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Grilled Cheese

I’m tempted to riff and riff about culture mores, memes, ideaviruses and the way ideas spread.

But instead, I’ll just tell the few among you who haven’t done this yet: Go to ebay and do a search on grilled cheese. (while it’s active: Link: eBay – grilled cheese, Metaphysical, Weird Stuff, and Men’s Clothing items at low prices.)

Thank you.

Thinking about digital media

So, here’s an interesting head to head comparison of how an idea works its way through the food chain.

About 7 years ago I wrote a book called, Link: The Bootstrapper’s Bible. For a bunch of reasons, it didn’t do very well. It probably sold about 10,000 copies at about $12.

I got the rights back from the publisher and turned it into a PDF which was sold on Amazon. (Link: Amazon.com: Books: The Bootstrapper’s Bible : Volume 1.) For a surprisingly long time, it was either the #1 bestselling ebook on the entire Amazon website or in the top 100. It costs less than $3. Yet, after 18 months of strong sales on Amazon, it has sold fewer copies than the paperback did.

Yesterday, we announced that for just two weeks, a ChangeThis edition of the ebook (Link: ChangeThis :: The Bootstrapper’s Bible ) is available for free. And in twenty four hours, it has already “outsold” the Amazon eBook and will quite likely surpass the printed edition within a week or so.

Can you make any money giving away an ebook? I think you can. I think you do when the idea spreads and people want to interact with you in other ways. And those interactions are the currency of the future.

A cow in more ways than one

Free Godin ebook

This is a better formatted, limited edition ebook edition of The Bootstrapper’s Bible, which used to come free when you bought a copy of Purple Cow.

Blog readers get a headstart: Link: ChangeThis :: The Bootstrapper’s Bible .

Money back guarantee if you don’t like it.

A Little Like Francisco Franco

Chris Busch wants me to wade into the “Is Branding Dead?” debate:

Link: Wired 12.11: The Decline of Brands.

Link: gapingvoid: why branding is dead.

Link: PSFK: Long Live Branding.

Here’s my take:
1. The data are irrefutable. The number of massive mega brands and their value (in terms of the premium consumers are willing to pay) is shrinking, and fast. You can’t get as much extra for a Sony DVD player or a Marlboro cigarette as you used to.

2. The number of new micro-brands is exploding. Hugh (see gaving void above) is a brand now. If we define brand as a shortcut for a set of commercial attributes, emotions, stories, whatever, then any blogger with a following has a brand.

3. There’s a difference between brands and branding. Brands exist whether you want them to or not. Brands aren’t going to go away any time soon. Brands are a useful shorthand for a complicated asset within an organization. Branding, on the other hand, is a thing you do. And as an activity, branding is problematic. Branding is ill-defined, usually vacuous, often expensive and totally unpredictable. I’m happy to say that you shouldn’t grow up to be someone who does branding.

Doc Searls and company would have us believe that markets are conversations. This is a great conversation-starter and a useful piece of agit-prop. But the reality is that many many brands are actually monologues, not dialogues. That doesn’t mean a conversation won’t create a better, more robust, more useful brand. But, alas, most organizations can’t handle that truth. So they do their best to do it the old way.

Big brands are dying.
Little brands are doing great.
Branding is a weird gig.

There. Hope that riff helps my brand a bit.

Abraham Lincoln and the new Travelocity

I need to fly to Colorado to go to a meeting in February. Do a Travelocity search on flights from EWR (Newark) to EGE (Eagle) and you’ll discover a bunch of tabs. The default tab is called “Travelocity” and my guess is that these are the flights they’re getting paid to promote. But it’s the default tab, so the results here are the only results you see.

A quick look at this tab shows that every single flight is a one-stop.

If you were clever enough to click on each and every tab, though, the fifth tab (American) would show you a non-stop.

I admit it. Travelocity fooled me. They fooled me because I used to trust them. I used to be able to assume that they’d just go ahead and show me the best flights. I was wrong.

Lincoln was right. You can’t fool all the people all the time. How much profit makes it worth Travelocity using up their single biggest asset–permission to talk to me about air flights?

Just because other people are trying to fool your customers doesn’t mean its okay.

Some people collect comic books

And some people collect Seth Godin original Purple Cow Milk Cartons!

Purplecowcarton

I’m moving my office, and the very last milk cartons on earth have been located. They’re available exclusively at 800 CEO READ. Link: 800CEOREAD.com – Purple Cow – Collectable Milk Carton.

Don’t tell me later you didn’t know.

a billion here, a billion there

sooner or later, it all adds up.

Google measures things in billions. Billions of pages searched. Hundreds of millions of pageviews.

Literary fiction measures things in thousands. An important title might sell 4,000 or 8,000 books.

For the non-math whizzes among you, four billion is about a million times greater than 4,000.

All to say that everything has a range. It’s a big deal if a movie sells 3,000,000 tickets in a weekend. That used to be nothing for a TV show, but now it’s pretty respectable for cable.

Some business books have sold more than 100,000 copies. Less than a dozen have sold a million since the beginning of time.

And ChangeThis is just about to cross a hundred thousand downloads directly from our site. Figure in passalong and other sites posting and printouts and it’s pretty easy to estimate 250,000 changethis manifestos downloaded since August.

It’s always been an experiment, so forgive me if it sounds as though I’m horn tooting. I think it’s interesting to track how these ideas are spreading and to consider how a medium like blogging or PDF manifestos can help you spread your idea…

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