Tag Archives: Seth Godin

Field Notes Gets Free Prize Inside, Do You?

If you haven’t read Seth Godin‘s Free Prize Inside I encourage you to run over to Amazon or your favorite bookseller and pick up a copy.  If you have read it, but it’s been 6 or 7 years, find it and read it again.  I was reminded of Seth’s Free Prize Inside this week when I received my package of Field Notes notebooks from Coudal Partners.  Because Field Notes gets the Free Prize Inside mentality.  They give the little something extra – the surprise and delight – that takes an excellent product and makes it one worth talking about.

See for yourself.  All I ordered were the notebooks.

Field Notes

You can see that in addition to the notebooks I also received a rubber band to bind them all together when open, a pencil, a sticker and a year-long calendar.  All waiting for me without me even suspecting it.  It was a true delight when I opened the package. And their inclusion is what has me writing about Field Notes right now.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a gimmick.  This isn’t the toy in the Happy Meal.  Because it doesn’t matter how good the toy in the Happy Meal is, the food still sucks.  With Field Notes the product itself is excellent.  I knew that going in.  I had read plenty of good things online to know that I wouldn’t be disappointed.  And I wasn’t.  But it was the little something extra that says, “Thanks for your business. We hope you come back,”  that makes it special.

So my question to you is, what’s your free prize inside?  What are you doing to surprise and delight your customers?  Can you find something that will take your product from really good to one worth talking about?  What could you add that would make your experience go from satisfactory to memorable?  And how can we avoid the Happy Meal trap?  How can we create something genuine that doesn’t feel rote, that feels like it truly is a surprise, instead of the fruit basket that every client gets?

One thing is for sure, if you can discover your free prize inside you’ll soon find that more people will be talking about you and the “little something extra”  that puts you above the rest.

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Embrace your inner rebel

Alex Bogusky, of famed CP+B, tweeted that “Life conspires to beat, or buy the rebel out of you.” And then wrote a follow up post championing the old rebels.  The ones that have kept their fighting spirit through the years of ups and downs.  He was reminded of this conspiracy at a recent board meeting:

This idea that “Life conspires to beat or buy the rebel out of us.” actually came as a realization as I sat around a very highlevel meeting in a very prestigious boardroom of a very successful global corporation. Many of the gentlemen had actually built the company up from scratch. All were rich. But I sat there and listened, not so much to the conversation but to the subtext of the conversation, and contrasted that to the conversations that startups have. The difference was stark. The fire to change the world was gone and it was replaced by a vague unease with change and a desire to protect the money ordefend the wealth. Life had done it’s little trick to oncegreat rebels.

And while I’m not in any board room, I can tell you that in more instances than I care to admit, I have found myself surrendering my inner rebel in exchange for acceptance, security or going with the crowd.  And every time I do it, a little bit of me dies.  Surrendered forever.

It’s like Seth Godin‘s lizard brain.  That piece that yearns for survival, always calling, always wanting us to do the safe thing – “defend the wealth.” And we have to ignore it. We have to avoid succumbing to its siren song.

For it’s the old rebels who win.  It’s the old rebels who in the end, have the richest experiences.  The ultimate highs, the lows, the resurgence.  All of that is guaranteed when you let you refuse to betray your inner rebel.

While I can’t always guarantee that I’ll embrace my inner rebel, Alex’s post was a great wake up call that the rebel is what makes life interesting and makes great things happen.

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Leaning into Change

In Seth Godin‘s latest book, Linchpin, he talks about the concept of leaning into your work in order to be successful. He argues that a change in posture, leaning in vs. standing by, is one way to tell the linchpins (irreplaceable people in an organization) from the employees. I love this concept because it is a powerful metaphor for thinking about how you show up each and every day. Are you leaning forward, into problems, roadblocks and opportunities? Or are you idly standing by waiting for something to happen, to react to?

Those that lean win. Those that stand by whine. It’s as simple as that.

I haven’t finished the book, so I’m not sure if Seth tackles this, but in thinking about leaning in, I’ve found in my own past experience that leaning in during times of change is absolutely critical. Because change is opportunity, even if oddly dressed. Too many people see change and stand by – waiting to see where the chips will fall. Waiting to see how the power structure will change or where and what the fall out will be. The people standing by at best miss an opportunity, at worst they find themselves in the fall out.

When change comes it’s time to lean – harder than you ever have.

Leaning into change is scary, and it doesn’t feel natural. I think it’s because you have to make a bet, and you’re often doing it with limited, incomplete or imperfect information. You may have a new boss whose agenda you can’t quite read. You may have a corporate shift is strategy, or a reorganization, or a brand new competitor named Google, or a million other things that create uncertainty. And our instinct is to stand by – let’s see what happens before I make a move. And I argue that that reaction is the exact wrong one to have. When the ground is shifting under your feet it’s time to asses the best you can and lean in hard. Sure, sometimes you’ll bet wrong, and that’s ok, because you can course correct along the way. Working with good intentions and a strong desire to improve your organization’s situation during a time of change is rarely why people get fired these days. It’s the people standing by that tend to get left in the dust.

Leaning in is easier to do when there isn’t any perceived risk. It gets harder as the stakes go up in times of change. It’s precisely why leaning in is that much more valuable at those moments.

Image via Wikipedia

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If you can’t change frequency…

In my last post I wrote about how changing purchase or use behavior is one way to improve sales of a product when you have a product that can’t be changed. Motor oil was the example I used. Avocados are another. But what if you can’t materially impact purchase frequency? Then what?

Then it comes down to loyalty and referral.

There are plenty of examples of this type of product marketing need. You have very little control, for example, over how often a customer buys a new house or builds a new nuclear reactor. In these types of markets the best you can do is win on loyalty and referral.

