Videos How to get your ideas to spread | Seth Godin 13 min read 3 years ago Admin@ Transcript 0:25 I’m going to give you four specific examples, 0:28 I’m going to cover... Transcript 0:25 I’m going to give you four specific examples, 0:28 I’m going to cover at the end 0:30 about how a company called Silk tripled their sales; 0:32 how an artist named Jeff Koons went from being a nobody 0:36 to making a whole bunch of money and having a lot of impact; 0:39 to how Frank Gehry redefined what it meant to be an architect. 0:42 And one of my biggest failures as a marketer in the last few years — 0:46 a record label I started that had a CD called “Sauce.” 0:50 Before I can do that I’ve got to tell you about sliced bread, 0:53 and a guy named Otto Rohwedder. 0:54 Now, before sliced bread was invented in the 1910s 0:58 I wonder what they said? 1:00 Like the greatest invention since the telegraph or something. 1:03 But this guy named Otto Rohwedder invented sliced bread, 1:06 and he focused, like most inventors did, on the patent part and the making part. 1:11 And the thing about the invention of sliced bread is this — 1:14 that for the first 15 years after sliced bread was available 1:18 no one bought it; no one knew about it; 1:21 it was a complete and total failure. 1:23 And the reason is that until Wonder came along 1:28 and figured out how to spread the idea of sliced bread, 1:32 no one wanted it. 1:33 That the success of sliced bread, 1:35 like the success of almost everything we’ve talked about at this conference, 1:39 is not always about what the patent is like, or what the factory is like — 1:45 it’s about can you get your idea to spread, or not. 1:49 And I think that the way you’re going to get what you want, 1:52 or cause the change that you want to change, to happen, 1:55 is to figure out a way to get your ideas to spread. 1:57 And it doesn’t matter to me whether you’re running a coffee shop 2:01 or you’re an intellectual, or you’re in business, 2:03 or you’re flying hot air balloons. 2:06 I think that all this stuff applies to everybody regardless of what we do. 2:12 That what we are living in is a century of idea diffusion. 2:17 That people who can spread ideas, regardless of what those ideas are, win. 2:21 When I talk about it I usually pick business, 2:23 because they make the best pictures that you can put in your presentation, 2:27 and because it’s the easiest sort of way to keep score. 2:30 But I want you to forgive me when I use these examples 2:32 because I’m talking about anything that you decide to spend your time to do. 2:36 At the heart of spreading ideas is TV and stuff like TV. 2:41 TV and mass media made it really easy to spread ideas in a certain way. 2:47 I call it the “TV-industrial complex.” 2:50 The way the TV-industrial complex works, is you buy some ads, 2:53 interrupt some people, that gets you distribution. 2:56 You use the distribution you get to sell more products. 3:00 You take the profit from that to buy more ads. 3:03 And it goes around and around and around, 3:05 the same way that the military-industrial complex worked a long time ago. 3:09 That model of, and we heard it yesterday — 3:11 if we could only get onto the homepage of Google, 3:13 if we could only figure out how to get promoted there, 3:16 or grab that person by the throat, 3:18 and tell them about what we want to do. 3:20 If we did that then everyone would pay attention, and we would win. 3:24 Well, this TV-industrial complex informed my entire childhood and probably yours. 3:30 I mean, all of these products succeeded because someone figured out 3:35 how to touch people in a way they weren’t expecting, 3:38 in a way they didn’t necessarily want, with an ad, 3:40 over and over again until they bought it. 3:42 And the thing that’s happened is, they canceled the TV-industrial complex. 3:47 That just over the last few years, 3:49 what anybody who markets anything has discovered 3:52 is that it’s not working the way that it used to. 3:54 This picture is really fuzzy, I apologize; I had a bad cold when I took it. 3:58 (Laughter) 4:00 But the product in the blue box in the center is my poster child. 4:03 I go to the deli; I’m sick; I need to buy some medicine. 4:07 The brand manager for that blue product spent 100 million dollars 4:10 trying to interrupt me in one year. 4:12 100 million dollars interrupting me with TV commercials 4:15 and magazine ads and Spam 4:17 and coupons and shelving allowances and spiff — 4:20 all so I could ignore every single message. 4:23 And I ignored every message 4:25 because I don’t have a pain reliever problem. 