Our Sales Rep Laura Turner recently toured the home offices of Zappos near Las Vegas (I’ve blogged about this amazing online shoe company before – see Taking Care of Your Customer). While she was there, Laura received a book titled Purple Cow–Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. This “Purple Cow” concept is one of the reasons for Zappos’ success. Besides their incredible sales growth, Zappos debuted at No. 23 on the Fortune Magazine list of the Best Companies to Work for – making them the highest-ranking newcomer.
So what is a Purple Cow? and what principles drive Zappos’ success? The idea is that cows are boring, but a Purple Cow – now that’s pretty interesting! A Purple Cow company (or product) is truly remarkable.
No matter how much you spend on marketing, if your product or service is average, you are wasting your money. The last decade of digital and noise “pollution,” as I like to call it, has made us a population that blocks out most advertising.
Unless our product or service is remarkable and people need or want it, we’ll find it tough to compete. We would spend money best on research & development first, and then on creating remarkable products or services, before pouring money into marketing. Find a niche or underserved market and then design a product for it.
What does that mean for existing business and product lines? If you are in the gourmet cookie business, for example, make sure your cookies are out-of-this-world delicious. You want people to be calling from several states away just to order them or Twittering all their friends about them. Choose packaging so unique and beautiful customers will keep it when the cookies are gone. I hope you get my point.
How can YOU be remarkable? It begins with your merchandise. Is it unique, or can the same stuff be found all over town? Even the CEO of Target says they can’t compete with Wal-Mart. However, Target has created its own niche by being the best at what they do: they seek out trendy designers to make exclusive home décor items, clothes and accessories at affordable prices. You don’t get that same vibe shopping at Wal-Mart or K-Mart. Target’s Purple Cow strategy, according to Seth Godin, is offering “cool products that appeal to people who both buy new stuff and talk about it a lot.”
It’s not always about being the cheapest. It’s about appealing to people on an emotional level, or emotional marketing. It’s providing customers with unique merchandise in an attractive store that appeals to all their senses, then connecting with them on a personal level. Build relationships and provide over-the-top customer service. Start a Facebook fan page or use Twitter to grow your social network. In today’s impersonal world, people crave humor and genuineness – so keep it fun and real.
In the era of Google, customers don’t want to be sold. They want to research their purchases. When people are looking for you, make sure you have a searchable website that showcases what you do.
Stand out from the crowd. Find your niche, offer a remarkable product, and then market it remarkably. Be that Purple Cow everybody is talking about.
Thanks for this great article. Reaffirms for me what I have felt from the beginning of starting my business and what I feel as a customer!
Heart of a Cowgirl
I know this has nothing to do with the Purple Cow. http://dreamingofcastles.blogspot.com/2009/05/cello-bags-best-value.html
just wanted to say thanks for your great deals on celo bags… I posted on my blog!
Letha M says
As an employee at Zappos, Purple Cow was one of the first books I read and I couldn’t agree more! Since I started working at Zappos, I notice how low my tolerence is for businesses that don’t provide great customer service. Even in these tough economic times, I am willing to spend a little more if it means that I will be treated like someone of value. Any company that appreciates the Purple Cow philosophy gets my hard earned dollar!
The Summer Kitchen Girls says
Hey Buffie – great article…so true, so true!
Karla & Karrie
Patricia Merritt says
Wonderful new wraps. Nashville is always my “go to”company for wraps. Now needing candy boxes for my new “old” fudge.
Thanks for always being innovative.
Joyce Reid says
I read Seth’s book several years ago and have followed his suggestions. Being the best you can possibly be while being unique enough to stand out in the crowd is essential in today’s economy.