Times a Million: Seth Godin on Getting the Message Out

Marketing guru Seth Godin looks at how much gas would be saved if everyone drove a car as efficient as his Prius it would save sixty billion gallons of gasoline each year, solving greenhouse gases and energy independence in one shot. Yet if you look at a single driver, they might save only three hundred bucks and it is not worth it to them. Global warming is not in their headspace:

"The closer an issue is to the purchaser, the easier it is to use it with impact. People care about a fire in their movie theatre, a lot less about one across the country. " And, of more interest to those of us saying that little steps are important: "the consumer will be more motivated by something that she can have a direct influence on. Sure, every little bit helps, but every little bit is really difficult to market."

Its the "million times" problem- people don't think their little step will make a difference. And the way we try to convey the message doesn't work.

"The same as the person who buys one of the million bottles of Fiji water sold every year. The same as the person who doesn't want to know about a kid about to die... if the kid is thousands of miles away and it's not clear how one person can make a difference right now. Here's the thing: all marketers who whine about the distant do is annoy people. At least the people who don't care about the distant. They don't get "times a million" math, and repeating it with frequency isn't going to help much."

"The lesson of the National Lampoon cover above, the best magazine cover in history, should be obvious by now. The way to sell the distant is to make it immediate. The way to sell the drop in a bucket is to make the bucket a lot smaller, not to extrapolate to even bigger numbers. "Buy this car and we'll kill 10 penguins" is a lot more powerful than "Buy this car and forty years from now, if everyone else buys a car like this one, your grandchildren are going to spit on your grave." ::Seth Godin