I just finished reading two books by the prolific marketeer Seth Godin: Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside. I had heard a number of people discussing Godin’s latest book and thought I would see what I was missing.
Purple Cow is a battle cry to make remarkable products. It is a passionate plea that a product that tries to be all things to all people will be nothing to everyone. Godin makes a case that a product should leave the happy middle ground. Make the cheapest product, or the most expensive, the most elegant or the simplest. The early adopters are the people that you need to win first and they are not drawn to the average product. A remarkable product, literally one that would make someone remark and take notice, will produce “sneezers” who will distribute your “idea virus”.
Free Prize Inside! argues that a series of small incremental changes to your product to add value is better than either a huge marketing or a huge research budget. When Amazon took their large marketing budget and instead spent it on free shipping they created value, a “free prize”, for their customers. Give your customers a free prize, give them value, and they will talk about it.
I enjoyed both books even if I did not always relate to the world he was writing about. Having worked in Silicon Valley startup companies for so long I did not relate to some of the information in Free Prize Inside! about how to sell your ideas to a management chain that would clearly be resistant. I did not disagree that this happens, I just did not relate on a personal level. Also I find Godin’s terminology like “sneezers” to be something that I am likely to remember but embarrassed to repeat.
My favorite part of both books are the concrete examples that I look for in a book in this genre. I am left with questions like “how would I do something similar for my company, my blog or my podcast?” “What free prize could I provide my customers, my readers or my listeners?” So I am left with questions, but those are exactly the kind of questions I am looking for.