I’ll have what @herdmeister’s having

This evening, I’m tearing through the latest book from Mark Earls (aka @herdmeister), “I’ll Have What She’s Having” (which he co-authored with Alex Bentley and Michael J O’Brien).


It’s fascinating, thought-provoking, and contains some really useful, practical structures around using data around a business to understand what sort of market you’re in; is it one where people truly decide autonomously based on precise information, or really are they simply copying others because nobody really knows the difference between products.

One paragraph in particular grabbed my attention, probably because of the idea amnesia and adverspectacular posts I wrote recently.

“…everyone else is also trying to spread his or her ideas the same way.  It’s like shouting across Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  Most of our attempts to spread our ideas or to generate attention for them fail because , as Charles Darwin realised upon reading Thomas Malthus’s essay on population and food supplies, there is only limited space for success.  Hindsight is 20/20, so we look back, trying to emulate past successes that no one predicted beforehand, no matter how lucky or complex or timely those past successes were…”

We’re all copying machines, as Mark says.  Especially when we can see what everyone else is doing.  So we copy what we can see them doing, because, hey, it can’t be wrong.

But actually, given space is rapidly filled up by “me-too” activity (eg – everyone has a Facebook page, and is demanding time and love from a limited pool of users), any previously successful tactic or strategy will be a lot less likely to work again.

And what’s more, it’ll be really hard and frustrating for people to work out why, because of the complexity around the mutating network, increased activity, cultural shifts and so on.

So, ironically, understanding more about how people copy each other in making decisions might make you less inclined to look for success in spreading messages and stories by copying someone else’s marketing ideas.

Anyway, no doubt you’ve already got a copy of IHWSH, but if not, treat yourself here.  You won’t be disappointed.