the industrial economy and entering the connection economy.”

“Once you understand that you are in the business of connection, then never again will you spam your email list on the last day of the quarter because you gotta make the numbers go up.”

“Each and every person has an unlimited ability to achieve anything he or she wants through the power of connection.”

“[Permission marketing] is the idea of creating anticipated, personal, and relevant messages to people who want to get them. Here’s the simple definition: that email that you’re going to send next week — if you didn’t send it, how many people would complain and wonder where it is? Cause if they’re not complaining when you don’t show up you don’t really have permission.”

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.