Seth Godin’s book ‘Purple Cow,’ is a small but incredibly thought-provoking and legendary book that essentially explains how to create a business that people talk about.
A purple cow is remarkable. In a field of cows, I bet you have never seen a purple one. That’s why you would say it’s remarkable and tell your friends about it. Seth uses this analogy to describe remarkable businesses that stand out from the rest of the field.
In an era of increasing online competition and an obsession with numbers since we can now measure everything from impressions to click throughs, people approach me saying they want “thousands of customers,” which makes me think they are unlikely to do so.
Here are 5 key take-aways from Purple Cow that will hopefully help anyone that has asked me recently about how to get thousands of customers:
People don’t talk about things that don’t interest them. Remarkable things get talked about. Here are some examples of remarkable things happening recently that I am talking about:
The new Netflix documentary about the fishing industry destroying the oceans, ‘Seaspiracy,’ is now 4th in the UK Netflix table and so far. It’s so remarkable, horrifying and illuminating that thousands of people have said they will stop eating fish on the back of seeing this one film.
A boat longer than the Eiffel tower doesn’t get stuck in the world’s busiest shipping lane every day. That’s why we talk about it – because it’s remarkable.
(On a slightly different scale of remarkable) When a new bagel store opened close to my house offering free bagels to promote the product, I obviously told my house mate and other friends who lived locally. We all went, had a banging bagel and now, we are long term customers. Free bagels doesn’t happen every day. We talked about it because it’s remarkable.
If you’re remarkable, people talk. If people talk, your client base will grow and your business will prosper.
Ideas that spread win - Seth Godin
Likelihood is, there is plenty of competition for whatever market sector you are trying to enter. So how do you stand out? Most businesses I have spoken to so far seem to think that by just adjusting price or making a superior product, customers will come.
But this is wrong.
Customers don’t always buy the best and cheapest product.People buy mainly because of emotion rather than analytical information (costs less and does x faster than competitors). In a world where we literally see thousands of adverts every day, a business needs to emotionally resonate with a particular target audience to be successful.
If you have a marketing budget as large as a thousand employee business, you need to be so remarkable that whether there is a cheaper, superior alternative product out there, it doesn’t cross your target customers mind.
In many markets, the value of the group isn’t related to the size – a group’s value is related to it’s influence - Seth Godin
Early adopters (those who try things first before other people)heavily influence whether something diffuses through the rest of the adaption curve or not.
To use a simple example, do you remember when the popular kids at school got in to the spinning plastic diablos and then that craze spread like wildfire? Or those stick on tattoos that I remember being so popular when Ben (the cool kid) first got one.
If the early adopters liked it, the majority would soon follow.
So how do you become remarkable?
Which customers are underserved in your industry? These customers may not be the largest group but they are probably going to be the most committed to you if you commit to them. Remember, the majority are not necessarily the ones with most influence or value.
When you have customers, differentiate them. Find the group that’s most profitable and why. Then figure out what they particularly love about your brand and why. After this, work out how to offer a rewards program and then target ads and products catered to this audience.
Note: your business idea isn’t remarkable if you are just copying someone else’s idea
Smart businesses try and minimise risk from the process but still try and create a purple cow. They know that sometimes, it’s not going to work but they accept that it is more likely to work than just playing it safe.
Also, criticism comes with those who stand out. If you are afraid of criticism, you may never take risk. Be prepared to be loved by a few and have criticism from others. This is a good sign. This means people are talking about you and you are attracting loyal fans
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