Seth Godin's Amazon Book Reviews

Goals

Read Amazon reviews for the titles below and look for patterns to answer the questions below. The goal is to find insights about buying motivations, expectations, and features / benefits that really matter to validate the hypothesis that founders and CEOs want to do business and market with integrity to leave a legacy for future generations. According to experience 2–4 star reviews are fertile grounds to mine for themes and insights where the author fell short in some meaningful way. The questions to be answered by looking at the book reviews are:
  • What people complain about.
  • What readers mention as being important.
  • Why they bought the book in the first place (what problem were they trying to solve?)
  • Where the author succeeded.
  • Where the author fell short.
The books to start with are the following titles by Seth Godin:
  • This Is Marketing.
  • Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.
  • Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.
  • All Marketers are Liars.
  • Unleashing the Ideavirus: Stop Marketing AT People!

Early Findings

This is Marketing Reviews

  • On Amazon, Seth Godin's This is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See is rated 4.6 out of 5 stars from 2,408 ratings. The ratings are distributed as follows:

What Readers Complain About

  • One of the most recurring complaints about the book is that it offers nothing new and contains repurposed/rehashed content from Seth's previous works and also from his blog. Provided verbatim below are some reviews highlighting this issue, and many readers have found these reviews helpful, implying that many of them share the reviewers' sentiments.
    • "Seriously? Random musings at best: Let me be clear up front: I’m a huge SG fan and believe his approach to Marketing is spot on. I was very hopeful and anticipated this new release for months. I was looking forward to a work that tied all of Mr. Godin’s theories and advice together in one volume. As soon as it was available I ran out, bought it and scurried home to devour it. My hopes were quickly dashed in my quest for some “meat”, something of genuine value, something I could put to use in my daily job as a marketer. Unfortunately, the book Is really just a continuous string of Mr. Godin’s ramblings on various topics he’s discussed in previous works. All of a sudden I was skipping huge swaths of examples and musings in the hope of finding something useful. I know Mr. Godin has a lot of useful advice and insights, but I just couldn’t find anything I could sink my teeth into in this particular book. I’m hugely disappointed. I know Mr. Godin can do much much better than this."
    • "A truly valuable lesson in self-marketing: I purchased this book because Seth lured me by offering a code would give access to a community with tons of value. The tons of value were more or less videos I could watch on YouTube too and a groupie-like community. Seth never showed up. He added some stale content and closed the threats to make sure his readers understand that he's not planning to interact. He then (or his staff) tried to motivate us to review his book for an "exclusive opportunity" to sit by a short event where Seth would actually show up. Video reviews only. This is why a book with re-purposed content from a blog can have so many video reviews in such a short time. No, thanks. I'm not into that pop star thing and I feel you should treat people, especially people who support your work, with respect and care. Please don't insult my intellect while you attempt to manipulate me. Seth does deliver a lot of value. But so do others that don't have a "prettiest cheerleader" attitude. This is an incredible lesson on self-marketing and selling for when you have reached the size where you can pull something like this off. It's also a great lesson on the importance of humility and respect. I feel Seth should re-visit some of his older work and practice what he teaches."
    • "Just read his blog: I'm a HUGE fan of Seth Godin and pre-ordered 2 copies of this book thinking it would be so great I'd have to give it to others. I was largely disappointed to find that it's all excerpts from his blog, basically a collection of ramblings. I wish I would have known that upfront."
    • "Worst book I've read all year: That is just my opinion though. Ironically Seth does explain how not everyone is going to love what you create. If you create a product/service for everyone then it won't succeed. Well then all I am saying is that this book is not for me. It is broken, there is no point being made. This is just a compilation of someone's marketing notes. Notes that aren't even unique. If you're a marketer and have done some sort of research about marketing then trust me — you won't learn anything new from this book. It is all re-hashed."
    • "90% are just rambling: Poorly written. Lack of focus and explanation, no direction, no summary, unobvious metaphors. Many times, I've finished a chapter but had no idea what the author is trying to say. The whole book is just rambling, like listening to a drunk guy talking at a bar."
    • "This book is Seth's rumblings: The book is completely USELESS. Seth is not making any points, he is just rumbling. Don't waste your money."
    • "Like others have said, this book is a collection of vague, half-formed generalizations you've heard better explained elsewhere. It's like he threw together a bunch of blog post DRAFTS and called it a book, banking on his name recognition and popularity. The glowing reviews are all from starry-eyed marketers who thought they'd get to meet/interact with Seth by reviewing it well! They got the book for free or in exchange for positive reviews. If anything, get this book from your library. IT IS ZERO PERCENT WORTH YOUR MONEY! If this was written by a first-time author, IT NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED."
