Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I Never Saw a Purple Cow...

And I've been combing websites looking to pillage other peoples ideas for something interesting that I can add my two cents to. I'm feeling a little ill today, so maybe my brain is plugged. I did find some great thoughts in Seth Godin's Purple Cow theory:

While driving through France a few years ago, my family and I were enchanted by the hundreds of storybook cows grazing in lovely pastures right next to the road. For dozens of kilometers, we all gazed out the window, marveling at the beauty. Then, within a few minutes, we started ignoring the cows. The new cows were just like the old cows, and what was once amazing was now common. Worse than common: It was boring.
Cows, after you've seen them for a while, are boring. They may be well-bred cows, Six Sigma cows, cows lit by a beautiful light, but they are still boring. A Purple Cow, though: Now, that would really stand out. The essence of the Purple Cow -- the reason it would shine among a crowd of perfectly competent, even undeniably excellent cows -- is that it would be remarkable . Something remarkable is worth talking about, worth paying attention to. Boring stuff quickly becomes invisible.
The world is full of boring stuff -- brown cows -- which is why so few people pay attention. Remarkable marketing is the art of building things worth noticing right into your product or service. Not just slapping on the marketing function as a last-minute add-on, but also understanding from the outset that if your offering itself isn't remarkable, then it's invisible -- no matter how much you spend on well-crafted advertising.

Of course, every business blogger that knows anything has probably already read Seth Godin's book. The problem, as I see it, is that too many people making the big decisions in advertising, have not. Everywhere you look - the message is still about branding ie. if somebody loves your brand enough their money is yours for ever. This is the basic generalization behind Lovemarks, of course.

The truth is though, talk to any average consumer that you meet on the street, and they are more likely to inform you that they buy based on research (Consumer Reports, anyone?) and also on which product have worked for their friends. Just because somebody owns a sony TV, does not mean that they will buy anything else from Sony, if the products are crap, or if somebody else makes the same thing for less $$. Hence the sea of brown cows, and the need to be remarkable if you are going to be noticed. A tip for marketing people out there: It doesn't matter how you spin that brown cow, at the end of the day well, most consumers are pretty smart, and they'll see right through you.


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