TED Talk: Seth Godin: Sliced Bread and Other Marketing Delights

TED Talk: Seth Godin-Sliced Bread and Other Marketing Delights (VIDEO)

Marketing guru Seth Godin tackles how to make your product stand out in one of his most famous Ted talks.  Based on his book The Purple Cow, Godin delves into what makes a product extraordinarily successful and why even those products who appear useful or appealing often fail.

Godin argues that in order for a product to be successful, it must be remarkable.  The thing about remarkable products, however, is that they often don’t appeal to the majority of consumers.  For decades, businesses have focused on developing and marketing products to the most consumers possible.  Since the advent of televised ads, consumers have been bombarded with bright commercials for food, toys, household cleaning products, and basically every other good imaginable.  However, Godin states that this method of advertising is now defunct.  Consumers have learned to ignore the constant stream of stimuli coming at them from their TVs.  In fact, he argues that businesses who play it safe by targeting the general population through mass media are actually taking the riskiest route to success.

The Product Adaption Curve: Aim for the first two segments, the "Otaku"

Instead, Godin argues for targeting promotions and design to the “otaku” of a product.  Otaku is a Japanese word that, loosely translated, refers to the group of consumers who are the early adaptors and innovators of a specific product segment.  In other words, businesses should target solely those consumers who have an invested interest in the product category or type.

Apple and former CEO Steve Jobs perfectly captured the Otaku

As an example, Godin talks about Steve Job’s keynotes for Apple.  An average of 50,000 tuned in to watch what was essentially two-hour commercials promoting the next new Apple product.  These consumers, the otaku of Apple, care enough about the product to sit through a detail presentation on the features of the product.  Apple knew this, and consequentially designed their products to fulfill the needs of these consumers.  They learned the essential model for success: if the otaku are satisfied, then they will spread the word about a product to others.  Since the otaku are often consider reliable sources by many of their friends, family, and acquaintances, a positive word from an otaku about an Apple product would essentially cause a chain reaction of purchases, resulting in skyrocketing profits.

Godin’s talk brings to light an often overlooked fact about product development and marketing.  Even in courses taught at Sauder, some professor still advocate for marketing to the masses, while companies like Proctor and Gamble or Unilever complete this loop by their generalized, appealing products.  However, companies looking to break into the market should follow Godin’s advice.  If there is an otaku for a product, market to them.  The rest of the consumers will follow.

Notice the purple cow, don’t you?

And, who knows? We could create the next purple cow with some good old fashioned d-Studio brainstorming techniques!

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