Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Review of "The Tipping Point"

Finished reading Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point". This is quite an interesting book, but I can't say there were too many new insights here.

The basic idea here is pretty simple: small things (or several small things) can lead to epidemics. He gives many examples including crime waves, diseases, fashion, TV shows, etc. He uses this to motivate word-of-mouth marketing. This comes down to the Mavens (well-informed, early adopters, trusted by others for advice), Connectors (who communicate effortlessly with others in many different walks of life - experts in "weak relationships"), and Salesmen (who can sell anything to anyone anytime). To simplify all his arguments: win favour with the Mavens; facilitate communication with the connectors; wait for the salesmen to make you rich.

The book is worth a read, but don't expect any answers. Yes, everyone wants word-of-mouth (or "viral") marketing. Everyone wants their new website to be the next YouTube. But I'm telling you right now, it won't happen. Or it probably won't. You want to be in the 0.001% and so do I. Right now, we're not. And we might as well get used to it.

Everything the author says about how products "tip" (i.e., go from relative unknowns to huge money makers) is believable; however, as the book says, you can't force this process. Any attempt at viral marketing comes off as phony. So although you want this, and in a sense you need it; if you're thinking about trying to make this happen, you should probably forget it. Know that many, many people have failed before you. Think hard about all the issues that can come from this and make sure you avoid them.

There's so much to say on this topic that I will certainly come back to it later. For now, let's just say that mastering viral marketing is like finding the holy grail, and your chances of achieving it are about as slim.

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