Purple Cow – Seth Godin

Purple Cow – Seth Godin

purple cowHere’s a classic by Seth Godin introducing a system for marketing in the modern era. Seth explains that the traditional marketing essentials of the 5 “P”s (Product, Price, Positioning, Packaging, Publicity) are no longer enough to make your product or service a success in the modern era; and suggests the old weapons of TV and mass media advertising are no longer effective in making a product a marketing success.

The important new marketing “P” stands for Purple Cow- the art of being remarkable, worth talking about, noticing, exceptional, new, interesting, stands out… and therefore changes the rules…

The old marketing rule was:

  • Create safe
  • Ordinary/standard products
  • Combine with great marketing
  • TV Advertising and Mass media used to drive sales and profits
  • Expensive marketing budgets
  • Mass market targeting

New marketing rule is:

  • Create remarkable Products
  • Design products for the right people to seek out (influential early adopters/Sneezers)
  • Word of mouth viral marketing drives growth
  • Marketing investment- Think small, let product do the talking
  • Niche marketing target, let product overwhelm its target audience

Instead of trying to use your technology and expertise to make a better product for your users’ standard behaviour, experiment by getting your users to change their standard behaviour to make the product work dramatically better.

If the product’s future is unlikely to be remarkable- if you can’t imagine a future in which people are once again fascinated by your product- it’s time to realise that the game has changed. Instead of investing in a dying product, take profits and reinvest them in building something new.

It’s not an accident that some products catch on and some don’t. When an “ideavirus” occurs, it’s often because all the viral pieces work together. How smooth and easy is it to spread your idea? How often will people sneeze it to their friends?

It is useless to advertise to anyone (except interested sneezers with influence…)

Differentiate your customers. Find the group that’s most profitable. Find the group that’s most likely to sneeze. Figure out how to develop/advertise/reward either group. Ignore the rest. Your ads (and your products!) shouldn’t cater to the masses, they should cater to the customers you’d choose if you could choose your customers. (Case: Large bank choosing Internet based customers)

Make a list of competitors who are not trying to be everything to everyone; are they outperforming you? If you could pick one underserved niche to target (and dominate), what would it be? Why not launch a product to compete with your own- a product that does nothing but appeal to this market?

Being a Purple Cow is so rare because people are afraid of being remarkable, they usually play it safe but being boring can lead to failure and is a risky strategy to follow. If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you, and you won’t get much praise. Criticism comes to those who stand out.

What tactics do you use that involve following the industry leader? What if you abandoned them and did something very different instead? If you acknowledge that you’ll never catch up by being the same, make a list of ways you can catch up by being different.

Purple Cows use a smarter more targeted marketing strategies to get to and engage early adopters /sneezers, mass marketing strategy is a risky tactic and can bring many a good product to its knees for lack of control of finances esp. Marketing spend.

Mass marketers hate to measure… What gets measured, gets done or improves…

The opposite of Remarkable is… “very good”; very good is an everyday occurrence and hardly worth mentioning, it’s not virus worthy

Incredible packaging can be a worthy marketing strategy, adding value to the customer experience of using the product (Case: Dr Bronner’s)

Managing to appear in a parody is a clear sign of uniqueness, something worth poking fun at. Developing this to national level to be pciked up by celebrities can create huge attention, sales, and profits.

Sales are far easier when you are targeting your marketing to an already converted audience, and adding so much value to the customer experience that the converted sneeze your product or service to their own circle of influence. (Case: Pearl Jam)

Can you create a collectable version of your product, this strategy can engage different markets and can have boosting affect on existing markets (Case: Curad- plasters with characters on them created a product every kid and family needed)

When marketing it’s vital to come up with a remarkable marketing campaign, doing marketing for the sake of it and compromising on quality can do far greater damage to product or service than doing nothing at all. What would happen if you took 1 or 2 seasons off from the new product grind and reintroduced wonderful classics instead? What amazing thing could you offer in your first season back?

“Otaku” something that’s more than a hobby but slightly less than an obsession eg. Driving across town to get to your favorite Kebab shop/Noodle Bar. Consumers with Otaku are the sneezers you seek to promote your product or service…

When entering a new marketplace have amazing giveaways of your product to all the early adopters and sneezers that have heard about you before to convert more sneezers to your cause. Your product must be remarkable for this strategy to work. (Case: Krispy Kreme)

Powerful slogans should be based on a script that communicates the essence of your Purple Cow, a script that your sneezers can use when talking to their friends

Sell what people are buying (and talking about)

Don’t compromise when it comes to developing a new Purple Cow, compromise can only diminish your chance of success. Find the right creative, driven maverick to lead the project and get out of the way.

Build the marketing into the product in the design stage. Marketing and design are now so interwoven that marketers need to learn about design, and designers learn about marketing; both should then spend time in the factory

The challenge in creating a Purple Cow is in projecting the market’s tastes. You can do this through 2 techniques:

  1. Learning the art of projecting: getting inside the heads of your sneezers to find out what they love and care about in your product/service
  2. Learn the science of projecting: to build a discipline of launching products, watching, measuring, learning, and doing it again (eg. Toy or Car industry prototype shows)

Being outrageous does not necessary mean that you are remarkable; it’s not how you say things that matters, it’s what you say…

Remarkable isn’t always about having the latest technology, it can be how you answer the phone, launch a new brand or how you price an upgrade to software.

Getting into the habit of doing the unsafe thing at every opportunity allows you to really test the boundaries in your industry, and helps you project what’s working and not

If you could build a competitor that had costs that were 30 percent lower than yours, could you do it? If you could, why don’t you?

(review thanks to my good friend Ahmad Rajab in Ireland)

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