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Soundview Executive Book SummariesA free prize is not a gimmick. It is a game-changing soft innovation; a cool twist that doesn't cost a fortune but transforms the way people think about your product or service.
In an era when the real marketing happens inside a product, not in the ad pages of a magazine, marketing guru Seth Godin encourages readers to take on the challenge of doing the essential task of creating innovation. Godin explains that one cannot create innovation by building an organization that is automatically and effortlessly innovative. Instead, companies must create innovation by creating a desire among individuals to do the difficult work that makes innovation happen.
Whether you are a CEO, a mid-level manager or a mail-room clerk, you can be innovative and grow without relying on big advertisement campaigns or technological tricks - these are either too expensive or too difficult to execute. There is a third way: the leveraging of insightful, useful small ideas or soft innovations that anyone can come up with. When done right and championed properly, these ideas can make your business remarkable.
Avoiding Commodity Status
There are two ideologies that every product struggling not to be a commodity stands on:
- Build something no one else can build, so you can charge enough to make a profit.
- Advertise it like mad, to build a brand, so you can charge enough to make a profit.
In a completely rational world, advertising would not work. Consumers would simply consider all the choices and buy the cheapest product or the one that has a technical advantage no other product can match. In such a world, one would either have a patent or process monopoly, or would be selling products at ultra-low prices. But what fun is that?
There are plenty of products that used to be right in the middle of consumers' radar screens, products that thrived due to their sheer averageness. Mrs. Butterworth, Mr. Bubble, Mr. Coffee: these were average products for average people, sold at commodity prices. They could do that because they had great advertising; they had successfully created a brand. Every time the brand marketers spent $100 on advertising and other forms of "interruption-based" marketing, they made $200 in profit.
Those were the days. Now, some 20 years later, one product after another is fading away, for one simple reason - advertisements cannot pay for themselves anymore. We live in an information-rich era - there's too much noise, too many choices and too much clutter. Consumers are hit with spam, pop-up ads, 500 cable channels, blinking Web banners, blue-screen ads behind home plate and dozens of other interruptions. You cannot make a good living by interrupting people over and over. The TV-industrial complex is crumbling, and smart marketers are running from it and its interruption media like they were diseased. Now, they're searching for something else.
People have learned to ignore ads, and to avoid the companies that interrupt their activities to make them look at ads. The lesson for product makers is clear - just because you have money does not mean you can trade it for attention by buying advertising. And if you don't have money, don't worry - there is a better way. Marketing is no longer the sole purview of the organization's marketing department. Everyone in the company is in the marketing department.
A Purple Cow is a product or service that's remarkable, meaning simply that a customer is willing to make a remark about it. In a world of Purple Cows, when the marketing is built into the product, creating products that are innovative is actually cheaper than advertising average products. Thus, once your company recognizes that insight, it will invest the money it would have spent on advertising to create cool, innovative products, instead. Innovation is free - in fact, it is a profit center. The future belongs to companies, organizations and people who are remarkable, not boring. Copyright © 2005 Soundview Executive Book Summaries