    • "A book of unfocused ramblings. Seth should be ashamed of himself for publishing this rubbish. Hopefully others will take note before rewarding this lazy piece of writing with their cash. Check out "Made to Stick" by Chip & Dan Heath for an example of how a book should be written."
    • "This was such a waste of money and time. The book was a pain to read, it lacked so much substance and coherence. It felt like going through a draft of a scrapbook with endless irrelevant examples and useless incomplete analogies to explain very vague/ambiguous platitudes about marketing. Every chapter is basically a series of consecutive short paragraphs that rarely have anything useful to say. The book’s content had at best the consistency of an amateur’s blog post. Actually it felt like a lazy compilation of very short barely relevant blog posts. Save your money and your time..."
  • According to other readers, the book contains incorrect information, makes many unsupported claims, and is very theoretical with no practical advice. Here are some reviews that highlight this:
    • " Lacking Real World Examples, Reads Like Disjointed Presentation Slides: Was assigned this book for a college course. The book reads like a very long introduction. There are many claims, but hardly any examples rooted in reality to support those claims. Even though I want to support his stances, I can’t act on beliefs that have no evidence. "Additionally, the author wrote this book like a lengthy, text-only, power point presentation. The sentences are choppy, and nearly every single one of them constitute their own “paragraph.” This form was incredibly distracting to me. It was hard to focus on one topic, since they are only about two sentences long. As a result, I was constantly losing my place on the same page. The ideas in the book mean well, but they are presented poorly, and without any concrete support."
    • "Cheap marketing tactics: This book is a collection of SG chit chatting about his marketing philosophy, with very little substance you can apply to your business. 1. Contains lots of incorrect information. Example: SG completely dismisses paid advertisement: paid ads no longer works. There are plenty of companies that grew by paid advertisement, for example Dollar Shave Club. Yes they built a great brand, but saying paid advertising is dead is incorrect. He should have said "paid advertising isn't the main focus on this book" and it would be ok, rather than exaggerate and misinform readers. 2. Lacks supporting evidences: The books make lots of claims without supporting evidences. Same example as above, he would make claims like: paid advertising no longer works, without any supporting evidence of: what are the signs that shows it no longer works? why it no longer works? what are the dynamics behind that? Many points in the books are made based on assumption, which makes me questions the validity of the strategy, and it makes many points in the book seems forced. 3. Very theoretical, no practical advice. If you read this book with the intention of knowing more about marketing and finding something new to apply to your business, don't waste your time. The book contains very high level basic marketing concepts, and very little useful information that can be applied in real life. If you want to know the basic of marketing and want a high level knowledge of branding and community building (this book isn't an exhaustive list of marketing strategies), this book is for you."
    • "Seth is good but too idealistic: I like Seth a lot but sometimes his ideas are not a reflection of the real world. There are some products that benefit from telling a brand story but 99% of products don’t need a story. When I buy a frozen pizza or cereal I don’t need a brand story, just give me a good product at a fair price. If marketers should want to change the world why do some brands who have violated consumer trust still grow and make money? Yes, some products solve my problems but most just meet my basic need as a consumer."
  • Other readers think the book is disjointed and poorly presented:
    • "Very Rough Read: Very disappointed in this book. Very disjointed read, choppy and difficult to understand in certain parts. Seth knows his stuff but I feel as if each sentence starts a brand new thought or idea, entirely different from the sentence before. Does not flow at all. I wonder if Seth was almost going for that one statement or “nugget” of wisdom in which he would then want everyone to either quote or remember, thus spewing out these platitudes. It did not work for me."
    • "Seemed like this was just a bunch of random thoughts thrown on paper. Didn't feel like much structure was in place. A few good tidbits but felt like someone with ADD wrote it."

Summary

  • Within the first hour, we were able to provide some themes/patterns in critical Amazon customer reviews/complaints about Seth Godin's This is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See.
  • Based on data availability, we anticipate being able to fully answer all parts of the question.
  • To provide more themes and insights into where Seth Godin fell short in the marketing books in this request, we recommend further research. Details on our recommended research paths have been provided in our proposals below.

Research proposal:

Only the project owner can select the next research path.
Need a similar proposal? Let's launch your next project!