<B>It's what's in the box that counts</B> Seth Godin, a best-selling author, entrepreneur and self-described "agent of change," ushers in the next big marketing idea with <B>Free Prize Inside!</B>. The author of <I>Purple Cow</I> and <I>Permission Marketing</I> focuses on creating great products through innovation rather than spending a fortune advertising average products. Godin is not championing revolutionary change (major R&andD is expensive and unpredictable), but what he calls "soft" innovations that are cheap, clever and small. Hence the free prize idea the product extras that create buzz. For example, music lovers couldn't stop telling others about the sleek design of the Apple iPod, and the hilarious Cranium board game generated interest because it was sold only in Starbucks stores. To emphasize the free-prize concept, the first edition of Godin's book will be sold in a cereal box (<I>Purple Cow</I> debuted in a milk carton).
Godin spends one-third of the book explaining how to sell an idea internally. Start by building your reputation in advance, he advises. Champion small projects, like organizing a take-out lunch. Then denigrate the status quo to create urgency. Finally, find a way to prove the idea will be successful, even if you have no idea whether it will be or not.
Godin's playfulness makes <B>Free Prize Inside!</B> fun and easy to read. He revels in coining new words like "sneezer" (to describe an influential person) and thoughtfully provides a four-page summary at the end so you can pretend you've read the whole thing. Plus, his end notes are a riot. This one is not to be missed.
<I>Stephanie Swilley will receive her MBA this month from Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management.</I>