Finished Free Prize Inside

I finished up Free Prize Inside last night. Overall, like the Amazon rating and all the marketing/brand people say, it’s a good book: it has interesting, useful ideas; it’s short and to the point; it’s well written; and it doesn’t feel like a waste to have read it.

The footnotes section is fun too — there’s an online addendum to the footnotes, a sort of “living footnotes” that I haven’t read. Footnotes are like pre-cursors to blogs: outgoing links from the book, and slightly on/off topic comments about the “meat” of the book.

Here’s some interesting quotes, excerpts, etc.:

  • “The free prize is the element that transcends the utility of the original idea and adds a special, unique element worth paying extra for, worth commenting on.”
  • On product differentiation:

    Differentiation is the act of making your products different from the competition (and each other) so that people pick you. But differentiation is selfish. It assumes that people are interested enough in your field to seek you out, to compare the options and to make a smart choice.

    The implication, obviously, being that people aren’t all those thing.

  • A free prize in cake mixes:

    Betty Crocker was unable to convert housewives to cake mixes until they left out the powdered egg from the mix. As soon as the mix did less — you had to add your own egg — women embraced the idea of saving some of the hassle of baking. The free prize inside the cake mix was the fact that you still felt like you were being a good housewife, because you did more than just stir up the mix.

  • “If people aren’t blown away, they won’t talk about [your product/service/etc]. If they don’t talk about it, it doesn’t spread fast enough to help you grow.”
  • “The time to start is now. Hey, you’re going to go to work anyway. Why not do something great while you’re there!”

The chapter on championing is, perhaps, the most useful in the whole book. It’s hard to summarize it, but it really does boil down to what you’d expect a “champion” to be.

In the software industry, companies occasionally have evangelists whose primary job is to hype the product in the field; usually, it’s large, successful, cult companies that have these (Microsoft, Sun, Apple?). Being a champion sounds like an inner-company version of an evangelist.