4:27 I buy the stuff in the yellow box because I always have. 4:29 And I’m not going to invest a minute of my time to solve her problem, 4:34 because I don’t care. 4:36 Here’s a magazine called “Hydrate.” It’s 180 pages about water. 4:41 (Laughter) 4:42 Articles about water, ads about water. 4:45 Imagine what the world was like 40 years ago, 4:48 with just the Saturday Evening Post and Time and Newsweek. 4:51 Now there are magazines about water. 4:53 New product from Coke Japan: water salad. 4:56 (Laughter) 4:57 Coke Japan comes out with a new product every three weeks, 5:02 because they have no idea what’s going to work and what’s not. 5:05 I couldn’t have written this better myself. 5:07 It came out four days ago — 5:09 I circled the important parts so you can see them here. 5:13 They’ve come out… 5:14 Arby’s is going to spend 85 million dollars promoting an oven mitt 5:18 with the voice of Tom Arnold, 5:21 hoping that that will get people to go to Arby’s and buy a roast beef sandwich. 5:26 (Laughter) 5:27 Now, I had tried to imagine what could possibly be in an animated TV commercial 5:32 featuring Tom Arnold, that would get you to get in your car, 5:36 drive across town and buy a roast beef sandwich. 5:39 (Laughter) 5:40 Now, this is Copernicus, and he was right, 5:44 when he was talking to anyone who needs to hear your idea. 5:46 “The world revolves around me.” 5:48 Me, me, me, me. My favorite person — me. 5:51 I don’t want to get email from anybody; I want to get “memail.” 5:54 (Laughter) 5:56 So consumers, and I don’t just mean people who buy stuff at the Safeway; 6:02 I mean people at the Defense Department who might buy something, 6:05 or people at, you know, the New Yorker who might print your article. 6:08 Consumers don’t care about you at all; they just don’t care. 6:13 Part of the reason is — they’ve got way more choices than they used to, 6:17 and way less time. 6:19 And in a world where we have too many choices and too little time, 6:23 the obvious thing to do is just ignore stuff. 6:27 And my parable here is you’re driving down the road 6:31 and you see a cow, and you keep driving because you’ve seen cows before. 6:35 Cows are invisible. Cows are boring. 6:38 Who’s going to stop and pull over and say — “Oh, look, a cow.” 6:41 Nobody. 6:42 (Laughter) 6:44 But if the cow was purple — isn’t that a great special effect? 6:48 I could do that again if you want. 6:49 If the cow was purple, you’d notice it for a while. 6:54 I mean, if all cows were purple you’d get bored with those, too. 6:57 The thing that’s going to decide what gets talked about, 7:01 what gets done, what gets changed, 7:03 what gets purchased, what gets built, 7:05 is: “Is it remarkable?” 7:08 And “remarkable” is a really cool word, 7:10 because we think it just means “neat,” 7:12 but it also means “worth making a remark about.” 7:16 And that is the essence of where idea diffusion is going. 7:21 That two of the hottest cars in the United States 7:24 is a 55,000-dollar giant car, 7:27 big enough to hold a Mini in its trunk. 7:30 People are paying full price for both, 7:32 and the only thing they have in common 7:35 is that they don’t have anything in common. 7:38 (Laughter) 7:39 Every week, the number one best-selling DVD in America changes. 7:45 It’s never “The Godfather,” it’s never “Citizen Kane,” 7:48 it’s always some third-rate movie with some second-rate star. 7:51 But the reason it’s number one is because that’s the week it came out. 7:56 Because it’s new, because it’s fresh. 7:58 People saw it and said “I didn’t know that was there” 8:01 and they noticed it. 8:02 Two of the big success stories of the last 20 years in retail — 8:05 one sells things that are super-expensive in a blue box, 8:08 and one sells things that are as cheap as they can make them. 8:11 The only thing they have in common is that they’re different. 8:14 We’re now in the fashion business, no matter what we do for a living, 8:18 we’re in the fashion business. 8:19 And people in the fashion business 8:21 know what it’s like to be in the fashion business — they’re used to it. 8:24 The rest of us have to figure out how to think that way. 8:27 How to understand 8:28 that it’s not about interrupting people with big full-page ads, 8:32 or insisting on meetings with people. 8:34 But it’s a totally different sort of process 8:37 that determines which ideas spread, and which ones don’t. 8:40 They sold a billion dollars’ worth of Aeron chairs 8:44 by reinventing what it meant to sell a chair. 8:47 They turned a chair from something the purchasing department bought, 8:51 to something that was a status symbol about where you sat at work. 8:55 This guy, Lionel Poilâne, the most famous baker in the world — 8:58 he died two and a half months ago, 9:01 and he was a hero of mine and a dear friend. 