Book Review – Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae

Title: Meatball Sundae

Author: Seth Godin

Country of origin: United States

Release date: December 2007

First published: 2008

Genre: New media marketing

Publisher: Portfolio (a member of the Penguin Group USA Inc.

Price: R182 on and $16.29 on

ISBN: 978-0-7499-2948-0

I must admit that the first thing about this book that caught my attention was the title. The quirky combination of words immediately caught my interest. I mean, no person in their right mind would combine the two components, so I decided to give the book a chance.

As you flip open the book, Seth Godin explains that a Meatball Sundae is a messy, disgusting and ineffective marketing approach and the result of combining two marketing aspects that have nothing in common.

Godin’s metaphor of meatballs is used to describe the basic staples of marketing, the things people need, the products or services which used to be marketed quite effectively with television adverts and other mass-market techniques.

The toppings on the sundae are explained as being the New Marketing revolution, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, websites, permission marketing and viral techniques.

Godin explains in the book that companies are all trying to catch on to the hype of the New Marketing revolution but often fails dismally. He states that what often happens when companies force sundae toppings onto meatballs is one big marketing failure. His suggestion to fixing this problem is for organisations to stop producing the same tried and tested items and to create something fresh and new which can be complemented by new marketing.

What I enjoyed most in reading this book is Seth Godin’s quirky sense of humour. His relaxed and informal writing style makes this business book a joy to read and it also helps you to remember what you read and to internalise the point he is trying to make.

In his introduction for instance Godin writes: “You think I’d learn a lesson. My short books sell much better that my long ones. So why not make this book really short? Two reasons. First, because there’s a lot of juicy stuff here, tactics you can use right now, stories that can inspire change. Second, because I’m asking a lot out of you once you’re finished reading.”

The book is divided into three parts, part one is titled: Thinking about the Meatball Sundae and explains the world of marketing, first as it was with a brief and interesting history, and then continues to paint a picture of the current marketing environment.

The second part of the book focuses on the fourteen trends that are remaking what it means to be a marketer. The trends are explained and discussed with relevant examples of how they have been implemented in companies and how they changed those companies for the better.

The fourteen trends as listed in Seth Godin’s book are:

1.  Direct Communication and Commerce between Producers and Consumers

2.  Amplification of the Voice of the Consumer and Independent Authorities

3.  Need for an Authentic Story as the number of sources increase

4.  Extremely Short Attention Spans due to Clutter

5.  The Long Tail

6.  Outsourcing

7.  Google and the Dicing of Everything

8.  Infinite Channels of Communication

9.  Direct Communication and Commerce between Consumers and Consumers

10.  The Shifts in Scarcity and Abundance

11.  The Triumph of Big Ideas

12.  The Shift from “How Many” to “Who”

13.  The Wealthy are like us

14.  New Gatekeepers, No Gatekeepers

The final part of the book is aptly titled Putting It Together where Godin explains that though the fourteen trends may seem contradictory, or too diverse it is important to leverage at least a few of them in an organisation. He then provides practical examples of how this has been done.

Godin concludes the book with the message: “if New Marketing can be characterized by just one idea it is that ideas spread through groups of people are far more powerful than ideas delivered at an individual”.

If you’re still not sold on this amazing book that will revolutionise your perspective on New Marketing, then check out some other reviews.

Seth’s Blog

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Shoestring branding


3 responses to “Book Review – Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae

  1. I really like reading Seth Godin’s work not just because of his delightful sense of humour but also because of his deliciously appropriate and creative use of metaphor and analogy! Has this book left any lasting message with you?
    His lighthearted style has influence your writing too it would seem as your review is both easy on the eye and a stressed mind! Well Done 🙂

    • Meatball Sundae has left a lasting impression on me in the sense that I will definately try to incorporate New Marketing into future marketing endeavors in such a way as to complement both the product/service and the chosen marketing medium. Another thing that I take away form this book is that I can now see when a new media marketing venture has been forced onto a product/service and when it is a natural fit.

  2. This is a superb review Carla! It sounds like this Seth Godin is really a remarkable man when it comes to “making marketing simple” and thoroughly understandable to any brain wave. I’m convinced that, marketing can be characterized by just one idea and that is, when they spread through groups of people they are far more powerful than ideas delivered at an individual! Just brilliant!

    I’m convinced, I need to read this “meatball sundae”.

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