Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable – Seth Godin

For my first post I decided to write about a book I read called “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin.  Seth Godin  has written thirteen books, all of which have become best sellers.  American Way Magazine even calls him “America’s Greatest Marketer”.

Godin believes that the industry of ‘interruption marketing’ including radio, TV and spam or the ‘TV Industrial Complex’ are no longer effective.  The older ways of reaching a consumer don’t work as well as they used to.  A more effective approach to reaching your customer is through ‘permission marketing’ in which companies treat their prospects as an asset and give them something personal, relevant or anticipated.  “Although the service or product provided must be remarkable.  This is where Godin believes a ‘purple cow’ should be introduced.

Godin explains that the original P’s of marketing (Product, Pricing, Promotion, Positioning, Publicity, Packaging, Pass-along and Permission) are no longer enough.  For a company to be remarkable if must incorporate a “Purple Cow”.  The P’s can no longer be used as a reliable checklist that ensure successful marketing

The fallacy of the ‘TV Industrial Complex’ is that consumers now have more choices whenit comes to purchasing products.  People simply do not have the time to sort out all of these products so most advertisements are ignored. This was not the case twenty years ago.  Consumers used to have more time and fewer choices so in turn disposable income had less ways to get squandered.  When companies had come up with an innovative product back then most people found a way to pay for it.

Godin’s solution to this ‘TV Industrial Complex’ is to make your product remarkable.  Since mass marketing simply does not work anymore he suggests that marketers create an amazing product and attempt to dominate a niche market or a small specific audience.  When these niche markets or early adapters come across a good product or service they ‘sneeze’ a ‘virus’ onto their friends and family.  This refers to word of mouth marketing which is where the focus of the book refers back to.  Focusing on these small groups once entering the niche would be far more effective then spending dollars on advertising elsewhere.

Looking at ‘Moore’s diffusion curve’ we can see the product life cycle Godin provides in his book. Regardless of the industry, successful products follow a similar pattern after they are introduced. The ‘Innovators’ at the beginning of the curve is where companies should focus most of their advertising.  Even though the majority of customers are the ‘Early and Late Majority’,  the ‘sneezers’ are more important because of how much influence they have on the curve. To reach this group of ‘innovators’ or ‘sneezers’ marketers will have to take a whole new approach to marketing.  Involving designers in the marketing process and working with the ‘sneezers’, giving them the tools (and a story) they’ll need to sell the idea to a wider audience.

Godin suggest that once the team has crossed from being remarkable to being a profitable business to let a different team milk it.  Productize services, service products and let other variations bloom.  Although there can be success, looking at the product life cycle, it is inevitable that a  product will slide downward.  After a company milks it they should reinvest and do it again with a vengeance  while failing again and again. Assume that what was remarkable last time won’t be remarkable this time.

Examples of ‘Purple Cows’ from the book include products such as: Starbucks, JetBlue, Apple products, Barbie and other remarkable businesses.  Godin provides case studies and poses questions at the end of every chapter such as “What would happen if you spent as much money on innovation as you are currently spending on advertising”.  The old rule was to create safe, ordinary products and combine them with great marketing.  The new rule is to create remarkable products that the right people seek out.

One of my favorite quotes from the books is “The opposite of remarkable is very good”.  Quality and good service is something consumers already take as a given.  Creating a purple cow is about producing something that goes beyond that and is worth talking about even after the product or service’s expiration.  I think this can be applied to all different aspects of life and almost any industry.

Overall I think this book was a good read.  There are definitely some quality concepts that could be adopted by almost anyone.

OBEY – Summer 2010

It seems like just yesterday I was in the OBEY Clothing Company’s warehouse packing t-shirts to be shipped to various accounts such as Karmaloop and Urban Outfitters.  It sounds like working in a warehouse during a summer off from college would be a bad thing, but when it’s Southern California any job is welcoming.

I have to say this is the best internship I’ve ever had.  I’ve worked in various areas of the apparel industry with larger corporations and smaller brands, but none of them have had the type of family environment that this one has.  I have been following OBEY since my sophomore year in high school with the  dream that I would work with them one day.  I even completed a Brand Management project on OBEY during my sophomore year in college at NCSU’s College of Textiles.  So to Mary, Tom, Danny, Ashley and all the guys in the warehouse, I thank you for the amazing opportunity.

When I first arrived I was placed in the visual marketing department where I would arrange different samples produced that would later become the items used in a showroom for buyers. The team in visuals is a small group of guys that I clicked with immediately.  It felt like I was just hanging out with friends which made working more rewarding.  The marketing team and I would then pick the best samples from the upcoming season and create a showroom for buyers depending on which account was visiting.  OBEY seemed to know their accounts well and which garments they would find more attractive than others.   In my case the accounts I prepared for were Karmaloop and Urban Outfitters.

I also helped assemble and paint over wooden displays that were used as visual

After working in marketing for a few weeks I had begun to look for a job.  My internship was unpaid and I flew to California from North Carolina with no source of income.  I was not going to let money stand in the way of completing my dream internship.  I was fortunate to be offered a job at OBEY’s warehouse in the shipping department.  During my time in the warehouse I worked in shipping during the week and the company’s bi-annual sample sale.  My main responsibilities were receiving orders and filling them  for all of their vendors across the world.  These orders would then be packaged and shipped to the proper retail store, boutique or online account the next day.

I learned so much working for OBEY and being in California that summer that I will take with me as a I journey through the rest of my career.  Not only did I learn the power of visual marketing but I also learned how important it is to work in an environment that you enjoy.  The team at OBEY love their job and it shows through their work.

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