The magic word

No, it’s not "please."

It’s "ego."

I meet a lot of confused marketers, and the primary cause of their confusion is that they believe that money equals motivation.

They believe that people will choose the best value.

That people will buy what they need.

That the best products and services will spread because they deserve to be talked about.

That employees can be persuaded to do things by paying them more and that consumers will buzz something if you reward them with cash.

This is true. Every once in a while.

It’s true for people who deep down equate money to ego. This tiny subset of the population really and truly keep score via cash. They are rare indeed.

We’re constantly on the lookout for someone’s real motivation. We don’t understand why someone would volunteer at a charity or take a lower-paying job or recommend a cool new CD or post something on their blog. "What’s in it for them," we wonder. Here in the world capital of capitalism (yes, I just made that up…) Americans have fallen in love with the idea that money can feed the ego.

Almost all the time, that’s wrong.

Since this is a post about ego, let’s talk about… me. I smiled the other day when I read a review of my blog. It said
(paraphrasing) "Like many authors, Godin blogs to sell more books."
Wrong. Actually, I write books so that more people will read my blog!

I don’t blog to make money. I don’t run ads on my site. I don’t even blog to win awards. I blog because it pleases me to see my ideas spread. I like it when I see people talking about one of my ideas–without even mentioning where the idea came from. That means it’s the idea that spread, not my brand. Which is the whole point.

For me, anyway. Not for you or for her or for him.

And that’s the tricky part about marketing to ego. Everybody feeds their ego in a different way. The art is in telling a story that matches the ego-outlook (what I’ve called a worldview) of your target audience.

The next time you’re in a meeting and someone pulls out a spreadsheet, realize that you’re about to hear about money/value = ego. That’s fine. But what about everyone else? Ignore the rest and they’ll feed their ego somewhere else.