9:03 He lived in Paris. 9:04 Last year, he sold 10 million dollars’ worth of French bread. 9:08 Every loaf baked in a bakery he owned, 9:11 by one baker at a time, in a wood-fired oven. 9:14 And when Lionel started his bakery, the French pooh-pooh-ed it. 9:18 They didn’t want to buy his bread. 9:19 It didn’t look like “French bread.” 9:21 It wasn’t what they expected. 9:22 It was neat; it was remarkable; 9:25 and slowly, it spread from one person to another person 9:29 until finally, it became the official bread of three-star restaurants in Paris. 9:33 Now he’s in London, and he ships by FedEx all around the world. 9:36 What marketers used to do is make average products for average people. 9:42 That’s what mass marketing is. 9:43 Smooth out the edges; go for the center; that’s the big market. 9:48 They would ignore the geeks, and God forbid, the laggards. 9:52 It was all about going for the center. 9:54 But in a world where the TV-industrial complex is broken, 9:58 I don’t think that’s a strategy we want to use any more. 10:00 I think the strategy we want to use is to not market to these people 10:04 because they’re really good at ignoring you. 10:06 But market to these people because they care. 10:10 These are the people who are obsessed with something. 10:14 And when you talk to them, they’ll listen, 10:16 because they like listening — it’s about them. 10:19 And if you’re lucky, they’ll tell their friends on the rest of the curve, 10:23 and it’ll spread. 10:24 It’ll spread to the entire curve. 10:26 They have something I call “otaku” — it’s a great Japanese word. 10:30 It describes the desire of someone who’s obsessed to say, 10:33 drive across Tokyo to try a new ramen noodle place, 10:35 because that’s what they do: they get obsessed with it. 10:38 To make a product, to market an idea, 10:41 to come up with any problem you want to solve 10:43 that doesn’t have a constituency with an otaku, 10:46 is almost impossible. 10:48 Instead, you have to find a group that really, desperately cares 10:51 about what it is you have to say. 10:53 Talk to them and make it easy for them to tell their friends. 10:56 There’s a hot sauce otaku, but there’s no mustard otaku. 11:00 That’s why there’s lots and lots of kinds of hot sauces, 11:03 and not so many kinds of mustard. 11:05 Not because it’s hard to make interesting mustard — 11:07 you could make interesting mustard — 11:09 but people don’t, because no one’s obsessed with it, 11:12 and thus no one tells their friends. 11:13 Krispy Kreme has figured this whole thing out. 11:16 It has a strategy, and what they do is, 11:18 they enter a city, they talk to the people, with the otaku, 11:20 and then they spread through the city 11:22 to the people who’ve just crossed the street. 11:25 This yoyo right here cost 112 dollars, but it sleeps for 12 minutes. 11:29 Not everybody wants it but they don’t care. 11:31 They want to talk to the people who do, and maybe it’ll spread. 11:35 These guys make the loudest car stereo in the world. 11:38 (Laughter) 11:40 It’s as loud as a 747 jet. 11:42 You can’t get in, the car’s got bulletproof glass, 11:45 because it’ll blow out the windshield otherwise. 11:47 But the fact remains 11:49 that when someone wants to put a couple of speakers in their car, 11:52 if they’ve got the otaku or they’ve heard from someone who does, 11:55 they go ahead and they pick this. 11:57 It’s really simple — you sell to the people who are listening, 12:00 and just maybe, those people tell their friends. 12:02 So when Steve Jobs talks to 50,000 people at his keynote, 12:05 who are all tuned in from 130 countries 12:08 watching his two-hour commercial — 12:10 that’s the only thing keeping his company in business — 12:13 it’s that those 50,000 people care desperately enough 12:15 to watch a two-hour commercial, and then tell their friends. 12:18 Pearl Jam, 96 albums released in the last two years. 12:21 Every one made a profit. How? 12:23 They only sell them on their website. 12:25 Those people who buy them have the otaku, 12:27 and then they tell their friends, and it spreads and it spreads. 12:30 This hospital crib cost 10,000 dollars, 10 times the standard. 12:35 But hospitals are buying it faster than any other model. 12:37 Hard Candy nail polish, doesn’t appeal to everybody, 12:40 but to the people who love it, they talk about it like crazy. 12:44 This paint can right here saved the Dutch Boy paint company, 12:49 making them a fortune. 