Have you ever wondered about the relationship between product development and marketing? In this book, Purple Cow, Seth Godin discusses how important it is to develop an amazing product or service (a purple cow) as the foundation to a successful business. Once you have a strong product/service, the rest can easily fall into place.
Here are the key points that really stood out to me:
- Focus on making something amazing
- Market to the sneezers
- Don’t compromise
Keep reading for more details on each point.
Focus on making something amazing
The basic foundation of most successful businesses is to create something amazing. Once you have something amazing, it’s relatively easy to market it and find people interested. Marketing is an important step, but it’s made so much easier when you have an outstanding product or service. It’s no longer easy to build a business from products that are something similar but just cheaper.
The key message of this book is really to focus on making the best product or service possible. Once you have something incredible, marketing and other things can easily fall into place, and people will be interested in what you’re selling.
The emphasis should really be on developing what you want to sell first. Marketing is important, but that should all come after product development. You don’t want to spend all your money on marketing if you don’t have a strong product or service to sell. A quality product/service is the most important part.
Even for companies that have been around for a while, Seth discusses how part of your budget should be on improving your product. The better your product, the easier it will be to sell it.
When you develop a purple cow, aka an amazing product or service, then it makes everyone’s job easier when selling it. All supporting services (such as marketing, sales, etc.) will benefit from having an incredible product/service.
Market to the sneezers
Once you’ve got an amazing product/service, the first people you want to market it to are the “sneezers.” These are the people who want to try new things and share what they’ve tried with others.
I’m sure you’ve often heard that word of mouth is the best form of marketing, and that’s the goal with these sneezers.
Sneezers are unique because they are actively looking for new things to try. Whereas most people are comfortable with what they already know and are hesitant to try something they may not like.
Another key part of sneezers is that they like to share their discoveries with others. Having customer recommendations and testimonials is one of the most powerful forms of marketing, simply because they’re coming from an objective third party. They can say all the same things that your own marketing might say, but because they aren’t the one trying to sell it and don’t get any benefit from others buying it, it is so much more powerful coming from them.
However, it is vital that you have a good product or service so that the sneezers can help grow your company. If your product isn’t that great, then they won’t want to share it with others, or may even tell others not to buy it. That’s why the first step is to develop an amazing product or service, something so good that the sneezers want to share it.
Then once you target the sneezers as your initial audience, then your audience will grow naturally.
This point is closely linked to the first one (focus on making something amazing), while including the idea that you don’t need to compromise. There’s no benefit to compromising on your vision, especially not to make some people happy or to appease complainers.
By not compromising, you ensure that you will stand out.
This can open you up to criticism and parody, but it also tends to attract more attention and boost sales. It’s okay if not everyone likes you. You don’t need everyone to be successful, you just need a group of people that really want your product. Generally, you don’t need a huge market or audience to make a living. Rather you need a small group of people who really like your products or services, and want to keep supporting you.
Don’t try to please everyone. When you end up compromising, you often make the product/service more bland to accommodate everyone’s tastes. But then you may lose those that are truly excited about your vision. Compromising can also dilute your product/service, making it less amazing (aka less of a purple cow) and thus harder to market and sell.
Ideally, you want to make a strong impression, stay true to your vision, and be comfortable focusing on those that like what you do. The stronger your vision, the more you’ll stand out, which will likely result in more enthusiastic customers.
This book was a good reminder to focus on your product or service, and that developing quality products/services should be your main focus. The rest will fall in place.
It also was a good reminder that marketing is easier when you have something amazing to sell.
The ideas in the book didn’t seem revolutionary, in the end it seems fairly intuitive and makes a lot of sense. It’s definitely a change from the business model of just outcompete your competitor by cutting costs, which is so unsustainable in this global economy. The focus on quality seems much more effective and sustainable over the long term.
I also know that it can be so easy to get caught up in all the ways you can grow your business (social media, marketing, email campaigns, advertisements, etc.) without first focusing on what you’re selling. This book felt like it was really taking you back to the basics. Reminding you to get back to what’s important (what you’re selling), and then you can deal with the rest.