Would I recommend the Long Tail?
Imagine you wanted a song. Just one song, not the entire CD. Or DVD. How could you get the song? Your answer would be simple. You’d go to a site like iTunes and download the song, right? And the Long Tail digs deep into this single song download phenomenon. And starts to unravel how most products can have a shelf life of forever.
Understanding this simple concept of ‘forever’ is what will make your business realise just how your revenues can be linked to this ‘forever’ concept too. And how a lack of understanding, can cause you to lose revenue (and customers). Yes, forever!
I’d rate it as a four-sticky book. And it gets that slightly lower rating, not because of the concept (which is superb, by the way). But more so, because of the application-factor (see below). Over time, however, we may see the ‘Long Tail’ change software and the way we work–at which point, I’ll be glad to revise this review.
It’s a three-sticky on application. And that’s not because the book itself lacks ideas, but it’s kinda hard for a small business owner to wrap their heads around how to apply the concepts effectively. The concepts are simply: Put everything up there that you have to sell. And then help me find it.
Which is a great idea, but requires a fair bit of back-end programming and most certainly the ability to do a mini-Amazon.com or mini-iTunes.com. With many of the bigger sites, the client already knows a bit about what they’re looking for. It’s much easier to get to Amazon.com looking for a book or a DVD. It’s much harder getting to an anonymous site, and then knowing what to look for. So yeah, I’d be looking for a sequel that gives me examples of application.
Despite the application being a little hard to wrap your database around , the book scores a perfect five-sticky on ideas. There’s a good reason why. The ideas are progressive. You quickly see how certain formats are going the way of the dinosaur (CD Sales have plummeted like, forever). And why these formats aren’t working. But more importantly, the book also gives you an insight into how you can take new technology (e.g. Facebook, mySpace etc.) and still muck up big time. The Long Tail delves deep into distribution (and why it works/and why it doesn’t). It looks at how democratisation of tools of production and distribution changes all the rules we know so well.
But most importantly, it explores markets without end. And it does so, with solid data and tons of style.
Talking about style…well, here we go. Chris Anderson slides you through several new concepts quite effortlessly. The style of writing is simple, and if anything slows you down at all, it’s the realisation of what you’re going to have to do to live in a world where several ‘Long Tails’ extend forever. Your business brain is going to hit quite a few speed bumps, but it’s not for want of style. I read this book thrice (maybe four times) and each time it just flowed from page to page.
My Biggest Insight
Well, that’s kinda hard to say, because this book has a lot of ‘emerging technology and consequent customer behaviour’ stuff. But what really took me by surprise, was the concept of the 80:20 Rule. And how the 80 and the 20 don’t have to add up at all. I know it sounds obvious, but you do get taken aback when you learn that 80:10 works just as well as 80:35 or 80:20 for that matter.
Some of the powerful concepts in this book (and how you start applying them today): (Note: The links go to similar-kinda Psychotactics articles.I’ll add more links as I write more articles.)
1) The ‘Internet-Only’ Generation: How do you market to a generation that won’t watch TV?
2) The 98% Rule: How tiny, tiny, tiny niches sell via the digital medium at least once.
3) How Geography Matters in distribution (And why it may not matter any more).
4) Markets without end? Is there such a concept?
5) How Long Tails exist everywhere: And the rise and fall of ‘hits’.
6) Is Choice good or is it bad? I’m saying it’s bad. Chris says it’s good. (Read my version: The Curse of Choice)
7) The Three Forces: Why the world of supply and demand is changing.
Why ‘My Chemical Romance’ succeeded, but Bonnie McKae failed in an almost identical environment (and despite the best of stats and data).
9) Why Context is King. And how filters work for or against you.
Where To Get This Book (Nope, this ain’t an affiliate link)
At Amazon.com : ‘The Long Tail’
- Author: Chris Anderson
- Hardcover: 238 pages
- Publisher: Hyperion (July 11, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1401302378
- ISBN-13: 978-1401302375