12:50 It costs 35 percent more than regular paint 12:53 because Dutch Boy made a can that people talk about, because it’s remarkable. 12:57 They didn’t just slap a new ad on the product; 12:59 they changed what it meant to build a paint product. 13:01 AmIhotornot.com — everyday 250,000 people go to this site, 13:06 run by two volunteers, and I can tell you they are hard graders — 13:10 (Laughter) 13:14 They didn’t get this way by advertising a lot. 13:17 They got this way by being remarkable, 13:20 sometimes a little too remarkable. 13:21 And this picture frame has a cord going out the back, 13:26 and you plug it into the wall. 13:27 My father has this on his desk, 13:29 and he sees his grandchildren everyday, changing constantly. 13:34 And every single person who walks into his office 13:36 hears the whole story of how this thing ended up on his desk. 13:39 And one person at a time, the idea spreads. 13:42 These are not diamonds, not really. 13:45 They’re made from “cremains.” 13:47 After you’re cremated you can have yourself made into a gem. 13:50 (Laughter) 13:51 Oh, you like my ring? It’s my grandmother. 13:54 (Laughter) 13:59 Fastest-growing business in the whole mortuary industry. 14:03 But you don’t have to be Ozzie Osborne — 14:05 you don’t have to be super-outrageous to do this. 14:07 What you have to do 14:08 is figure out what people really want and give it to them. 14:11 A couple of quick rules to wrap up. 14:13 The first one is: Design is free when you get to scale. 14:17 The people who come up with stuff that’s remarkable 14:19 more often than not figure out how to put design to work for them. 14:22 Number two: The riskiest thing you can do now is be safe. 14:27 Proctor and Gamble knows this, right? 14:29 The whole model of being Proctor and Gamble 14:31 is always about average products for average people. 14:34 That’s risky. 14:35 The safe thing to do now is to be at the fringes, 14:38 be remarkable. 14:40 And being very good is one of the worst things you can possibly do. 14:44 Very good is boring. Very good is average. 14:47 It doesn’t matter whether you’re making a record album, 14:49 or you’re an architect, or you have a tract on sociology. 14:52 If it’s very good, it’s not going to work, because no one’s going to notice it. 14:56 So my three stories. 14:57 Silk put a product that does not need to be in the refrigerated section 15:02 next to the milk in the refrigerated section. 15:04 Sales tripled. Why? 15:06 Milk, milk, milk, milk, milk — not milk. 15:09 For the people who were there and looking at that section, 15:12 it was remarkable. 15:13 They didn’t triple their sales with advertising; 15:16 they tripled it by doing something remarkable. 15:18 That is a remarkable piece of art. 15:20 You don’t have to like it, 15:21 but a 40-foot tall dog made out of bushes in the middle of New York City 15:26 is remarkable. 15:27 (Laughter) 15:28 Frank Gehry didn’t just change a museum; 15:30 he changed an entire city’s economy 15:33 by designing one building that people from all over the world went to see. 15:37 Now, at countless meetings at, you know, 15:39 the Portland City Council, or who knows where, 15:42 they said, we need an architect — can we get Frank Gehry? 15:45 Because he did something that was at the fringes. 15:48 And my big failure? I came out with an entire — 15:50 (Music) 15:53 A record album and hopefully a whole bunch of record albums 15:56 in SACD, this remarkable new format — 15:58 and I marketed it straight to people with 20,000-dollar stereos. 16:02 People with 20,000-dollar stereos don’t like new music. 16:07 (Laughter) 16:11 So what you need to do is figure out who does care. 16:17 Who is going to raise their hand and say, 16:19 “I want to hear what you’re doing next,” 16:21 and sell something to them. 16:22 The last example I want to give you. 16:24 This is a map of Soap Lake, Washington. 16:26 As you can see, if that’s nowhere, it’s in the middle of it. 16:30 (Laughter) 16:36 But they do have a lake. 16:38 And people used to come from miles around to swim in the lake. 16:41 They don’t anymore. 16:42 So the founding fathers said, “We’ve got some money to spend. 16:45 What can we build here?” 16:46 And like most committees, 16:48 they were going to build something pretty safe. 16:50 And then an artist came to them — this is a true artist’s rendering — 16:54 he wants to build a 55-foot tall lava lamp in the center of town. 16:59 That’s a purple cow; that’s something worth noticing. 17:02 I don’t know about you, 17:04 but if they build it, that’s where I’m going to go. 17:06 Thank you very much for your attention. 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