Since I heard Seth Godin (a “guru” in online marketing) speak yesterday morning, I have not been able to stop thinking about some of his key messages. I’ll explain why I keep thinking about them at the end of this entry. I’m also very interested in your comments – what do you think are the best ways to get a message to spread?
The Old Way to Spread a Message: The old model of marketing was to try and interrupt as many people as you can with impersonal messages (through TV advertisements, magazine ads, billboards, etc) – and if you spent $1 getting your word out by interrupting people and made $1.10 in return, then you could spend it interrupting more people. Most CEOs and marketing people think that this same approach applies on the Internet and with online communication. Although this same (and frequently annoying) approach might still meet some degree of success online (in buying sponsored key-words, sending emails, putting up banner-ads) – ultimately the old model will fail in this new medium when head-to-head with what actually works.
The reality is that there are so many channels of information sources now that people can often ignore a company, even when it is spending billions of dollars in trying to interrupt you. Unless it is directly relevant or at least mildly entertaining, then they do not have time and they do not care. You can keep polishing your message, but it is simply a little pin in a wicked-huge haystack!
The main point:
Create something worth talking about. If you do not have that step, the next step will not mean much at all. (You can not buy attention, not effectively, not widespread.)
Ideas that spread, win.
In the middle (the majority) people strive to be average (only we live in a world where everything is usually good enough and we don’t have much time so we usually just pick what is either cheaper or closer), but on the edges people wait in line.
Definition of remarkable = worth making a remark about. If people remark about it, then the idea spreads.
Be remarkable (if you do not do this, do not go to step 2) – tell a story to your “sneezers” (the early adopters and innovators) – they spread the word (do what used to be your job) – get permission (the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal, and relevant messages – the kind that if they don’t come then people complain about not getting them).
There are two ways to get married: 1. Go to a singles bar, and the first girl you meet ask her right away to marry you. If she says no, then go to the next girl and ask her. If she says no, then go to the next one until you can find one who says yes (i.e. impersonal widespread invitations). 2. Find a girl, date her and get to know her, when you see there is a match then ask her to marry you (i.e. building a meaningful, welcome relationship). Most of marketing takes the first approach. The better thing to do is to create products, services, messages that people actually care about, and want to talk about and have more of. And of course, web analytics is one tool (of many) that can help people determine who is on the site, what do they care about, and how to customize the experience more on a one-to-one basis.
Personal Application: I started to think about an idea that my sister and I have been working on for a couple months now. Originally we were just thinking about it in terms of a really cool children’s book (which I think could be a bit hit). After Seth’s talk, I started to think of other ways to use the technology available to customize, enhance, and easily spread it in a way that would make it something worth talking about. Does anyone who has programming skills want to find out more and see if you want to help me develop the idea?
Questions: Do you agree with Seth that the Internet has changed our lives in the ways mentioned? What do you think are the best ways to get a message to spread?