The Thought Police

Alienating the 2%

Great read from Seth Godin…

“When a popular rock group comes to town, some of their fans won’t get great tickets. Not enough room in the front row. Now they’re annoyed. 2% of them are angry enough to speak up or badmouth or write an angry letter.

When Disney changes a policy and offers a great new feature or benefit to the most dedicated fans, 2% of them won’t be able to use it… timing or transport or resources or whatever. They’re angry and they let the brand know it.

Do the math. Every time Apple delights 10,000 people, they hear from 200 angry customers, people who don’t like the change or the opportunity or the risk it represents.

If you have fans or followers or customers, no matter what you do, you’ll annoy or disappoint two percent of them. And you’ll probably hear a lot more from the unhappy 2% than from the delighted 98.

It seems as though there are only two ways to deal with this: Stop innovating, just stagnate. Or go ahead and delight the vast majority.

Sure, you can try to minimize the cost of change, and you might even get the number to 1%. But if you try to delight everyone, all the time, you’ll just make yourself crazy. Or become boring.”

“Smart Meeting Checklist”

This is a great list…

Smart Meeting Checklist

  • Would skipping this meeting help or hurt our ability to ship?
  • Could it be a Wiki or Basecamp (type) meeting instead?
  • If we have to have the meeting, can we do it in a room with no chairs?
  • Can we invite fewer people? How few?
  • What’s the purpose of this meeting? Pick one of the following (only one). If there’s more than one, skip the meeting.
    • Inform people about the project
    • Learn opinions or facts that will help you ship
    • Discuss the project and gain input from interested parties
    • Pitch or approve the idea
  • After we’re finished, how will we know if the meeting was a success?”

Twelve years ago I learned from a colleague about the power of a “stand-up-ten-minute meeting.”

This check-list from Seth Godin’s “SHIPIT: A little pamphlet for people who can,” is a great affirmation of just that concept, and its effectiveness.

Seth Godin Action Figure?

At THIS EVENT (Nov 13th Session), we were given these cool Seth Godin action figures (disclaimer: Seth made us promise to see the humor in it before he actually would allow us to keep “him”).


Inside, is a little purple booklet duly named “The Little Book of Marketing Secrets,” by Seth Godin.

Thought it might be beneficial to share the 12-marketing secrets included (copyright Seth Godin – no date specified, although action figure packaging has copyright date of 2007):

Marketing Secret #1 – Marketing is what happens when you tell a story (a true story, and authentic story) to the right people and the choose to believe it. And then they spread it. If you do it right, people take the actions you are hoping for. Tell the wrong story, you lose. Tell no story, you lose.

Marketing Secret #2 – The best stories don’t tell anything new. They make the audience feel smart and secure by reminding them how right they were in the first place.

Marketing Secret #3 – If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. If you don’t have an ad worth reading and acting upon, don’t run it.

Marketing Secret #4 – Anticipated, personal and relevant messages always outperform spam.

Marketing Secret #5 – A message aimed at everyone rarely reaches anyone. Be vivid. Tell a Story. Don’t be bland.

Marketing Secret #6 – The best marketing is a really great product.

Marketing Secret #7 – It’s no longer good enough to be good enough.

Marketing Secret #8 – The only asset you can build online is a permission asset: The privilege of marketing to people who want to be marketed to, of selling to people who want to be sold to.

Marketing Secret #9 – If you’re not remarkable, you’re now invisible.

Marketing Secret #10 – The easiest way to be remarkable is to compromise less, not more.

Marketing Secret #11 – The customer is always right. When the customers isn’t right, they’re not your customer anymore. Fire them.

Marketing Secret #12 – Would you put your name on it? If you wouldn’t, don’t do it, because your name IS on it.

$150,000,000 in iPads in One Day?

You can’t deny Apple’s ability to crush it, regardless if their products work for you or not (don’t for me, do for wife).

Here’s an excellent post from Seth Godin on Apple:

[You’re getting this note because you subscribed to Seth Godin’s blog.]

Secrets of the biggest selling launch ever

Apple reports that on the first day they sold more than $150,000,000 worth of iPads. I can’t think of a product or movie or any other launch that has ever come close to generating that much direct revenue.

