published on Monday, June 28, 2004 in The Miami Herald
outside (and inside) the box.
innovative Seth Godin hits the mark once again.
BY RICHARD PACHTER
Prize Inside. Seth Godin. Portfolio. 288 pages
It's no secret that I'm a fan of Seth
Godin. I've reviewed his last several books quite favorably
and will most likely continue to do so until and unless he puts
one out that disappoints me or otherwise bores, burns me and wastes
my time. Even then, I'd be inclined to give him another chance.
Because he's created a brand. I know that if I pick up one of Godin's
tomes, I'm going to receive good insights, have an entertaining
experience and learn new ways to think about old things. Plus, there
will be lots of little, almost-subliminal asides about great places
for Thai food, unique ski resorts, hamburger joints, web sites and
other below-the-radar revelations, all presented in a breezy, serious-but-whimsical
writing style that conveys intelligence, worldliness and sophistication
without disdaining the gee-whiz aspects of technology and humanity.
I also respect Godin because he eats his own cooking, or in other
words, walks it like he talks it. With this book, for example, he
embraces its title and inherent message by packaging the text within
a cereal box so the book itself is the free prize inside —
almost. More about that later.
Godin is also unafraid of giving away lots of free content. One
of his bestsellers, "Unleashing
The Ideavirus" is still available online for free here
though you're welcome to buy a hard copy if you like, and purchasers
of the current book are entitled to download a neat e-book called
Really Bad PowerPoint.
Record companies ought to hire Godin as a consultant so he can explain
to them (using monosyllabic words, of course) why and how they can
make money from downloaders instead of suing them. But I digress
just as Godin does, and that's the other good thing about this book:
So many things in our world seem unrelated, but that's just our
unnatural tendency to put each item in its own little box. With
his apt observations, Godin proves once again that he's a uniter
and not a divider.
Though outwardly a marketing book, Free
Prize Inside is really a tutorial on a lot of things, but innovation
more than anything else. Its best point is that good ideas are not
enough. There is no shortage of them, in fact. It's their development
and implementation that's the challenge.
Godin begins with the notion that traditional advertising is dead,
or at best, a walking ghost and that the best way for a product
to survive and thrive is to be really cool or very, very good and
attract fans, not just customers. But that was the premise of his
last little epic, Purple
Cow, so what's new?'
He spends much of the new book explaining how to navigate through
the politics of corporate ideation. Again, having a great idea is
not enough; you have to create buy-in within the appropriate constituencies
— like your boss — or you're doomed..
The book is packaged both conventionally and within a cereal box,
serving as the free prize inside. Several of the people I gave copies
to did not want to open their box. Neither did I, so I read another
copy I already had. Maybe this mode of packaging is a bad idea,
but maybe not. Godin could
potentially sell twice as many books this way. We'll see.
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