Make People See Your ‘It’, A 5-Step Approach

Here’s a short story on innovation from Seth Godin that I’d like to share. It brings home what we do and why it matters.

The sad, true tale of Otto Rohwedder'Wonder Bread' photo (c) 2005, Anthony Easton - license:

Otto Rohwedder invented sliced bread. He focused, like most inventers did, on the patent part and the making part.

The thing about the invention of sliced bread is this- for the first 15 years after sliced bread was available no one bought it, no one knew about it. It was a complete and total failure.

And the reason is that until Wonder came along and figured out how to spread the idea of sliced bread, no one wanted it.

They found that the idea of sliced bread like the success of almost everything is not always about what the patent is like, or what the factory is like, it’s about can you get your idea to spread, or not.

Ideas that spread, win.
(story as told by Seth Godin,


I love this story and most things from Seth Godin. From a brand and social media perspective, he’s dead on. I think most people in medium to large-sized companies understand this story and how it relates to what they do quite easily. Medium-large-sized businesses usually employ agencies that help them ‘think out of the box’ and ‘stand out in the crowd’. They spend a lot of time and energy doing exactly that. At least that was my experience working with Cargill and Kimberly Clark. If you run a small business, I think it’s more difficult to understand where this fits in and how to act upon this little piece of wisdom.

Small businesses simply do not have the budgets to employ a New York or even an Appleton, WI ‘agency’. So what do you do?

1- Start by learning to understand your business from the ‘outside’.

How do your clients view your business? Take your blinders off. How do they see you in comparison to your competition?

2- How do you want them to see you?

Is there anything as special as ‘sliced bread’ about you or your business? What’s your niche?

3- Are you capitalizing on any special niche you have?

Pull together a small group of trusted clients, friends and family. People who care enough to be candid with you and care enough to get their heads around what you’re trying to do. Brainstorm on ways to stand out. Be remarkable. Be bold!

4- Put a plan into action.

Decide which idea or ideas you want to try out. Remember, the best ideas are not necessarily the most expensive. Don’t worry if your first attempts are not perfect. Wonder Bread probably didn’t get it right the first time either.

5- Evaluate.

Keep an eye on who and how many people are involved with your idea. Is it spreading? No? Then change it up. Do something different. Yes, it is spreading? Change it up again. Improve on what you’re doing based on feedback. Your audience expects and deserves it.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

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Five Ways to Poke the Box

I just read Seth Godin’s “Poke the Box” and learned a valuable lesson. It’s okay to fail, actually it’s a good thing. I have to admit, I have been embraced by a “trying to be perfect” mentality from time to time in my life. Maybe even a little bit everyday. As usual Seth helps me open up my mind and see new ways to do things and recognize opportunities.Seth Godin -make something happen

If you’re not failing often and repeatedly you are being remarkable in a way that is going to make a difference. Making incremental changes and doing what everyone else is doing, aka being ‘safe’, is not going to make the difference needed today to stand out from the crowd. Seth says, “the enemy is not piracy, it’s obscurity.” Did you know that 99% of the musicians on You Tube have not been heard? How do you suppose that converts to visibility for authors? I’d bet about the same or even lower.

Here’s a couple more thought-provoking ideas.

  1. Everyday, see things that scare you and notice things that are interesting. Write at least one of them down.
  2. List your daily failures and what you’ve learned from them. Put that into practice.
  3. Watch people. Who’s curious versus uninterested in the great things occurring everyday? What can you learn about them?
  4. Try BIG, new ideas –it’s okay to fail. Great actually. His viewpoint, “The cost of learning is so much less than that of not learning.”
  5. Create moments and movements that people want to talk about. Don’t sink into the blah, blah blah world of ordinary.

So get out and ‘poke the box’ a bit.  Buy the book, it’s a great quick read. Then experiment freely. See what works and what doesn’t. Use the power of the Internet to test various approaches and ideas. You really have so little to lose.