Learning From Seth Godin’s Gravity vs. Evolution Marketing Theory

This week my team has been in an interesting discussion about the different lessons we’ve taken frfrom Seth Godin’s recent piece Gravity is just a theory. The basic premise, naming something that people already believe in is very smart marketing, lives both in reframing existing ideas (such as Gravity) and answering existing wants (the iPhone as an answer to everything we already knew we wanted in a phone).  On the reverse side, evolution faced an uphill battle because it required people to abandon their current school of thought, as well as because the timeframe of the message was longer than the attenion span (in the case of evolution, the lifetime) of the audience.

I originally introduced the article to my team and presented the idea that relaunching the ONDCP’s Anti-Drug  message as the Above The Influence message in November 2005 was a powerful marketing tactic that repositioned the message to fit Godin’s “gravity” outline and away from his “evolution” outline.  In essence, the Above The Influence framework took Anti-Drug and reframed it in a way that most people already think is a good idea - to be yourself, be the best that you can be, by being above the influences in the world.

Someone else took an alternate lesson from the article.  He pointed out Godin’s principle that the timeframe of the message relevancy in fitting with the audience’s attention needs to be paid close attention to.  This leads us to consider whether the campaign needs more pro-active in showing how being above the influence can benefit people in real ways, directly within the window of time that the decision is being made - either tangibly or emotionally.

Still another person reading the article took away a completely different learning.  Focusing on the line Persuading someone to start a blog is evolution marketing. Lots of people have been brainwashed that they have nothing to say, or can’t say it, or aren’t allowed to say it. And you rarely see someone become an overnight blogging success, we discussed how mindsets have to change to really believe that contributing content to facebook, twitter, yelp, etc, really have value and matter to our social graph.  This lead me to read up on Chris Brogan’s opinions of The Annotated World, essentially pushing us all to see the value in incremental contributions (another discussion for another time).  The discussion doesn’t relate to my job as much as it relates to the evolution of communication and social interaction in general, but it is significant none-the-less.

All in all, I highlight this because Godin’s article on Gravity vs. Evolution Marketing really stood out to a variety of people in very different ways, and generated internal marketing discussion in a way that rarely happens on a higher level above our day to day work.  I will look to highlight more of his thinking and the critical analysis it instigated in further posts.  I invite comments.

[cross posted on my Advertising blog KBS Advertising]