By official proclamation it's Free Prize Day here at Decent Marketing, where we're celebrating the launch of Seth Godin's new book "Free Prize Inside!: The Next Big Idea in Marketing". I asked him a couple of questions about it, and he was kind enough to share his answers with us as part of the Business Blog Book Tour.
Decent Marketing: In your discussion of Edgecraft in the book, you provide a list of edges. (According to Godin, Edgecraft is " ... a methodical, measurable process that allows individuals and teams to inexorably identify the soft innovations that live on the edges of what already exists.") I'm wondering what you think about Experiences as an edge, for example the Build-A-Bear Workshop company changing the way people buy teddy bears, from pulling them down off of a shelf to making them themselves, and paying more for the privilege?
Seth Godin: YES! This is a great edge. I’m going to have to add it to the footnotes (updated regularly at www.freeprizeinside.com). Thanks.
Turning your product or brand or service into an “experience” is the latest fad in marketing. Alas, many marketers view it as a checklist item—“okay, we let them fill up their own bag,” or “okay, we did a nationwide tour in a tractor trailer” but fail to go all the way to the edge. And it’s going all the way that matters so much.
Hershey is making piles and piles of money with their experiential boutique in Times Square. There’s a machine there where people wait 20 minutes on a busy Saturday (I shouldn’t say ‘people,’ I should say ‘tourists’) to press a button and watch a machine gravity feed various mediocre Hershey products into a bag—for twice the price of the very same product at the drugstore down the street.
Is it working? Well, they’re making a lot of money. But are they creating an idea that spreads? Does a profitable gravity-feed device at a super-touristy location lead to a transformation, something that turns them into Willy Wonka? Hardly.
Consumers are more jaded than ever. A mediocre experience that takes no risks, that stretches no boundaries doesn’t get talked about. When those tourists get home, how many of their friends will hear about it? How many of those friends will now have a very different opinion of Hershey’s?
Decent Marketing: You talk a lot about the importance of being a champion for your ideas, how to turn no into yes, why it's important not to give up, etc. Yet you also point out on page 119 the fact that most companies " ... get to the point where they're too stuck to want to do much that is new." I have friends at major corporations who are using many of the tactics you suggest to try and implement great soft innovations, but they're drowning in quicksand. They don't give up because they think maybe, just maybe, they'll be the one to change things, and they're very passionate. How does one know when to stick in there, or when the time has come to leave and go find a place where people "get" it?
Seth Godin: I talk about the fulcrum, and the idea that you can’t leverage your idea without help. Usually, the people who are stuck are misusing one part of the fulcrum… they want their boss to take responsibility for their project. Well, the boss didn’t get to be the boss by taking responsibility for ideas she isn’t crazy about. The people who tend to get cool things done are the ones who say, “I take responsibility for this. It’s going to work… I’ll stake my reputation on it.” (cause, hey, even if you don’t say that, that’s what’s happening anyway!) Once you start doing this with small projects and succeeding, it’s inevitable you’ll be able to do it with big projects too.
I'd like to thank Seth for sharing his ideas with us and I encourage you to get out there and get his book "Free Prize Inside!". And as if that weren't enough, he's also got a new E-book out called "Bull Market 2004: Companies That Can Help You Make Things Happen." I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet, but the title has sucked me in and I'm definitely putting it on my list of things to check out. You can find it at http://sethgodin.typepad.com/freeprize/.