How to get your ideas to spread | Seth Godin


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

100 thoughts on “How to get your ideas to spread | Seth Godin”

  1. Almost 19 mins of remarkable mediocrity. Is anything new in the lecture of standing out and be noticed that too in the domain of advertising? and being very good is bad. Wow! so keep selling to stupid people your stupid products. Because that's what marketing is all about. So does capitalism. Don't make your product great but you only need to be able to sell it.

  2. What happens if your ideas spread just fine but your white bread is covered in mould and doesn't take like bread?

  3. ASU Venture Devil Here. Seth Godin is awesome in beginning with a demand for the young entrepreneurs to stop stealing ideas, stop copying their homework, and actually dream a better future. This down to earth reflection on how to get the dream to spread is a needed supplement to the practicality of keeping a dream alive. It is the new idea, or the "remarkable dream" that will spread. With limited time, people will not pay any attention to something that is the same as what they've seen before. It also insinuates a redirection away from standard corporate practices, and "safe investment" thinking. Shooting for mainstream is a sure way to be ignored and forgotten. Being one of the better speakers for entrepreneurs, I am monitoring every talk he gives.

  4. 500th comment. seems like I should get a trophy. or a coupon. Actually, I clicked on this off of a Forbes article, just wondered how old the video is. 10 years!!!

  5. The best of the speech….was about Pearl Jam….
    I love this band….but sadly it is imposible…get all the C.D's; Vynils; D.V.D's and Concerts….
    And if they make all of this is because they sales…..all of them…
    Hahabaha

  6. Otaku (おたく/オタク) is a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, commonly the anime and manga fandom.
    It doesn't necessarily mean a broad obsession for anything or objects or products.

  7. Seth's views are indeed wonderful and have inspired me to create my blog. Please give my articles a read. You will not regret. underlyingmotivations.wordpress.com

  8. Seth paints a picture of a sad sad world, where people are too busy to think for themselves, so they follow the trending crowd and don't use their powerful focus to create a better world. Only thinking of what's in it for ME! I wish the people inventing stuff that people do not need, would put their genius to products which would clean up the environment, or heal the sick or teach people to forgive each other. How can we use this marketing power to create a better world for all beings. We need to redefine what is Remarkable, and celebrate what is truly Remarkable! LOVE is Truly Remarkable, and free!

  9. Baby Sitter, • Cooking, • Housekeeping, • Nurse, • Driver, • Maid • Patient Care• Governess• …
    http://www.directnaukri.com
    We provide Direct jobs for all category From Maid to Manager. … Domestic Help, House Maid, Nanny, Patient Care ,Home Nurse, Baby Care ..

  10. Love listening to Seth, so much knowledge! We've included this video in a transcription series – https://blog.upscope.io/how-to-get-your-ideas-to-spread-seth-godin-4eaa4bcd0f54

  11. For my project I’m spreading, ive found that woman 24 to 55 love spooky stories told by a story teller, Face to face. 79% of my followers on
    Facebook meet this criteria. I would have never known. But that’s just the beginning of what I’ve learned. Any one now of other good Seth Godin videos?

  12. Amazing – Seth made this TED six weeks before the iPhone was introduced.
    YouTube and Facebook were very new.
    Everything changed – everything has changed and will change.

  13. After watching at least 100 TED Talks over the years I must say that this video is THE BEST I've ever seen by a long shot!

  14. 5:00 Arby’s spent millions of dollars on an oven mitt with the voice of Tom Arnold to get people to buy more roast beef sandwiches. lol

  15. The simple truth is that for something to go viral, it must be baked into your product, there must be a reason to share it and the means to do so.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4SBfeLmEwo&t=26s

  16. For any Strategy request please contact Mr Essalhi PhD in Marketing and Business Intelligence https://bit.ly/2KUzuoB

  17. Is selling “remarkable” overpriced stuff to people who don’t need it and often can’t afford it the way to have a meaningful life these days? Oh boy!

  18. I had to try play that game, but must my other book the end. People dont know. How good the sleepimg and tray are

  19. Power is it only good today. You think, I am ill , when I could remember no other language then I takeaway In exident to epilepdy. I could not work. I paint and write other book. I write first on my home language, finland. Do you know every People are so good. Where and when they born and how good her or his is. Good night In Finland. 🙄

  20. Kirjoita runoja ja teen niitä myös laulu. Kun on absoluuttinen korva soitteli uruilla en ole ollut missään musiikki tai taide koulutus suoraan tekniikkaan. Oli luonnonlahja teen myös muita käsin tehty töitä. Olen lapsena jäänyt tanko juopon moottoripyörä alle. Vaikka olen ollut hyvä koulussa ja töissä oikea työ tapa ja mahdollisesti myös joskus parempi vaihtoehto on käyttää lahjoja hyväksi. On vain kielimuuri ja ikäni ja asuin paikka. Itä-suomen puolella, ehdotankin startti

  21. "Being very good is one of the worst things you can possibly be." It's statements like this that make Godin sound like a charlatan. There are countless products, companies, etc. that do quite well despite being "very good."

  22. Yo when he mentioned "Steve Jobs" I knew this guy looked so familiar lol and the background is so much similar to when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone and IPod.

  23. Seth may have great insights about marketing, but he apparently has no idea what the military industrial complex refers to or did "a long time ago", because he says this is how it worked, right after explaining advertising 101; pay for an ad, pay for more ads out of the profits from sales, etc.

    No Seth, buying ads to entice buyers into choosing one's product isn't at all the same as the way the military industrial complex was ever run. The whole key to the military industrial complex' profit taking, and the reason the contractors so often get away with charging 100s of times what a given item is worth, is that they need not convince the buyer of anything. The taxpayer who is the actual buyer, is simply forced to pay or go to jail.

    The buying decision is in the hands of people who aren't paying out of pocket; quite the contrary. For the most part, depending how complete their corruption is, the decision makers simply vote to fund a huge pool of money from which military professionals are to buy the products that the owners of the politicians want to sell. The people who pay for it all are completely removed from the transaction. Their "representatives" are happy to fund the game because they are very well paid to fleece us; no need for fancy closing techniques or sophisticated methods of influence; it is simply a payoff. See the difference?

  24. It's much like your Religion. You must accept the Faith you believe in, and live your life, as a positive example of that Faith. Not being a Poser, but a true embodiment of God here on Earth. (If that's possible.)

  25. The only remarkable Inventions are those that made by HE himself. Too many remarkable Inventions in small city like the top one means highway to be valley full of monuments. Remarkable never meant to be a burger that contains ten types of spices at once. Now they sell you all contradicted contents in a meal in the name of remarkable where Dal Idli Poori Dossa are faded out. He sold rubbish and world still getting more rubbish. They broke the mountain to invent islands in the name of remarkable. The majority are empty

  26. I wish this Jobs disciple was correct. It'd be simple to get rich. Taste is unpredictable. Just bein difrint ain't enuf ta ginrate intrist. If you see what I mean. Products are timely or not, too. Many factors.

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