Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread

Speaker

Seth Godin is an entrepreneur and blogger who thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age

Summary

For the first few years, the idea of sliced bread was a complete flop – noone wanted it, and noone knew it was available. The original focus was on patents and factories – the technical side of the idea, rather than the commercial. Nowadays it doesn’t matter how good your idea (or product) is, it is only the most widely spread that “win”.

In recent history, the TV-Industrial complex was how companies spread their products. Advertising on TV would give you sales which you could reinvest in TV. Nowadays it just doesn’t work – people have too many choices and too little time to care about advertising – they ignore most of it. The best way to be noticed is to be remarkable, or different. The largest and smallest cars are the best sellers now – because they are different. A chair can sell better as a status symbol, rather than a utilitarian chair.

The TV-industrial complex sold to the masses – these are the people who stopped caring and just ignore it now. Nowadays a better strategy is to appeal to the niche – early adopters or ‘geeks’. These people like listening, and are keen to try something new and to tell their friends about it. They have “Otaku” – an obsession to try something, because that is what they do. It is hard now to market a variety of products that don’t have an Otaku group – that’s why you’ll see much more variety in hot sauces than mustards. Sell to people who are listening and they might tell their friends.

Apple will stream their key note and 50,000 people will watch a 2hr commercial for their products, because these people care desperately enough to listen. They will tell their friends, and this keynote is what keeps Apple so successful. Pearl Jam now sells only on its website (to their biggest fans) and makes a profit every time. Dutch Boy Paint is 35% more expensive but desired for its innovative paint can design, Hard Candy Nail Polish doesn’t appeal to everyone but those who love it talk about it all the time. People want different products, and they want them targetted at them.

Some closing points

  • Design is free when you get to scale, and people who are coming up with something remarkable can make the design work for them
  • The riskiest thing is to safely market at the mainstream. Being Safe now is about marketing at niches. Simply being very good is unremarkable and rarely noticed – you have to also be different.
  • The best way to market a new product is work out who cares and target them directly.

My Thoughts

Seth is fascinating. His talk comes down to really simple points – come up with something remarkable and market it at a group who care. Mass media doesn’t work any more. Reading in other places (though he discusses it briefly in the talk), he has made the distinction between types of marketing:

  • unsolicited ‘Interruption marketing’- TV ads, spam emails. These interrupt what you are doing and demand your attention
  • Permission Marketing – this is opt in – people have agreed to receive more information. They are more receptive, it is more personal, and the advertising is cheaper.

All this makes me wonder how I can become a purple cow 🙂

 

Rory Sutherland: Life lessons of an Ad Man

Speaker: Rory Sutherland

Length: 19:12

Summary

The talk is focused around the value of intangibles, specifically from the perspective of advertising. He tells us that all value is subjective, BUT an intangible change can be just as satisfying as a physical change. Frederick the Great, of Prussia, wanted more the country to adopt potatoes as their primary crop. But people thought potatoes looked ugly, tasted weird, and farmers had no desire to grow them. Frederick realized the farmers would rather be jailed than forced to grow potatoes. So he took a new approach, and decided to re brand the potato – changing its perceived value. He declared that potatoes were only for the royal grew them in his garden, protected around the clock by his guards. Not long after, people gathered to create an underground potato market.

Rory tells another story about the creation of intangible value that he experienced in his own work. An intern was given a task to create a new advertising campaign for the popular cereal Shreddies. Shreddies are the equivalent of chex mix – square shaped pieces of wheat. Instead of making a change to the product, the company focused on changing how people perceived it. This was the result:

The analogy is clear: We need to learn to appreciate things that already exist before creating new things.

“When you place a value on things like health and love and learn to place a material value on what you’ve previously discounted for being merely intangible … you realize you’re much, much wealthier than you ever imagined.”