In this useful book, Seth Godin suggests that instead of asking how to use the new internet tools to support your existing business, ask how you can change your business to take best advantage of the new tools.
[From the Great Books Series. Also see The Success Manual - Encyclopedia of Advice, which contains summaries of 100+ Most useful books.]
As the right question:
Not : "How do we use the cool new tools to support our existing structure?",
Bbut "How do we become an organization that thrives because of the new marketing?"
NtOT : "How do we use this new marketing to maintain business as usual?",
But "How can our business itself be altered?"
Ask not what the new marketing can do for you:
Ask what you can do to thrive with the new marketing.
MEATBALL: a commodity, a branded item of little differentiation and decent quality.
You can't grow with meatballs because they're ubiquitious.
Stop making meatballs, and start making something that goes very well with hot fudge and marshmallow sauce.
Nimble, intelligent organizations that are poised and prepared, ready to be propelled by the fresh tactics of the new marketing.
Old toy fairs : the manufacturers would show the sellers the commercials 9 months in advance. The commercials that got the best reception led to toys getting made. The rest were cancelled.
We make what people buy. If it doesn't sell, it doesn't get made.
Business growth comes from satisfying the people who can best leverage your ideas.
New marketing doesn't demand better marketing. It demands better products, better services, and better organizations.
Marketing doesn't support the organization. The organization supports marketing.
Making noise is fun, but making noise is not where the highest returns lie.
Hiring inexperienced employees:
It's easier to teach someone, than to unteach them first.
Marketing advice that Josiah Wedgwood might have given his unsuccessful brother Thomas:
- create new ways of glazing your goods, and novel items that people seek out
- sign your work
- increase your pricing by 400%
- establish high quality standards
- build a bigger factory and put it near a canal, one that you lobbied to have built
- train nonpotters to join your workforce, and design innovative ways to manage them
- organize the factory to reflect a separation of labor
- open showrooms in London and change the stock weekly
- focus on mass production
- sell to the richest people in the world, but avoid taking custom work except for items for heads of state
What consumers have wanted all along: to be treated with respect, and to be connected to other people.
1. DIRECT COMMUNICATION AND COMMERCE BETWEEN PRODUCERS AND CONSUMERS
An inbound email is not an expense - it's an opportunity - a chance to eliminate barriers and have a dialogue with a prospect or customer.
Organized sports saw snacks as a hassle. But (eventually realized) the game was the hassle - they were in the food business.
For many organizations, interaction with the outside world quickly becomes their most profitable opportunity.
Paying attention to inbound messaging is exactly what threadless.com does for a living.
Go from finding customers for your products, to finding products for your customers.
Instead of trying to reach the unreachable, do what actually works : start making products, services, and stories that appeal to the reachable, then build that group by serving them.
2. AMPLICATION OF THE VOICE OF THE CONSUMER AND INDEPENDENT AUTHORITIES
It's not just that individuals are discovering how much power their amplified word-of-mouth has. It's that they've wanted it for so long that they are giddy about it.
In any community (Wikipedia, Digg, YouTube) : 1% are the givers. But you don't know who those 1% are, in advance.
You can't be like that restaurant on the lookout for that one key food critic from the newspaper. Now you have to be on the lookout for everyone.
Blogs convert readers and viewers into writers.
Blogs connect three real desires : to hear our own voices, to be heard by others, and to hear what the crowd thinks.
Copyblogger says his goal is "to meet cool people with great skills and great ideas, and do business with them".
Every business has its 1% - a group of customers so motivated, so satisfied, and so connected that they want to tell the rest of the world about you and what you do. Your challenge is to give these people a megaphone.
Most people want to be like most people most of the time.
3. NEED FOR AN AUTHENTIC STORY AS THE NUMBER OF SOURCES INCREASES
Extremely short attention spans lead to clutter.
4. THE LONG TAIL
In almost every single market, "other" is the leading brand.
If you could just publish best-sellers, you would. But you can't.
In every single micromarket, the market rewards the leader : the best in the world.
You can win more often now that there are far more markets in which to win.
The number of markets is skyrocketing. Invest what it takes to be seen as the best in any market you chose to compete in.
A marketer without a factory is actually more innovative, faster-moving, and more fashion-focused. Why? Instead of trying to keep the factory busy, the marketer can focus on keeping the market busy instead.
Either what you're doing is repetitive, in which case you ought to outsource it, or it's homemade, insightful, and filled with initiative and judgement, in which case you can charge for it.
6. GOOGLE AND THE DICING OF EVERYTHING
TV shows are bundled with ads. Businesses are bundled in an office building. Book publishers bundle authors and share the expertise of their staff.
We've been bundling so long, we forgot we were doing it.
7. INFINITE CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION
Direct communication and commerce between consumers and consumers.
8. SHIFTS IN SCARCITY AND ABUNDANCE
Talent like this (Ideo) is hard to find, and bores easily when asked to work on a limited range of projects.
9. TRIUMPH OF BIG IDEAS
The idea must be embedded into the experience of the product itself. Marketing is pushed deeper into the organization.
10. SHIFT FROM "HOW MANY" TO "WHO"
The wealthy are like us.
The new bell curve: Volume and price used to be __/\__. Now it's -\/-.
The curve is reversing. Now there's a dip in the center, with humps at either end.
Most people used to buy middle-of-the-road stuff. Few bothered with the dirt-cheap or super-expensive.
But now that the cheapest is so available, it polarizes more to go for dirt-cheap or super-expensive. Wal-Mart and Whole Foods.
If I want something ordinary, then it better be cheap. I can get cheap and ordinary by the gallon at Costco.
Today's spoiled consumer is willing to pay anything for the exclusive, the noteworthy, and the indulgent.
10. NEW GATEKEEPRS, NO GATEKEEPERS
About promotion/PR: If it were me, I'd take a longer-term approach. First identify the blogs that actually do have an interest in what I'm trying to have featured. Then I'd read them. Over time, start interacting with those bloggers. Submit relevant links that have nothing to do with my company. Post comments on the field in general. Become part of the circle. Then months or even years later, when I have something relevant to add, I can send a truly personal note to someone I've interacted with.
Much promotion doesn't work because just knowing about something isn't the same as being excited about it, using it, or best of all: talking about it.
11. CRITICAL MASS CHECKLIST
1. Do more users benefit the other users by bringing down prices or increasing the power of communication?
2. Are we falsely relying on the masses to solve problems that are obvious when we have small numbers of customers?
3. How can we lower the number of users we'll need before the benefits of critical mass kick in?
4. Does style matter? Are we betting people will become our customers because "everyone else is doing it"? If so, how do we realistically cross that chasm?
12. We aren't in charge : create an environment where other people could have a conversation.
Transform your company into an organization that makes stories.
Given an authentic story that matches our worldview, we'll believe it.
Given the chance to speak up, we'll do just that - loudly and often.
If you want to be in the commodity business, be my guest. If you want to sell large quantities of cheap stuff, you're welcome to it.
The rest of us, though, are going to grow fast using our knowledge of human nature and the new marketing that allows people to express that nature.
You're doomed to sell a slow-growing commodity only if you want to.
Any product, from a cardboard notebook to an accounting firm, can now be transformed, using the tools that are available to everyone.
Ideas that spread through groups of people are far more powerful than ideas delivered AT someone.
Create a movement around your product or service.