Are their tactics are reserved for giant consumer fads? I don’t think so. In fact, they work even better for smaller gigs and more focused markets.

  1. Earn a permission asset. Over 25 years, Apple has earned the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to their tribe. They can get the word out about a new product without a lot of money because one by one, they’ve signed people up. They didn’t sell 300,000 iPads in one day, they sold them over a few decades.
  2. Don’t try to please everyone. There are countless people who don’t want one, haven’t heard of one or actively hate it. So what? (Please don’t gloss over this one just because it’s short. In fact, it’s the biggest challenge on this list).
  3. Make a product worth talking about. Sounds obvious. If it’s so obvious, then why don’t the other big companies ship stuff like this? Most of them are paralyzed going to meetings where they sand off the rough edges.
  4. Make it easy for people to talk about you. Steve doesn’t have a blog. He doesn’t tweet and you can’t friend him on Facebook. That’s okay. The tribe loves to talk, and the iPad gave them something to talk about.
  5. Build a platform for others to play in. Not just your users, but for people who want to reach your users.
  6. Create a culture of wonder. Microsoft certainly has the engineers, the developers and the money to launch this. So why did they do the Zune instead? Because they never did the hard cultural work of creating the internal expectation that shipping products like this is possible and important.
  7. Be willing to fail. Bold bets succeed–and sometimes they don’t. Is that okay with you? Launching the iPad had to be even more frightening than launching a book…
  8. Give the tribe a badge. The cool thing about marketing the iPad is that it’s a visible symbol, a uniform. If you have one in the office on Monday, you were announcing your membership. And if it says, “sent from my iPad” on the bottom of your emails…
  9. Don’t give up so easy. Apple clearly a faced a technical dip in creating this product… they worked on it for more than a dozen years. Most people would have given up long ago.
  10. Don’t worry so much about conventional wisdom. The iPad is a closed system (not like the web) because so many Apple users like closed systems.

And the one thing I’d caution you about:

  1. Don’t worry so much about having a big launch day. It looks good in the newspaper, but almost every successful brand or product (Nike, JetBlue, Starbucks, IBM…) didn’t start that way.

A few things that will make it work even better going forward:

  1. Create a product that works better when your friends have one too. Some things (like a Costco membership or even email) fit into that category, because if more people join, the prices will go down or access will go up. Others (like the unlisted number to a great hot restaurant) don’t.
  2. Make it cheap enough or powerful enough that organizations buy a lot at a time. To give away. To use as a tool.
  3. Change the home screen so I can see more than twenty apps at a time (sorry, that was just me.)

As promised, the folks at Vook made their deadline and were ready on launch day. It’s early days, but it’s pretty clear to me that the way authors with ideas will share them is going to change pretty radically, just as the iPad demonstrates that the way people interact with the web is going to keep changing as well.

Advertiser vs. Consumer!

This is a very good (& funny) video depicting the pitfalls of print media and other traditional forms of advertising… pair it with the earlier post, “The Big Drop Off” by Seth Godin, and hopefully it will all come together for you.

Successful Pro Lumberyards that we’ve dealt with have all had one thing in common: a very loyal “first circle.” The question then becomes, “How do we get the first circle to keep talking about us?” Now we’re getting into the effectiveness of WOMM.


Lumberyards might want to re-think that “next $5,000” they spend on advertising. A couple of good quotes we frequently reference:

(1) “Advertising is the cost of being boring. If your customers won’t talk about your stuff, you have to pay newspapers to get people to talk about you.” –Andy Sernovitz, Word of Mouth Marketing Book

(2) “Advertising…can work for MegaBrands like Coke…for the rest of us, traditional advertising is so wide and broad that it is ineffective.” –DM Scott, The New Rules of Marketing & PR

Instead of advertising to the masses, wouldn’t it be a more effective to get your loyal customers (first circle) TALKing, and telling their colleagues about your exceptional service and products?

Rally your fans! They’re often your best salespeople…

Golden State Warriors vs YOU!

