Thursday, September 30, 2010

Herd Before the Leader

Image representing Seth Godin as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase
I love picking on Seth Godin.
Not that anyone cares, I'm just a wannabe and he is the king of the mountain.
It really struck me AFTER my post the other day about McCormick's attempting to drive LITERAL flavor combinations. 
McCormick's was trying to drive actual taste combinations by giving it authority, using its brand reliability, and repeating to the point of habit.
Godin's point was that brand name creators such as Martha Stewart stay ahead of their tribe by knowing what the tribe might like a "half-step" before they do. 
He says:
The difficult work is doing a new thing in a way that people who have never seen it before will 'get it'.
 It seems to me this is more just herd mentality. See Adsavvy for a great piece describing a study of how willing we are to join the herd:
Researchers at Leeds University, led by Prof Jens Krause, performed a series of experiments where volunteers were told to randomly walk around a large hall without talking to each other. A select few were then given more detailed instructions on where to walk. The scientists discovered that people end up blindly following one or two people who appear to know where they’re going.
The published results showed that it only takes 5% of what the scientists called “informed individuals” to influence the direction of a crowd of around 200 people. The remaining 95% follow without even realizing it.
We presume Martha Stewart has authority and can lead just because she has for so long (and she has a team like McCormicks doing the work). This is about credibility and recognizing how to use the tools of the trade. Godin says:
If the market respects the creator, takes action and then adopts the work, it's in good taste.
He talks in his tribal talk about going from the insurgent product to the default product, but isn't that usually the goal no matter what? Whether you know how you are getting there or not as well?
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