I read Seth Godin’s Purple Cow again recently, his seminal work that challenges all of us to put a Purple Cow—something truly exceptional—into everything we create or do. The simplicity of the message belies the book’s profound nature: Purple Cow is nothing short of a business and marketing mandate—an always-relevant and resounding call to action—to create products and services that are worth marketing in the first place.
The subtitle of Purple Cow says it all: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. I can honestly say this principle, the chance to create something truly remarkable, is what motivates me to come to work every day and love what I do. It’s what gets me through the minutiae—the purely logistical, but necessary aspects of running my own inbound marketing agency.
How about you? I’m sure this message resonates with you as well, so I thought I’d share some book excerpts and lessons learned, including how we’ve applied them at our agency, in hope that it spurs feedback about what inspires you to create something truly remarkable.
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A New “P” Is Needed
The book’s theme encourages departure from the tried and true—the traditional 5 P’s of marketing (every marketer has favorite five), which are based on a combination of factors, including product, pricing, positioning, promotion, publicity, packaging, pass-along, and permission. The 5 Ps functioned as a kind of marketing checklist and more or less ensured success in bygone days.
But this is no longer the case. A new P is needed, Godin asserts; one that’s now critically important to marketing and business success. (1)
If for no other reason, you should make sure you’re acquainted with Purple Cow because it offers a bevy of fascinating insights, case studies, and best practices that can help you grow your business.
Instead of summarizing, I thought I would give you a few quotes that lay out the theme, and I can’t think of a better way of doing so than sharing the author’s 10 suggestions, as outlined in an article he wrote for Fast Company. He offers a number of useful and actionable recommendations:
Making and marketing something remarkable means asking new questions — and trying new practices. Here are 10 suggestions.
Differentiate your customers. Find the group that's most profitable. Find the group that's most likely to influence other customers. Figure out how to develop for, advertise to, or reward either group. Ignore the rest. Cater to the customers you would choose if you could choose your customers.
If you could pick one underserved niche to target (and to dominate), what would it be? Why not launch a product to compete with your own that does nothing but appeal to that market?
Create two teams: the inventors and the milkers. Put them in separate buildings. Hold a formal ceremony when you move a product from one group to the other. Celebrate them both and rotate people around.
Do you have the email addresses of the 20% of your customer base that loves what you do? If not, start getting them. If you do, what could you make for them that would be super special?
Remarkable isn't always about changing the biggest machine in your factory. It can be the way you answer the phone, launch a new brand, or price a revision to your software. Getting in the habit of doing the "unsafe" thing every time you have the opportunity is the best way to see what's working and what's not.
Explore the limits. What if you're the cheapest, the fastest, the slowest, the hottest, the coldest, the easiest, the most efficient, the loudest, the most hated, the copycat, the outsider, the hardest, the oldest, the newest, or just the most! If there's a limit, you should (must) test it.
Think small. One vestige of the TV-industrial complex is a need to think mass. If it doesn't appeal to everyone, the thinking goes, it's not worth it. No longer. Think of the smallest conceivable market and describe a product that overwhelms it with its remarkability. Go from there.
Find things that are "just not done" in your industry, and then go ahead and do them.
For example, JetBlue Airways almost instituted a dress code — for its passengers! The company is still playing with the idea of giving a free airline ticket to the best-dressed person on the plane.
A plastic surgeon could offer gift certificates. A book publisher could put a book on sale for a certain period of time. Stew Leonard's took the strawberries out of the little green plastic cages and let the customers pick their own. Sales doubled.
Ask, "Why not?" Almost everything you don't do has no good reason for it. Almost everything you don't do is the result of fear or inertia or a historical lack of someone asking, "Why not?"
10. What would happen if you simply told the truth inside your company and to your customers?
Don't Have Time to Read the Whole Book?
We've got you covered. In our full summary of this staple in any Marketing library, we'll take these 10 tips in more detail and show you how to adapt them to your organization to create remarkable content and overall remarkable brand.
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