The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.

Gladwell introduces us to the particular personality types who are natural pollinators of new ideas and trends, the people who create the phenomenon of word of mouth. He analyzes fashion trends, smoking, children’s television, direct mail, and the early days of the American Revolution for clues about making ideas infectious, and visits a religious commune, a successful high-tech company, and one of the world’s greatest salesmen to show how to start and sustain social epidemics.

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I’ve still been reading, but not reviewing recently even though I’ve read a few good books. I’ve been pretty busy working on my business which is going through a growth phase. And trying to finish the last chunk of edits of Shadow of the Magician. Also traveling. So that’s why I’ve been a little quiet over here!

The Tipping Point is another book I’ve had on my shelf, but am just now getting around to reading. I was getting a little bit burned out reading books that were strictly self-improvement or business, so I decided to add this one to my Miracle Morning pile.

I really liked this book. I know a lot of people often look down on these books as being pop psychology/sociology and not necessarily well-researched. However, I think it’s important to remember the audience. They want to learn, but they don’t want to read an academic research paper. I’ve read academic research papers. They are not for the faint of heart and many require an intimate knowledge of the lexicon of the field just to understand the abstract.

Gladwell does a job balancing story with science in The Tipping Point. I found this book very entertaining and was always disappointed when my timer went off and I knew I had to move on to something else. Despite being a person who reads a lot and browses all kinds of articles online, the stories he used in The Tipping Point were all new to me, with the exception of a few. But even those few contained information I’d never heard before. That’s what kept me reading, wanting to know what conclusions he was going to draw from them.

In a nutshell, Gladwell manages to identify a few commkn factors that need to present in order for an “epidemic” to start. And we can think of epidemics not just in terms of disease, but in terms of popularity, trends, and product sales success.

Since I’ve been working in and thinking about marketing for more than six years, I’ve devoted considerable time to thinking about virality and success in this digital age. What it takes for a brand to tip over and skyrocket to the top of the industry. Why things work for certain people and not for others.

I liked the argument presented in this book because it dovetails pretty well with my own observations. That there is a hidden X factor or factors that explains why one thing is a smashing success, while an almost identical brand or concept languishes in anonymity. This is what makes my work so challenging – virality and runaway success are not something I can engineer. There are practices you can take to position yourself for it, but there are too many factors and variables that are out of your hands. That’s why if you read my blogs over on Minute Marketing or talk to me about marketing, I’m such a staunch advocate for consistency and dedication when it comes to your marketing strategy. I do not believe that rapidly shifting your strategy is the best plan of attack. It feels too much like throwing a bunch of shit at the wall to see what sticks. Unless of course you happen to stumble onto virality or something that’s rapidly accelerating your success. Then by all means, do more of that!

Anyway. If you’ve been curious about this book or have been wanting to read something by Malcolm Gladwell, I definitely recommend picking this one up!

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