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“This is a subversive book. It says that the marketer is not–and ought not to be–at the center of successful marketing. The customer should be. Are you ready for that?” –From the Foreword by Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point.
Counter to traditional marketing wisdom, which tries to count, measure, and manipulate the spread of information, Seth Godin argues that the information can spread most effectively from customer to customer, rather than from business to customer. Godin calls this powerful customer-to- customer dialogue the ideavirus, and cheerfully eggs marketers on to create an environment where their ideas can replicate and spread.
In lively detail, Godin looks at the ways companies such as PayPal, Hotmail, GeoCities, even Volkswagen have successfully launched ideaviruses. He offers a “recipe” for creating your own ideavirus, identifies the key factors in the successful spread of an ideavirus (powerful sneezers, hives, a clear vector, a smooth, friction-free transmission), and shows how any business, large or small, can use ideavirus marketing to succeed in a world that just doesn’t want to hear it anymore from the traditional marketers.
Basically as I go through any book that I read, I underline interesting ideas/quotes/paragraphs and then later come back through the book to get the lessons gleaned from these underpinnings and try to figure out what they mean to me and apply them to my own life.
Here were the most interesting lessons in the book for me:
*The Idea Factory: The first century as about who could create the biggest, most efficient farm, the next century was about who could create the biggest factory, now it’s all about ideas. Seth says “one thing is clear: if you can get people to accept and embrace and adore and cherish your ideas, you win. You win financially, you gain power, and you change the world in which we live.”
*Stop Marketing At People: You can’t market at people anymore, they’re done listening. You have to create an environment where people will market to each other, by creating unique experiences and WOW-a-fied products that people are dying to tell their friends about. Would you go to a hair salon or barbershop that ran you a facebook ad or one that your friend told you they got an amazing haircut at? Exactly. Follow this accordingly.
*Make Things Smooth: How easy is it for an end user to spread this particular ideavirus? That’s what Seth asks us and answers with a great example: if someone tells you you’ve got a great haircut it’s pretty easy to mention “yeah I went to Bob at Bumble & Bumble, whereas it’s really hard to mention your marriage counselor and sort of awkward. You need to make it really smooth to share.
*Sneezers: these are the people that spread ideas to others. Find these people and go after them first so that they’ll help spread it to everyone else. When I launched a ketogenic meal delivery service, I spoke to the key influencers first in the niche ketogenic community so they would spread it to the other members who followed them.
*Nobody Rewards The Good: you cant just put out a great product of great quality. That’s expected, no one will talk about your product. It needs to be so cool, so new, so fast, the very very very best for anyone to even think of mentioning it. Deliver such an unexpected product/service that they’re FORCED to tell everyone they know. Think about the last time you told someone about a new product/service…think about why you did, add that to what you’re doing.
*Don’t Be A Chicken: Most people start with a really creative idea, a really edgy product/service but then as they go along they soften the edges and chicken out, they make it normal and vanilla. You have be brave and bold with your ideas as your newfound title of IDEA MERCHANT, if you’re willing to do that, being an idea merchant isn’t for you.
*Choose A Hive You Can Dominate: Who’s this product/service for? Oh everyone? Sweet, you’ll never make it. Everyone wants to make something for everyone, and unless you have a billion good luck. You need to the smallest possible group of people that you can make the most drool-worthy product or service for before you even think of another group. So find your hive and then ask yourself “is our offering good enough to WOW this hive of people?”
*Stay On Top Of Feedback: businesses with a hot hand start to believe they are the ‘fashion makers’ instead of the ‘fashion editors’ and fall in love only with their own taste as Seth says. This is hubris. You need to stay on top of the feedback loop and see what people are reacting to in order to create products/services with them, for them.
*Give It Away: Take 75% of your advertising budget and place it on free sampling. If your product/service is great, it will take off, and you use the other 25% to ignite the flame. If it isn’t uniquely great, then it will fail. This is the true test of whether you’re ready to launch or not, if you think you could grow simply by launching with free samples then you’re ready, if not it’s not unique enough or not good enough to launch anyways.
*What Are You The Best or Most At: Either in your personal life or business life, figure this out and take it even further to the edges, amplify these traits to make yourself or your product so WOW-a-fied that people couldn’t help but share your story.
*Innovation: People are so afraid to innovate because they’re not sure how a new business model will bring them money. There is no time to wait, right now there’s a crazy entrepreneur ready to launch that idea himself. Right now I’m doing a meal delivery business and obviously food costs money, but if we figured out a way to somehow send free food and possibly make money another way of course I’m going to have to pursue that and possibly flame out because if I don’t the other business who can somehow deliver free food but make money on ads etc will win every time. Innovation is scary because it changes everything you know about your current business, but if you choose not to participate until you know all the answers, you’ll lose every time.