It’s easy when you think about it. If you can’t get the Smith’s to move into a new home faster than the every five-year clip their moving at the next best thing you can do is guarantee that they use you when the time comes and that they’ll refer you to their contacts in any discussion about real estate.

In these markets it’s not about changing purhase frequency. It’s not about rewriting the rules around use. To create loyalty and referral requires two different elements: a remarkable first transaction and diligent and thoughtful follow up.

Both fall into Godin‘s world more seamlessly than the commodity marketing in my last post. Creating a wow first experience is really the key to this type of marketing. Because it powers the rest of the cycle. The virtuous cycle of loyalty and referral is kick-started by that first experience.

A wow experience out of the gate gets you halfway there while a ho-hum or unsatisfactory experience leaves the cycle DOA. The follow up is what gets you the rest of the way and makes sure the wow isn’t wasted. (That’s a post for another day.)

The tough part is defining the wow. Because wow is different to everyone. Each customer has their own need. So you can either tailor each experience to your customers’ needs or you can seek out customers who appreciate your style of business. Continuing the real estate example, if you’re completely automated and tech driven you may do better to seek out people who don’t want to “waste a lot of time” on pleasantries and phone calls. Whereas if you’re the warm friendly type, targetting type-A personalities who answer your phone calls with text message replies might not be the best market segment for what you bring to the table.

Regardless of your approach one thing is certain. Being marginally better than the competition is the least fortuitous route to the virtuous cycle in these marketing arenas. You really need to be at an extreme to succeed. You can’t be somewhat friendly and somewhat convenient. You need to be at one end or the other. Otherwise you’re like everyone else.

And when you’re like everyone else you don’t command loyalty and you don’t command referrals. And that is not a good spot to be in when your customers only make a buying decision once every 5 (or 50) years.

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Changing Frequency

See if this sounds familiar.  You’re responsible for marketing a product that is either middle of the pack, a commodity, or unremarkable for one reason or another.  You’re a big fan of Seth Godin and know that what you really need to wow is a Purple Cow that will set the world on fire.  Unfortunately, you don’t own the product road map, you don’t control the resources needed to redesign and redevelop the product, or it’s impossible to change your product and you need to keep your job.  So what should you do?

Seth would say that you need to work to create a Tribe within your organization that you can drive towards realigning the company around building that Purple Cow, and I agree completely, but what can you do right now?

One thing you can do is start looking for ways to change the frequency of use or purchase.  This works well in especially entrenched industries.  My favorite example is motor oil.

Castrol, Jiffy Lube and other companies who work in the undifferentiated world of car repair and, well, oil, came up with a campaign and slogan that said mechanics recommend changing your oil every 3,000 miles.  It was a brilliant marketing campaign.  It appealed to something easy that car owners could control to extend the life of their cars.  It was easy to remember and easy to do.

It also changed purchase frequency.  Most car manuals recommend changing your oil every 6,000-7,500 miles.  By redefining the interval these companies were able to increase the frequency of purchase of their product and services.  Every 3,000 miles became the default behavior.

In reality it was nothing more than a marketing message that was well designed.

There are plenty of environmental and moral issues around the oil change interval. But the message and the ability of the marketers to reframe the use of the product is nothing short of brilliant.

There are lots of other examples of this frequency tactic.  Replace your razor blade when the indicator strip disappears, eat an apple a day, see the dentist twice a year, to name a few.

So if controlling or changing the product is unrealistic or impossible, see instead what can you do to change purchase or use frequency.  Can you come up with your own 3,000 mile rule?

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Top 10 Things I Learned at BlogWorld

I just got back from BlogWorld and New Media Expo in Las Vegas. This was my second time at the event and it was well worth the trip. The conference seemed bigger this year over last, and the quality of the people attending and presenting were excellent. I can honestly say that I learned more at BlogWorld than I did at SXSW earlier in the year.

Here are the top 10 things I learned this year at BlogWorld:

1. Seth Godin has it wrong. It’s not all about me, it’s all about we. The people I met were the most gracious, giving folks I have the pleasure of knowing.  They don’t just champion themselves, they champion the movement away from command and control of mass media to the conversation first detailed in The Cluetrain Manifesto.

2. Simple wins.  “People admire complexity but reward simplicity.” Favorite quote from any presentation was from Ben Huh, CEO of the Cheezburger Network (home of ICanHasCheezburger.com)

3. Social objects win. Providing ways for people to easily connect is invaluable.  Fatburger got it with the burger-eating contests, Techset gets it, Techkaraoke gets it.  How can social objects work for you?

4. Those who create, win. The biggest rockstars at the conference were all people who pump out amazing content and share their expertise with the world.  Get creating.

5. There’s a big difference between meeting someone and building a connection with someone. Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) taught me that in a 30-second conversation.  It requires a full post, but it changed how I think about things. Completely.

6. Nothing replaces face to face experiences. Twitter and Facebook are great.  They help lay the groundwork for more enjoyable IRL experiences – but nothing beats in-person conversation.

7. Embrace the unexpected. The unexpected opportunities and amazing conversations find you when you get out of your bubble and go with the flow.

8. When you start with love it makes everything better. Everyone that I met came in with love in their hearts.  They were helpful, friendly and kind beyond expectation.  Bringing that mindset to more interactions is something I want to embrace more.

9. Can it last? Some panels were full of people complaining at how hard it is to keep up with the demands and expectations of their legions of followers (no matter the number).  Jon Lansner (@jonlan) of the OC Register had a great point.  Media companies may be getting killed right now; but they can stay open 24/7 and some will be around for years to come. There’s a full post in here for sure.

10. I’ll be back. With so much good stuff I definitely plan on attending next year.  If you’ve been thinking about going hopefully you’ll choose to go next year!

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