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A reading list

I’m flattered when I get mail asking me for a list of helpful books. I keep losing my list, so I decided to post it here for all time. Rather than giving you a bunch of pithy commentary, I’ll include Amazon links for everything and you can read what others think of each title.

Amazon.com: Books: Crossing the Chasm This is a key component in my Purple Cow thinking, but with a twist. I’m not as worried about the chasm as I am about the desire of marketers to go for the big middle.

Amazon.com: Books: Selling the Dream Guy has written several irrestible books, but this is a great place to start. It’s all about starting the virus.

Amazon.com: Books: The Influentials: One American in Ten Tells the Other Nine How to Vote, Where to Eat, and What to Buy This book exhaustively looks at one very influential group of early adopters. This may not be YOUR group, but the thinking applies to every hive I can think of.

Amazon.com: Books: The Pursuit of Wow! Tom Peters at his best–the book that will push you to do the safe (risky) thing you must do to make your products remarkable.

Amazon.com: Books: My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising: Two Works (Advertising Age Classics Library) Very old, very good. If you’re doing any advertising, you have a professional obligation to read this.

Amazon.com: Books: The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from Ideo, America’s Leading Design Firm I don’t know if you can teach this kind of creativity, but you can certainly raise your expectations by seeing how well they do design.

THE REPUBLIC OF TEA. Out of print, but findable at abebooks and other spots, this is a book about an entrepreneur getting his head around the otaku of his audience.

Amazon.com: Books: Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works, Second Edition This book helped me see design differently. Good design costs just as much as bad design, but it breaks through all sorts of clutter.

Amazon.com: Books: Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale The biggest challenge most executives face is selling their ideas, not their products. And selling internally is a lot like selling in the street. This is the best book I’ve ever read about selling anything at all…

Amazon.com: Books: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Malcolm Gladwell’s breakthrough insight was to focus on the micro-relationships between individuals, which helped organizations realize that it’s not about the big ads and the huge charity balls… it’s about setting the stage for the buzz to start.

Amazon.com: Books: Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia This book outlines the reasons why many efforts to jumpstart third-world economies fail. It’s not just peasants, though. Many of your prospects feel precisely the same way.

Amazon.com: Books: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind This book is built around the brilliant insight that your prospect doesn’t care nearly as much about what you do as you do, and thus you must boil down your offering into a unique slot that repositions the competition.

Amazon.com: Books: The Big Red Fez: How To Make Any Web Site Better I wrote this short book to drive home a few basic points about how bad most corporate websites are.

Amazon.com: Books: Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, and Friends into Customers This is a key next step in spreading your idea–what do you do once people discover it? The answer: get permission to follow up. That makes it much easiser to launch your next idea.

Amazon.com: Books: Unleashing the Ideavirus You can find this book for free at www.ideavirus.com (click on “get it”) but the book version is handier to read on the beach.

Finding your own otaku

My token Matrix riff:
“They’re not trying to figure out what the audience wants, they’re just trying to make the thing that they want, that they wish other people would make. This is the movie they wanna go see.”

That’s one of the Matrix CG guys talking about the Wachowski brothers. The reason they are so able to reach the early adopters in their hive is that they ARE that hive. They don’t do focus groups–they make stuff they love, and fortunately for them, there are a lot of sneezers with otaku who are just like they are.

An ad that’s remarkable

At least as much because of the way they made it. Honda spent $5 mm they say on this ad forHonda’s New Accord. If they had done an ad like this for a Yugo, of course, it wouldn’t have generated the huge ideavirus this one did.

Time to start milking the cow (part 2)

Simon from the UK writes to me about the change in marketing and product development for the Smart car, a remarkable Cow that’s making a big splash in Europe. It’s a truly tiny car, one that has influenced a whole generation of cars.

Apparently, Simon writes, Mercedes is going to average the car out, making it more appealing to the masses. He and I agree that it’s way too early for that. There are plenty of average cars to choose from—it’s not clear why consumers will choose the newly average Smart ahead of lots of other, more proven average cars.

Remarkable is where you find it

Another JetBlue thought: Have you noticed how the audio experience changes the way you feel at the airport?

In a crowded terminal, when the folks making gate announcements start yelling or talking fast or acting panicked about a full flight, it makes everybody uptight. Even the little computerized voice that tells you which gate agent to talk to sounds a little annoyed.

What if the airlines realized that the product that they sell isn’t the plane, it’s the idea of a safe and comfortable (maybe even fun) trip. What if every announcement was pre-recorded by Clint Eastwood or J. Lo? Or if all the flight announcements were as funny as the one I heard today (your snacks are being handed out by Tom, who’s single and looking for love. Hey, if you marry him, you can fly free!) Even simpler, what if every announcement was calm, slow and easy to understand? That’s free, but it’s worth noticing.

Dutch Boy reinvented the paint can. JetBlue could reinvent what you hear when you travel.

Time to stop milking the cow?

Jet Blue, part 2: I wrote a lot of nice things about Jet Blue in Purple Cow. The idea of combining remarkable pricing with great planes, amazing people, an amazing attitude and a sense of humor is something that is irresistibly spreadable.

Today, I flew Jet Blue to Florida to give a talk. The good news (for them) is that the plane was full. The bad news is that everywhere I looked, there was a lot of cow milking going on.

The person who issued me my ticket shook her head and said, “no way I can get you an exit row an hour before the flight.” Of course, she was right, but in the old days, they would have said, “I’ll do my best!” Same outcome, but a different attitude matters so much.

Walking down the jetway, I heard two flight attendants whining about uniform allocations, just like you might hear on a ‘real’ airline.

Jet Blue is flying more people and more flights than ever. They have every temptation to milk the cow while the milking is good. But I wonder if they’re rushing it.

The For-Charity Version…

of 99 Cows is now available at Amazon.com. It costs $9.99 (no surprise) and all my proceeds go to roomtoread.org. Thanks for reading!

Free! Disembodied voices.

It’s a live webcast about Purple Cow. Genesys.com | Seth Godin sign-up will take you there.

It’s Wednesday, May 21 at 12 pm EST. It’s on behalf of Genesys, a conferencing company.

A Nike Insight (the Cow again)

Cool News, my new favorite newsletter, writes today:
WHAT NIKE KNOWS. How the product looks, how expensive it is and where it is sold mean more than celebrity endorsements or mass-market distribution as far as Nike is concerned, reports Maureen Tkacik in The Wall Street Journal. Those relatively recent insights have helped Nike introduce “some of its best selling shoes in years” in recent months. It’s also an outlook far different from Nike’s early days, circa 1975, when Nike craved the mass-market but buyers for the Foot Locker chain resisted Nike’s line, dismissing it as “unbranded” footwear.

Find out more about Cool News at reveries

The Death of TV (cont’d.)

Today’s New York Times reports that tonight at 8 pm, NBC is broadcasting (I’m not making this up), “The Most Outrageous Game Show Moments 5”. I’m not sure what’s more astonishing–that this this is prime time fare, or that there are really 5 hours of this stuff.

Tonight’s hysterical episode even features the legendary Cathy Lee Crosby poking a contestant in order to get her to guess the word “stab.” Outrageous!

The event of the season!

I’ve managed to get some seats set aside for the upcoming: Fast Company | RealTime Miami. Sometimes it seems that all I do is go to conferences of one sort or another, but Fast Company RealTimes are an entirely different sort of event.

You will actually meet people. You will actually learn something. You will be surrounded by Purple Cows. You will come away energized and motivated and networked and connected and ready to push your company to places it wouldn’t go before.

Click on the link above and check it out. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.