28: How ideas spread. Seth Godin discusses ways to make your product go viral

For day 27 of my 365 Days of Ted challenge I decided to look further into my theme of ideas. More specifically how do we make an idea go viral. Today’s Ted talk is by Seth Godin “How ideas spread.” Seth discusses why some ideas spread more than others and why mass marketing is dead.

Seth is probably most known for starting the popular writing website Squidoo. I first starting writing for Squidoo about 4 years ago. I haven’t written  an article on their for about two years as I moved over to blogging, yet I still get a passive income  stream from all those articles I wrote 4 years ago! For that reason I will always be grateful to Seth and never miss a chance to watch his talks.

The death of mass marketing

Mass marketing refers to promoting your product or service to a very large number of people.   A mass marketing advertising campaign could be running radio, print and television advertisements all at the same time.  This casts the net so wide  making sure that enough eye balls get on those ads.  There was a time when this worked really well, but let’s face it, the world is a heck of a lot busier than it used to be. In any given moment their could be a number of different things fighting for our attention and this dilutes the attention  and focus that we have to give.  We have less disposable time and far more options that we have ever had before. This means we have the luxury to ignore an advertisers message.  More exposure does not lead to more revenue.

Spread your ideas to people who are listening – market to the tribes

Seth Godin’s message is that we need spread our idea to people who will listen.  Seth Godin is known as the tribe guy, that’s his thing.  Tribes are groups of people who are connected to one another  in some way, generally through  shared interests,  values and ideas.  We need to find people who are ready for our message, who will engage with it and not just let it gloss over in disinterest.   Marketing needs to be specific. If we get tribes onboard our ideas they will tell their friends who may tell their friend and so forth. Sure, the initial outreach will be significantly less than mass marketing, but it will be relevant and active leads

diffusion and exchange of ideas

Our message needs to remarkable.

As well as being the tribe guy, Seth Godin is also the purple cow guy. The purple cow is his metaphor for being remarkable.  The basic premise is that if you are driving along a country road and see 100 cows ,  it probably wont even register on your radar. You see one cow you have seen them all. However if one those cows is purple, I bet you would be pulling over, grabbing your smart phone, taking a photo and uploading that picture quicker than the cow can say moo. That purple cow will be the next viral sensation.

In order for our marketing messages to go viral they need to be remarkable and anything can be made remarkable. In the book Contagious Jonah Berger discusses how the company  Blendtec made an unremarkable product such as blender with their YouTube series “Will It Blend?” Each video would have a challenge to see if their were any products that the Blendtec couldn’t blend.  The Will It Blend – Ipad edition has had a staggering 17 million views. Sure it was hard to watch an iPad being destroyed but it was ‘remarkable’ viewing.

Today’s key takeaway

The key takeaway for day 28 is that for every idea I have I need to find the remarkable angle.  If my product, business or service is just like everyone elses my voice simply becomes like mindless background noise. So every idea I have needs to go through the purple cow test; is it remarkable and if not can I make it remarkable?

What’s your purple cow? Please share in the comments below.