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Unleashing Idea Virus by Seth Godin

Unleashing Idea Virus by Seth Godin

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Published by zubarica
Seth's free e-book, from his website, most read full-text e-book ever.
Seth's free e-book, from his website, most read full-text e-book ever.

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Published by: zubarica on Aug 27, 2011
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08/02/2012

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In this section, we’ll take a look at each of the eight underlying variables in the ideavirus

formula, and try to get a handle on exactly how you can manipulate them for your product.

No two industries rely on the eight fundamental principles in precisely the same way. But

virtually every ideavirus I’ve ever seen uses some of these principles in an extraordinary way,

and just about every one could be improved if it expanded further into the other areas.

The Eight:

1. Sneezers

2. Hive

3. Velocity

4. Vector

5. Medium

6. Smoothness

7. Persistence

8. Amplifier

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Sneezers

As described earlier, there are two kinds of sneezers: Powerful and Promiscuous. While all

eight elements of the formula are critical, this is the area where many brand marketers have

the most control, and thus the most influence.

Choose your sneezers—don’t let them choose you. By focusing obsessively on who you’re

choosing to sneeze on your behalf, you build the foundation for your virus.

Powerful sneezers are certainly the most seductive, in that the right word from the right

sneezer can make all the difference to your virus. If David Letterman visits your diner on

television, or the New Yorker writes a twenty-page rave about your website, or if you win a

MacArthur Fellowship Grant, well, you’ve really made it.

Oprah Winfrey is quite possibly the most successful sneezer of our generation. She has

single-handledly turned more than a dozen books into national bestsellers. She has launched

a magazine that already has more than half a million subscribers. She can influence millions

of the most powerful consumers in America, just by uttering a few sentences.

It’s interesting to see how effectively Oprah and her brandmate Martha Stewart have

successfully monetized their position as powerful sneezers. If they trip and get perceived as

promiscuous sneezers, as sneezers for hire, their effectiveness is quite reduced. But if they can

maintain their position at the same time they sell books and magazines or sheets and towels,

they’ve effectively leveraged their fame.

But few of us are that lucky. Most times, you’re going to have to focus on powerful but less

influential sneezers—individuals or organizations that have something to gain by endorsing

your idea but aren’t so out there that they’re tagged as promiscous sneezers.

Some powerful sneezers are very prominent and thus very hard to reach. The challenge for

most marketers is to find the second tier of sneezer—the approachable, interested sneezer

who can do almost as much for you as Oprah or Martha, but with whom you have a far

greater chance of making an impact.

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The story of The Bridges of Madison County is a great example of this. Warner Books, the

publisher, realized that most other publishers were doing very little to market to the

independent bookstores, and that if he could court them and give them something to sell

that made them feel special, it would translate into a bestseller.

Of course, as soon as the legions of independent booksellers succeeded in turning Bridges

into a phenomenon, they were assaulted by dozens of other less imaginative publishers, all

trying to rush in and use the same strategy. Too late. It got cluttered. They got busy. No one

else ever repeated the focused, obvious success of this approach.

Remember, an ideavirus adores a vacuum, and Bridges filled that vacuum. As other book

marketers rushed in, no one was able ever again to persuade a critical mass of booksellers to

support just one book.

Does this mean Warner was doomed never to be able to repeat this process again? Is that all

there is—just one new gimmick after another? No! Instead, Warner needed to gain

permission from this critical sneezer audience and use that permission to promote the next

book and the next through a channel they were clever enough to build.

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