Seth Godin: “Modern marketing and hustle,” or how service outpaces hustling

Some 18 months after discussing the term “hustle” with Praxis School of Entrepreneurship program administrator, Elaine Mantyka, agreeing that the term carries too many negative connotations for entrepreneurs to use it, I read this blog posting  from Seth Godin:

Modern marketing and hustle

Hustle uses shortcuts and effort to bend the conventions of society to get more than the hustler’s fair share of attention. Hustle burns trust for awareness. Because it’s a shortcut, hustle might deliver in the short-run, but hustle is notably non-consensual. Few people want to be hustled.

Marketing is the work of helping people get what they’ve wanted all along. Marketing is about establishing the conditions for a small group of people to eagerly spread the word and build connection. Modern marketing changes the culture by establishing what the new norms are and does it in a way that makes things better for those it serves.” 

“Taking [i.e. Demanding] attention vs. storytelling and service. Sometimes it feels like the shortcuts and depersonalization and scale are the only option; then a great marketing project comes along and we’re reminded that in fact, we can do work we’re proud of ” (all emphasis mine).

As I spell out to my business ESL (English as a Second Language) students, who sometimes need to hear it, our marketing methods can and should always be ethical.

And yet the “hustle” of “shortcuts and depersonalization and scale” fill our newspapers and social media, quickly collapsing into self-promotion, “flash and glam” that “play” the solo buyer, who is quickly outmaneuvered in the exchange

  • a high-end mattress is delivered, soiled and dusty, to a colleague in Toronto, who paid for “basic [not elite] level of delivery”
  • a friend laments mistreatment in hiring a company in a hard-to-regulate industry, moving and storage, who damaged and lost his property and then denied and concealed it
  • a generous natured relative is “totally ripped off” after (carefully) pre-booking a fresh-cut, boutique flower arrangement at a reputable, upscale florist

While these “hustles” elicit anger (or rage) and frustration, by contrast, Godin’s “modern marketing” in “storytelling and service” can be found in the work of friends locally and nationally, including these: Katrina German and her team analyze how “Ethical Digital” is not an oxymoron and what it involves; Monica Kreuger and the team at the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship have developed entrepreneurial training that embodies strong values, not cheap profits; and Patti Pokorchak teaches sales with decency and rigour, in her innovative classes at Ryerson University.

These women (and their teams) have no interest in “hustling” in their portfolios.

So, with a nod to our friend, Seth, I recommend that we subvert the term “hustle” and all of its connotations to these women’s alternative kind of true marketing—the “storytelling and service” we provide to make life better for others, that keep us working late hours to fulfill, and of which we can rightly be proud.

And now it’s your turn. . .What has the term “hustling” meant to you, in your experience? What steps do you take to prevent it in your business or work?