Meatball Sundae

A "meatball sundae" is the idea of mixing two good ideas... and everything going horribly wrong. If the meatballs are the foundations of marketing, the things we need, and the whipped cream and toppings represent the fun stuff of new marketing... well... you can't simply just toss them together and expect the results to be awesome.

Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin was selected as the first book for a marketing book club at my office, where several marketing teams from the different divisions would come together and discuss. The discussion was fine, though I personally think our targeted audiences are a bit too varied for us to come up with any real action items as a group. Within our individual marketing teams, perhaps, but it was useful to hear everyone's thoughts. The book club leader was very organized and had prepared a handout and everything, leading our discussion in the same format as the book. It's broken up by fourteen "trends" that are defining the marketing landscape right now, which make for easy reading in short bites, and clear discussion.

Personally, I imagine if I had read this book in 2007, it might have been helpful. But reading it in 2009, it was only useful insofar as it re-emphasized certain basics. It would, however, be an interesting read for someone new to marketing or just embarking on a project. You could definitely get some pointers on launching a new product with this book, but it's not terribly helpful when it comes to marketers who have a product already. (After all, he notes that the two big take-aways from his book should be that you should "Make something worth talking about and make it easy to talk about.") It's a quick read and it's certainly skim-able, but because of his continued focus on energizing your consumer base (aka find people to spread the word of your product for you by activating the interested and turning them into campaigners), I spent most of the time wishing that we had, instead, selected to read "Tribes." The frequent use of case studies was both helpful (giving clear examples) and annoying (there wasn't a single company that he mentioned that I hadn't already heard of or studied).

So if you're looking for a marketing book, my advice to you is to make sure you're reading something new if you're looking for something to do with new marketing. Otherwise you'll find it's already behind the times.

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