Book Review: 'Free Prize Inside' by Godin

Updated on January 27, 2018
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of 2, and a published sci-fi and horror author.

Free Prize Inside by Godin, a Book Review

“Free Prize Inside” is a marketing and business book by Seth Godin. What are the pros and cons of this Seth Godin book?

Cover of Godin's Book "Free Prize Inside"
Cover of Godin's Book "Free Prize Inside" | Source

Pros of “Free Prize Inside”

This book discusses how to find those innovations, those minor improvements or combined complimentary services, that add value and make the product stand out from the competition. Note, this isn’t necessarily adding yet another feature to your product.

Godin gives straightforward advice on the economics of the “free prize” and innovation. Don’t spend a fortune on what may not yield dramatic gains in sales.

What constitutes a “free prize” that distinguishes you in the marketplace? And what can you do if you can’t afford to reengineer your product or dramatically reduce its price? Little things that make it easier for customers – he quotes the cranberry juice and sore throat drop for someone with hernia surgery over standard care – can yield massive rewards. Godin lists many other innovations / conveniences that have a high ROI because they make the product better than the competition at relatively little cost.

Godin describes the soft innovations in marketing that you can use to sell more of your product or service at little cost. His condensation of this advice is, “inflame the passionate”.

Godin’s section synopsis and chapter summaries help make sure his message gets across. He even has a section at the front on what you can read to get the gist of the book and put it in practice before you have time to read the whole thing.

Godin’s advice on how to fight internal resistance is true whether combining services to lead to more sales or “let’s make these changes to your process”. How you sell your idea to your own organization so that they become reality is true regardless of whether it is a design change or process change, as well.

Seth Godin’s recommendations on how to sell ideas are valid and useful whether you’re selling a soft innovation in the marketplace or any other project idea you have. And the selling tactics it describes can even be used to explain why you should get that promotion or job transfer.

Godin’s book lists many categories of “free prizes” that you can use, if you can’t come up with one of your own. For example, values based marketing, charitable donation linked purchases, cause based marketing (as long as you don’t offend your customers in the process), low cost approach, customized pay for only what you need services and more.

Cons of “Free Prize Inside”

Many of the technological innovations and stories in the book are very dated, given the fast pace of internet and tech industry changes. I wish there was an update.

Observations

As an engineer, I agree with Godin’s advice that solving a problem is worth as much as a new feature – or even more, if people were paying for solutions to the problems with your product. For example, someone gets a device and then pay for an additional software application to do what the OS doesn’t. And Godin is right that if you fix something that is broken, you already have your “free prize”.

Godin champions soft innovation in the workplace. Lean engineering, process improvement methodologies from 5S to Six Sigma and others give you a clearer, methodical way to do this beyond modest changes to a product or service. His observations on why people are afraid to step outside of the formal chain of command in the workplace are spot on. As an industrial engineer, I can also testify to his statement that not all innovations come from the top. Quality circles and other process improvement methods that take ideas from people on the shop floor to improve products and processes are thoroughly proven.

Scott Adam’s 2016 book stated that quality beyond what is necessary to work is a luxury. Set Godin’s book “Free Prize” says the same thing: quality is fine for market leaders and people with deep pockets, but most other people don’t need that as their focus to succeed in the marketplace.

Summary

There are few marketing books that double as general business books and process improvement guides. “Free Prize” by Godin is an excellent resource whether you want to figure out how to differentiate your product or service in the market, sell your ideas or yourself to the public or your boss or open up the lines of communication with the team to generate that flow of ideas that let you improve both your product and your operations.

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