Ever wondered how certain ideas grew to become the hits they are today? Well, Malcolm Gladwell knows all too well what it takes for an idea to spread like wildfire and he explains this in his bestseller The Tipping Point.
This book has gained a cult-like status in the world of marketing as many people struggle to get their ideas out there and form brands that will hit. This ‘The Tipping Point’ summary will look at the plot of the book and some of the nuggets of wisdom passed along by Gladwell.
The Three Rules of Epidemics – Gladwell looks at the science of epidemics (like syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV) and what makes them jolt out of equilibrium and make them tip. It is from this science that he has identified his three agents of change that can cause an idea to tip. These are; the law of the few, the stickiness factor and the power of context.
He identifies that for something to tip there must be small actions occurring at the right time, in the right place and in the presence of the right people.
The Law of the Few – here Gladwell notes that an epidemic will only start if a few highly infectious individuals become the vectors for an idea or product. These individuals will adopt the idea or product themselves or spread the word about it. “The answer is that the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”
The people who can be used to make an idea or product tip are there all around us. He calls them the connectors, mavens and salesmen. Connectors are the people who know a lot of people. Some people have a gift of making social connections with people around them, and they can be used to spread the word about your idea or product. Since they know lots of people, your idea will get to many people, and it will start to spread around.
Mavens, on the other hand, are experts in issues and knowledgeable people. When mavens say something, the others listen because they are respected as informed decision makers. They have information on the market, and they are likely to pass that information to you.
Market mavens are obsessed with prices, and they keep the market honest. They are more socially motivated and therefore want to help people by directing them to what is right using their knowledge.
Salesmen are the third group of people he talks about. These are the people with the power to persuade others. They are highly charismatic and enthusiastic people. They are not the pushy people we know as salesmen today.
A good salesman is actually loved by the people because he is contagious in a subtle way not by being pushy. These are the people who will push your brand around and ensure that it is spreading like wildfire.
The Stickiness Factor – for an epidemic to spread, the contagious agent being moved around has itself to be sticky or contagious. It has to stick to the people that it is being sent to. When the connectors, mavens, and salesmen take your idea or product around, and it is doesn’t have the stickiness factor, it is going to fail.
“In epidemics, the messenger matters: messengers are what make something spread. But the content of the message matters too. And the specific quality that a message needs to be successful is the quality of “stickiness.” Is the message — or the food, or the movie, or the product — memorable? Is it so memorable, intact, that it can create change, that it can spur someone to action?”
He gives examples of some TV shows and books that lacked in the stickiness factor and how they had to be updated to add to the stickiness so they could become a hit. When you have a sticky message, it is more likely to stay with the people even after they have only heard it once. It, therefore, goes viral.
The Power of Context – in the book this chapter is divided into two parts. The spread of an epidemic will depend on whether the context is right or not. He advises that before launching a product you should target the context and not the consumer so that the consumers can adapt to the context.
Consumers will always be able to relate to a product or an idea that is in context. When a product is in context, it is able to meet the occasion, the situations, and the needs that the people have at that time. When that happens, it is bound to become an epidemic.
In this chapter, he also discusses group properties and the 150 group size. For a group of people to grow together intimately and know each other well then the group should not be bigger than 150. In groups of more than 150 intimacy and efficiency is lost and therefore groups cannot grow.
The last part of the book is on case studies for instance of how Airwalk was able to expand their market and sell to more than just skaters. There is also the case study of suicide, smoking among teenagers.
What I Like About the Book
The book is very easy to read and understand. The points are very well explained and real-life stories, case studies and interviews are used. The book, therefore, is highly relatable and easy to adopt to bring changes to your life.
Why You Should Read the Book
You should read this book if you have a product or idea that you want to go viral or become a hit. Gladwell teaches you how you can use the people around you to bring the required change to make things get out of equilibrium and tip. You will appreciate how this book can help you change your marketing tactics so you can get your brand more out there and be able to grow.