Yesterday I had an opportunity to introduce Seth Godin at the speaker series that my company, ThirdWay Brand Trainers, runs. Seth stopped by to talk about Meatball Sundae, his new book. Seth – being Seth – was full of energy and incredibly insightful ideas.
The book is about the indiscriminate use of new media by brands that don’t really fit the ethos of the Internet. One thing Seth Godin said while talking about widgets (functional applications that can slot onto your my Yahoo, iGoogle page, blog, Facebook or in other places) is that he didn’t think marketing widgets would be successful because they were ungenerous where as successful widgets needed to be generous. In other words, a widget that shows the weather for my area is generous because it is useful without being demanding or pushy. A widget from the GAP which features a new sweater everyday is inherently ungenerous because it’s not that useful and demands my attention.
We discussed this issue in my NYU class ‘From Blogs to Buzz’ last night. I think the solution is that marketers need to focus either on their most passionate consumers or find generous applications that might still benefit them. For example, one of my students runs a loyalty program for British Airways. That brand could have a widget for its most rabid frequent fliers which tracks flights and frequent flier mileage and delivers targeted offers. But for the less-involved BA frequent fliers, they would need something like an aviation weather forecast that could be set by region or destination – to allow them to predict weather delays regardless of whose plane they were flying.`