Why it’s important to focus on developing the best product

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.

Photo by Kai Winckler | Accessed on Unsplash.com

Main impacts

Here are the key points that really stood out to me:

  1. Focus on making something amazing
  2. Market to the sneezers
  3. 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.

Don’t compromise

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.

Final thoughts

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.


How marketing can help you build meaningful customer relationships

Are you wondering how to market your business and connect with your customers? As I was reading This is Marketing by Seth Godin, he discusses how marketing is just another way to connect with people and solve their problems. This book is filled with useful information and is an accessible way to learn more about marketing. It seems like a book that you would be able to re-read and each time have different key takeaways or find new interesting information. Continue reading to find out what points of the book stood out to me.

Photo by Tom Barrett | Accessed on Unsplash.com

Main Impacts

These are the three points that stood out the most to me:

  1. Find your niche
  2. Get comfortable saying “this isn’t for you”
  3. Connect your product to a desire

Find your niche

I know this is a common phrase, but this was hugely emphasized in the book, you need to find your niche.

Interestingly, your niche should be as small as possible. