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Unleashing the Ideavirus

Unleashing the Ideavirus

4.3 10
by Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell

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The book that sparked a marketing revolution."

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


The book that sparked a marketing revolution."

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.

Editorial Reviews

A marketer with the zeal of a missionary advocates the idea that information about a product is spread most effectively from customer to customer. He argues that the public doesn't want to hear from traditional marketers anymore, shows how companies such as Napster, Hotmail, and GeoCities have successfully launched "idea viruses," and identifies successful techniques for propagating them. Distributed by Dearborn Publishing. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

Hachette Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.62(d)
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Section 1: Why Ideas Matter

Farms, Factories And Idea Merchants

magine for a second that you're at your business school reunion, trading lies and bragging about how successful you are and/or are about to become. Frank the jock talks about the dot-com company he just started. Suzie the ex-banker is now focusing her energy on rebuilding Eastern Europe. And then the group looks at you. With a wry look of amusement, you answer:

"Well, the futurethe really big money-is in owning a farm. A small one, maybe 100 acres. I intend to invest in a tractor of course, and expect that in just a few years my husband and I can cash out and buy ourselves a nice little brownstone in the city."

Ludicrous, no? While owning a farm may bring tremendous lifestyle benefits, it hasn't been a ticket to wealth for, say, 200 years.

What about owning a factory then? Perhaps the road to riches in the new economy would be to buy yourself a hotstamping press and start turning out steel widgets. Get the UAW to organize your small, dedicated staff of craftsmen and you're on your way to robber-baron status.

Most of us can agree that the big money went out of owning a factory about thirty years ago. When you've got high fixed costs and you're competing against other folks who also know how to produce both quantity and quality, unseemly profits fly right out the window.

Fact is, the first 100 years of our country's history were about who could build the biggest, most efficient farm. And the second century focused on the race to build factories. Welcome to the third century, folks. The third century is about ideas.

Alas, nobody has a clue how to build a farm forideas, or even a factory for ideas. We recognize that ideas are driving the economy, ideas are making people rich and most important, ideas are changing the world. Even though we're clueless about how to best organize the production of ideas, 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. So how do you win? What do you need to do to change the status quo of whatever industry you're in, or, if you're lucky, to change the world?

If you're a farmer, you want nothing more than a high price for your soybeans. If you're a manufacturer of consumer goods, you want a display at the cash register at Wal-Mart. But what if you're an idea merchant..

What People are Saying About This

Jay Levinson
Jay Levinson, author of Guerrilla Marketing:

Take Leo Burnett, David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach and Mark Twain. Combine their brains and shave their heads. What's left? Seth Godin.

Meet the Author

Seth Godin is the author of numerous books, including the national bestseller Permission Marketing. He was the founder of Yoyodyne, the first direct marketer on the Internet, which was acquired by Yahoo! in 1998. Godin served as Vice President of Direct Marketing for Yahoo! until early 2000, when he left to devote time to writing and speaking.

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Unleashing the Ideavirus 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Seth has a way of getting and keeping your attention in a quirky, yet realistic 'no fluff, way. As a marketing consultant, it's always about quickly doubling my clients effectiveness--this book has helped me to TRIPLE my effectiveness
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Unleashing the Ideavirus, Seth Godin says your idea is contagious, like the flu. But hold on ¿ he¿s not being insulting. If you think of your idea as a virus, says he, you can ¿infect¿ the marketplace by motivating customers to talk about your product. He stretches this metaphor to explain how to captivate powerful ¿sneezers¿ so they will spread the word. Not a pretty picture, if you are a literal type of person, but you get the concept. For the right product or service, this is an alternative to advertising (or, as Godin calls it, ¿interruption marketing¿). Though he builds on multi-level marketing concepts, Godin distances himself from their negative image. He writes in a breezy, easy style, with examples, charts and illustrations. If you want to spread the word about this book, we suggest that you just cough politely on someone in marketing, advertising or sales.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I came across the "Ideavirus" article by Seth Godin in the August 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine, complete with the ideavirus postcard, I knew I was terminal! When I realized it also came as a full length book - I was completely inoperable. Ideavirus was such an extraordinary source of inspiration that I kept that issue of Fast Company and the postcard to this day. That year, I was charged with creating yet another earth-shattering, planetary orbit-interrupting new product launch public relations campaign for a national consumer healthcare heartburn remedy. Well, let me tell you - over-the-counter/non-prescription heartburn remedies are neither interesting NOR earth-shattering. So what do you do? I personally am unable to do predictable, boring repeats of any kind. I need to constantly improve and make things FRESH. But how do you do that when things start to get "old"? You look for shreds of inspiration, knit them together, and then UNLEASH AN IDEAVIRUS!!!!!!! After identifying my client's product's target audience of "sneezers" and influencers (peer experts) and creating a multi-pronged on and off line dazzlingly strategic creative campaign, it then won an illustrious industry award. Not bad for a $12 to $14 investment, huh? If you don't take yourself or your job too seriously, you can create and unleash an effective ideavirus just like Seth says.
Guest More than 1 year ago
New York Times bestselling author of 'Permission Marketing', and founder of Yoyodyne - the Internet direct marketer acquired by Yahoo in 1998 - Seth Godin is the man BusinessWeek named 'the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age'. With the release of 'Unleashing the Ideavirus', Godin lives up to his reputation by becoming the first bestselling author to release a book in its entirety online, for free, in parallel to its release as a regular hardcover. As an e-book, 'Ideavirus' is available as a PDF file on Godin's ideavirus website, in a Peanut Press edition, and an Express Reader edition from Qvadis for Palm-based devices. 'Unleashing the Ideavirus' is a manifesto that says that in the new economy, ideas that spread fastest win. Its core message is that the best ideas act like viruses, and become contagious. And, contrary to the thesis of traditional marketing, which shapes and controls the dissemination of product information from business to customer, Godin suggests that, instead, information spreads most effectively from customer to customer. Furthermore, the marketer's role is not to market, but to prepare both the 'ideavirus' and an environment most conducive for that idea to replicate and spread. It's a challenging thesis, made even more thought-provoking by the fact that the e-book itself is an ideavirus. And by making the entire book available online, Godin has both set a new standard for successful authors, and challenged the current economics of book publishing and marketing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The recent bloodbath among online content peddlers and digital media proselytisers can be traced to two deadly sins. The first was to assume that traffic equals sales. In other words, that a miraculous conversion will spontaneously occur among the hordes of visitors to a web site. It was taken as an article of faith that a certain percentage of this mass will inevitably and nigh hypnotically reach for their bulging pocketbooks and purchase content, however packaged. Moreover, ad revenues (more reasonably) were assumed to be closely correlated with 'eyeballs'. This myth led to an obsession with counters, page hits, impressions, unique visitors, statistics and demographics. It failed, however, to take into account the dwindling efficacy of what Seth Godin, in his brilliant essay ('Unleashing the IdeaVirus'), calls 'Interruption Marketing' - ads, banners, spam and fliers. It also ignored, at its peril, the ethos of free content and open source prevalent among the Internet opinion leaders, movers and shapers. These two neglected aspects of Internet hype and culture led to the trouncing of erstwhile promising web media companies while their business models were exposed as wishful thinking. The second mistake was to exclusively cater to the needs of a highly idiosyncratic group of people (Silicone Valley geeks and nerds). The assumption that the USA (let alone the rest of the world) is Silicone Valley writ large proved to be calamitous to the industry. In the 1970s and 1980s, evolutionary biologists like Richard Dawkins and Rupert Sheldrake developed models of cultural evolution. Dawkins' 'meme' is a cultural element (like a behaviour or an idea) passed from one individual to another and from one generation to another not through biological -genetic means - but by imitation. Sheldrake added the notion of contagion - 'morphic resonance' - which causes behaviour patterns to suddenly emerged in whole populations. Physicists talked about sudden 'phase transitions', the emergent results of a critical mass reached. A latter day thinker, Michael Gladwell, called it the 'tipping point'. Seth Godin invented the concept of an 'ideavirus' and an attendant marketing terminology. In a nutshell, he says, to use his own summation: 'Marketing by interrupting people isn't cost-effective anymore. You can't afford to seek out people and send them unwanted marketing, in large groups and hope that some will send you money. Instead the future belongs to marketers who establish a foundation and process where interested people can market to each other. Ignite consumer networks and then get out of the way and let them talk.' This is sound advice with a shaky conclusion. The conversion from exposure to a marketing message (even from peers within a consumer network) - to an actual sale is a convoluted, multi-layered, highly complex process. It is not a 'black box', better left unattended to. It is the same deadly sin all over again - the belief in a miraculous conversion. And it is highly US-centric. People in other parts of the world interact entirely differently. Two successful authors, Melisse J. Rose and Doug Clepp, are now in the process of constructing a web site that will institutionalise 'buzz marketing' (a technique they successfully applied to their own products). They intend to help authors to mine the Internet for readers who will then interact with other readers to generate a favourable 'hum'. As the author of this column can attest - after 500,000 visitors to his web site (http://samvak.tripod.com ) and discussion lists with more than 3000 members - you can get them to visit and you get them to talk and you can get them to excite others. But to get them to buy - is a whole different ballgame. Dot.coms had better begin to study its rules. Sam Vaknin, author of 'Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited'