“No matter what we do for a living, we are in the fashion business.”
What does Seth Godin mean when he tells us that, whether we know it or not, we are working in the fashion business? He opens by talking about sliced bread and how, for the first 15 years of its production, was a complete and utter failure. That is, until a company called Wonder came along, repackaged it, marketed it, and somehow made it remarkable. The newly repackaged sliced bread sold for the same reason that all other successful products sold – because it stood out from the crowd of dull options that all fade into themselves.
Let’s face it, we live in a world of information diffusion as Godin calls it and we are bombarded every day with hundreds of products and thousands of new information. At some point, it all turns into a fast blur. Unless there is something distinctly interesting or remarkable about it, we’re not going to notice it. We’re going to tune it out, let it fade into the background along with the rest of the mundane information that we don’t remember and that we certainly don’t think about. The failed ideas are the forgotten ones. The successful ideas are the remarkable and memorable ones because that’s how we get them to spread.
Today’s success can be defined in very easy terms. A product is successful when it is talked about a lot, when it has spread. An idea is successful when it has spread. You are successful when you have become known and talked about; when you have essentially spread. Today, sliced bread is everywhere. Just by being talked about, its success has become gigantic. But how exactly do we get our products to stand out in a sea of products all blurring and fading in on each other? By finding a way to stand out and get talked about. That’s why Seth Godin poses that bad or bizarre ideas are much better than boring ones. No one cares about the ordinary; but everyone cares about the different, no matter how insanely or obnoxiously different it is.
Godin goes on to talk about how to stand out. Be remarkable, he says. He continues to say that one of the best ways to be remarkable, to be talked about, is to talk to those who want to listen. Instead of broadcasting your ideas to the deaf masses, find those few people who are already invested in what you have, those geeks who are passionate about that car or that particular brand of speakers. They are going to talk about your brand or your product without being asked and they will become your powerful endorsers. Don’t sell to the masses, says Godin, find your niche instead.
But how does all this translate to us working in the fashion business? Because these days, success goes to whatever or whoever is fashionable, the most talked about, the one that stands out of the diffusion of information. Knowing how to be fashionable and stay fashionable has become the key to success.
To Our Students:
This may be news to many but it’s nothing new for young students who are all too aware of the value of being remarkable and “fashionable” in today’s social media. But still, it never hurts to have the concept broken down in a structured way by entrepreneur and bestselling author Seth Godin. With just a little perspective, measuring success with how fast and how widely you can spread an idea and linking it directly to how remarkable it is can easily translate into a business process.
Are you thinking of investing in a small start up this summer? Are you giving some thought to starting a small business with your friends? If you are, then your summer break might be a good time to find some real life applications to Seth Godin’s ideas. Be bold, be shocking, stand out from the crowd, and grab people’s attention is what Godin’s telling you to do. Be anything but boring! In this day and age, it could just be the key to wild success.