Response to Seth Godin: You Miss 100% of the Shots You Don’t Take

I have a ton of respect for multiple best-selling author Seth Godin. However, I do disagree with his blog post today titled: “All we need is 250 votes…” Here are the first couple of paragraphs from Seth’s post …

This is cruel marketing.

If you’re like me, you’ve gotten dozens of emails over the last week about a promotion that Chase and Living Social are running in which they’re promising local businesses that work within their community a chance to win a grant for $250,000. The emails almost always have the line, All we need is a vote from 250 kind friends and supporters like you.

Here’s why it’s doubly dangerous. First, clearly the organization doesn’t actually get a grant in exchange for only getting 250 online votes. Hey, 250 online votes won’t even get you a pack of chewing gum these days. No, all the votes do is make you eligible to apply for the grant. And yet the organization, perhaps a worthy one, is now spamming thousands of people offering this sliver of hope, all in rush to get 250 votes, even though the chances that anything will happen are perilously close to zero. There are only 12 grants available in total. That’s pitiful. Hopes raised, hopes dashed.

This past Friday with about 36 hours left in the contest, I decided to enter. In just a few hours, I received 422 votes. I certainly can’t speak for the other people in the competition, but nowhere was I mislead nor in any way thought winning the grant was going to be easy.

The 250 votes gets you into the next round. That’s cool. So I’m in. Now I’m one of tens of thousands. I’m sure the winner will be a great story … somebody who is trying to cure cancer or has the right stuff to become the next Facebook. That’s awesome. Thus Godin is right; my dream of winning the grant will probably be dashed. But here’s where I think Godin misses the point:

  • As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
  • Not only did I receive tremendous support in just a few hours, I also received hundreds of responses to the “please vote for me email I sent.” Yes, as Godin mentioned, it was a mass email; I sent mine to folks who previously had purchased my book and/or who attended one of my training programs. Many of the responses I received were incredibly heartwarming stating things like “you’ve done so much for me, I was waiting for something where I could help you.” Those notes are very meaningful to me and greatly appreciated. It’s wonderful and humbling when someone tells you that your work is making a difference.
  • The application process helped me jump-start my next business plan. It was always in my head. It was great to get it down in writing. I’m actually going to use what I wrote as the start of my plan to secure some additional funding via other means.
  • I doubt I will win. I’m certain that there are 12 incredibly worthy people out there with game-changing ideas who will provide superb PR for the sponsoring organizations. Again, that’s wonderful. However, maybe I make it to the finalist round. If so, I can use that for marketing purposes. Maybe someone who reads my entry is intrigued enough to visit my website, buy my book, purchase my videos, hire me for a speech, or better, tell others about my company. That’s worth all of the effort. Per #1 above, you never know what can happen, but I can guarantee that by not taking a shot, that you’ll never score a goal.

So I’ve very appreciative of the opportunity as I’m sure the other entrants are as well. I think Godin makes some good points. However, for those who enter, there are many other benefits—possibly even more important benefits—then winning. Now you Know More!

Image ©Mission Small Business

About Sam Richter

Sam Richter is an internationally recognized expert on sales and marketing. His experience includes building innovative technology, sales, and marketing programs for start-up companies and some of the world's most famous brands. Sam has won Best of Show at numerous marketing competitions, a Gold Award at the International Film Festival, and he was recognized with a Codie-Award, the ‘Oscars’ of the software industry. He was named one of the Most Influential Chief Marketing Officers on Twitter, and one of the nation’s Top 25 Most Influential Sales Leaders. Sam’s most recent best-selling book, "Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling" is now in multiple editions and has also won numerous awards including being named Sales Book of the Year. Sam is the founder of the acclaimed Know More! business improvement program and he has trained teams and entertained tens of thousands of persons around the world. Sam was named to the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 list, and he is a past finalist for Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Learn what others say about Sam’s programs at
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