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Free Prize Inside: The Next Big Marketing Idea Hardcover – May 6, 2004
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According to marketing maven and Purple Cow author Seth Godin, the "Television Industrial Complex"--and its nasty habit of interrupting people with advertisements for things they don't want--is dead. Innovation is cheaper than advertising, advises Godin who defines the "free prize" with diverse examples including swatch watches, frequent flyer miles, dog bakeries, Tupperware parties and portable shredding trucks. He explains "Design matters, style matters, extras matter."
The largest portion of the book is devoted to how to sell an idea to your organization. His specific tactics range from irreverent, (let them pee on your ideas) to practical (how to build a prototype). One standout chapter explains how brainstorming can become boring. His alternative, "edgecraft," involves divergent thinking to add something remarkable to your product. His long grocery list of edges (safety, equality, invisibility, and hours of operation) suggest a genuine marketing manifesto. The ideas are bold and insightful, but can suffer from being presented in less than logical order. The book is also diminished by Godin's self-marketing, from using terminology in his previous books to naming key ideas after himself. These advertisements are unnecessary. This nervy little volume is bound to mother many inventions. --Barbara Mackoff
From Publishers Weekly
A slapdash mix of insight, jargon, common sense, inspiration and hooey, Godins follow up to last years Purple Cow argues that the way to make any product a bestseller is to couple it with "a feature that the consumer might be attracted to" whether or not she really needs it or wants it. "If it satisfies consumers and gets them to tell other people what you want them to tell other people, its not a gimmick," he argues. "Its a soft innovation." An entrepreneur, lecturer and monthly columnist for Fast Company, Godin knows his business history, and his book bursts with interesting case studies that define "free prize" thinking: e.g. Apples iPod, Chef Boyardees prehistoric pasta, AOLs free installation CDs. One of the problems with the book, however, is that its insistent use of needless jargon ("free prize," "purple cow," "edgecraft") clouds complicated issues and lumps dissimilar processes together. "Fix whats broken," Godin advocates on one page. "Inflame the passionate," he declares on another. Both of these ideas could certainly lead to business improvements, but they hardly use the same methods. Like Godins last book, this volume reads like a sugar rushfast and sweetand this may propel the author back onto the bestseller lists. To help jumpstart his sales, Portfolio will be packaging the first few thousand copies of the book inside cereal boxes. Now thats quite a gimmicker, soft innovation.
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But I recommend it for everyone else too - because about half of the book is about the most important part of the idea -selling it. So if you are trying to influence change in your organization, sell your ideas to others, propose an acquisition, suggest a new product line or influence others in your organization in any way, then I recommend you read this book.
(Hint - that last paragraph should be all of us, even if we could care less about "marketing" in our company) Read it because it is innovative. Read it because it is fun. Read it because it has practical information to help you sell others on your ideas.
The downside is that I feel this book (the title and cover) has the feeling it's a joke. Too big of a promise, too vague of a title. It's not a joke.
If you have that idea too, I'd hereby want to convince you to ignore the cover and the (sub)title and just buy the book. (Well, that is if you want to apply change in (your) company and want to have your marketingskills grow exponentially...)
"Focus on the unsatisfied."
"Make An Invisible Service Visible."
"The free prize transcends the utility of the original idea."
"When you identify what's broken among your competitors,
you've found a free prize."
... caused us to find our product's "Secret Prize."
We implemented a program within 5 days that has so far caused sales to jump by 50%. Tremendous feedback from inbound e-mail corroborates that we're on the right track, as does the fact that existing customers identify strongly with this "core" messaging.
I've read all of Seth Godin's books. This one is his best.