Do we work this hard to get new customers?  (And if you think about it, none of what they did really even cost them that much $$…)

[post by Andy Sernovitz]

In professional sports, the term “free agent” refers to an athlete who is free to sign a contract with any team. But, as one sports writer pondered, what happens when a fan declares their own free agency? Free for anyone to earn and sign?

Scott Soshnick sent the same memo to every team in the four major U.S. sports leagues: The NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and the NHL. In it, Scott declared his free agency as a fan, said he was theirs for the taking, and offered a lifetime of allegiance. All they had to do was tell him why he should pick their team.

Of the 122 teams that make up the four major leagues, all but nine ignored Scott’s note. Eight of those that responded made offers ranging from marketing materials to invitations to use the owner’s court-side seats — all pretty amazing considering 113 teams didn’t respond at all.

But one team, the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, went all out. In addition to sending Scott his own personalized Warriors jersey, they also:

  • Called to say they wanted him as a fan and asked for a photo
  • Had 28 employees from various departments send him emails
  • Had fellow New Yorker and then-Warriors General Manager Chris Mullin call to make the team’s case
  • Sent Scott a “We Believe” slogan T-shirt with his face on it
  • Put together a mock press release announcing a new fan acquisition
  • Created a highlight DVD with rookies wearing Scott’s personalized jersey
  • Sent Scott a $1 lifetime contract, signed by Mullin

The Lesson: It can be astonishing at how little effort the majority of your competitors are making in doing special things to earn new fans. Yet, at the same time, every industry has their version of the Warriors — an organization that loves to amaze customers with fantastic service and special treatment.

When building your word of mouth program, the little things are a great start — they’ll quickly put you among the minority of companies willing to wow their customers. But we’d encourage you to not just settle for beating the lazy guys. Instead, assume your industry has someone working as hard as the Warriors and aim to outdo them.”

Pretty cool…  

The Big Drop Off

An excellent post this morning from Seth Godin; try and relate it to your WOMM campaigns and strategy!

“The big drop off

We try so hard to build the first circle.

This is the circle of followers, friends, subscribers, customers, media outlets and others willing to hear our pitch. This is the group we tell about our new product, our new record, our upcoming big sale. We want more of their attention and more people on the list.

Which takes our attention away from the circle that matters, which is the second circle.

The second circle are the people who hear about us from the first circle.

If the first circle is excited about what we do and it’s remarkable enough to talk about, they’ll tell two or six or ten friends each. And if we’re really good, the second circle, the people we don’t even know–they’ll tell the third circle. And it’s the third circle that makes you a hit, gets you elected and tips your idea.

The big drop off is the natural state of affairs. The big drop off is the huge decline that occurs between our enthusiasm (HEY! BUY THIS!) and the tepid actions of the first circle (yawn). Great marketers don’t spend their time making the first circle bigger. They spend all their time crafting services, products and stories that don’t drop off.”

The original Post can be found here.

The Purpose of a Book Cover

Post from Seth Godon’s Blog:

The purpose of a book cover

(and I think it works for lots of products)

Is the purpose of the cover to sell books, to accurately describe what’s in the book, or to tee up the reader so the book has maximum impact?

The third.

It’s the third because if the book has maximum impact, then word of mouth is created, and word of mouth is what sells your product, not the cover.

Tactically, the cover sells the back cover, the back cover sells the flap and by then you’ve sold the book. If those steps end up selling a book that the purchaser doesn’t like, game over. So you have to be consistent all the way through and end up creating a conversation after the purchase. Books are better at creating conversations than most products (when was the last time you talked about a pool cue), but there’s lots of opportunity here, no matter what you make.

Some ways that a book cover can accomplish its mission:

  • Iconic (because iconic items tend to signal ‘important’)
  • Noticeable across the room (you see that lots of other people own it, thus making it likely that you’ll want to know why)
  • Sophisticated (because this helps reinforce that the ideas inside are worthy of your time)
  • Original (why bother reading a book you already know)
  • Clever
  • Funny
  • Generic (reminding you of a genre or another book you liked, not generic as in boring)

I don’t know about you, but I judge books by their cover every day.”