• Karl Schmieder

Innovate Faster with Godin's Free Prize Inside

Updated: Oct 27, 2018

A can of Chef Boyardee's Dinosaurs are covered in cheese

In 2015, PR News announced “thought leader” defeated “leverage” as the Most Overused Public Relations Phrase.

While the term “thought leader” may be overused in PR and marketing circles, the need for thought leadership continues to grow as consumers are overwhelmed by too much noise and too many choices. This is especially true in the life sciences where topics remain unfamiliar to most, while the impact on our lives significantly increases every day.

Seth Godin is a prolific, provocative, inspirational marketing thought leader and author. I recently reread his 2007 book FREE PRIZE INSIDE with the goal of finding one idea to help our clients.

The overall concept of FREE PRIZE INSIDE is simple: Soft innovations can make your product or service remarkable.

Soft innovations are the “free prize" that give your customers something to talk about when they consider your product or service.

Soft innovations are small ideas that almost anyone in an organization can think up.

Godin’s examples include Chef Boyardee’s dinosaur pasta, Dr. Peter Pronovost’s surgery checklists, PowerBars, the portable shredder, Endless Pools, and the iPod.

Creating the free prize, Godin claims, is easy if you follow his examples of Edgecraft, an easy-to-use brainstorming technique. The goal of Edgecraft is to help your business stand out, to help your company become a "Purple Cow" (Godin’s earlier book). You do that by “identifying the soft innovations that lie on the edges of what already exists."

Here are a couple of examples of soft innovations from the life sciences that turned their practitioners into thought leaders.

Bruce Booth, D.Phil. is a Boston-based biotech venture capitalist who has been blogging about life science venture capital topics at LifeSciVC.com since 2012. There are many biotechnology venture capitalists. There are also a number of biotechnology bloggers. But the universe of biotech VC bloggers, however, remains very small and as result Bruce stands out.

Ginkgo Bioworks is an organism engineering company founded with the “mission to make biology easier to engineer.” Five years ago, Ginkgo launched its company with a unusual video that asked,s “Who are the engineers of the future?” This video, styled after 1960s education videos, showed the Ginkgo team dressed as if living in the 1960 and smoking cigarettes (though co-founder Tom Knight Ph.D., is shown rolling around on a Segway). Previously, no other biotechnology company had ever launched with a video, much less a “fun” video.

“Some stuffy biotech types pointed out we weren’t wearing safety goggles,” Ginkgo BioWorks Creative Director, Christina Agapakis told me, “But overall, the reaction was positive and many employees cite the video as the reason they wanted to work for Ginkgo."

Becoming a thought leader in your industry doesn’t require a huge amount of effort. It requires a willingness to do something different and do it consistently.

In FREE PRIZE, Godin not only gives you the tools to create the free prize, he shows you how to champion the idea so you can make it happen. Godin claims "it's more important to learn to sell the idea" because most people don't know how.

Godin states we live in a world where everything is marketing, where the game changes faster than ever. He says that organizations that win will be the ones that realize we must create things worth talking about. To me, that means the leaders that we look up to are the ones discussing ideas that clarify or inspire.

What do you think?