You have to absolutely love books that get you thinking in new and creative ways and Malcom Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, will do just that… Particularly if you, in some capacity, work in marketing or perform marketing functions at your business (which should be everyone who owns a business).
His premise at it’s core is very simple – little details can have a huge impact on results. For instance, he talks about a study done on a college campus designed to encourage students to get vaccinated for tetanus. Various groups of students were given 2 different pamphlets explaining the consequences of not getting vaccinated. One pamphlet was designed to be “high fear” including graphic pictures and dramatic descriptions. The “low fear” version had the descriptions toned down and no photographs were used. The study seemingly was trying to determine the power of “fear in marketing” which can incite quite the debate in marketing circles. Afterward the students were given a survey and, predictably, the “high fear” group said they were more convinced of the dangers of tetanus and were more likely to get inoculated. However when they checked the records at the Health Center a month later, a mere 3% actually got the shot. If they understood the dangers, why weren’t they moved to action???
The researchers considered what Gladwell calls the “Stickiness Factor”, kept the copy the same with the addition of a map to the Health Center (which all the students most likely already knew the location of), along with the dates and times vaccinations were available. That minor change, to an already 7-page report, tipped the conversion rate up to 28%!
If your mind is anything like mine, the possibilities of implementing such minor changes into your marketing with the power for such drastic results makes you giddy. 😀
Gladwell’s entire book outlines examples and case studies that demonstrate the fundamental pieces of an idea that make it go “viral” in the sense that Adam Penenberg discusses in Viral Loop. The beauty of Gladwell’s research, though, is how he directly applies it and teaches you the exact pieces necessary to create your own “Tipping Point” idea. That level of detail, sophistication, and education is certainly something that is missing from Penenberg’s book as he required the reader to analyze the information to draw his own conclusions.
From Sesame Street to Blues Clues to W.L. Gore Inc to Columbia House records and even Paul Revere (yeah, the guy who we all know said “the British are coming” yet for reasons that are easily explained, we’ve never heard of his partner who rode off in the same direction at the same time with the same message but who failed to rally the troops), Gladwell does a terrific job of getting the creative juices flowing on how you can improve every aspect of your marketing.
For any idea that breaches the Tipping Point, Gladwell informs us that 3 people are necessary:
- Salesman – Just as the name implies, they persuade us to buy a certain product or take a certain course of action and the great ones do it in remarkably subtle, non-verbal, and positive ways.
- Mavens – Do seemingly ridiculous amounts of research on products and services along with EVERY competitive product or service so that you trust when they tell you to buy something they know what they’re talking about. The crazy part is they just do it to be helpful. It’s how they’re wired.
- Connectors – The quintessential socialites. They know everyone and therefore can connect a product or idea to vast amounts of people very quickly.
This is just brushing the surface. If you’re looking for some inspiration and great ideas to market your product, service, and business whether in your local neighborhood or worldwide, you’ll enjoy The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.
When you consider that Gladwell’s examples and research covered everything from educating children to effective group sizes for optimal communication (150 people), the value of his material actually extends far beyond business marketing to education, healthcare, leadership, even politics. When you can appreciate and understand a few pieces in the way humans interact, it’s amazing how powerful a tool that can be for you to get almost any message across. And more importantly to get people to act on that message.
To your Tipping Point success, Bryan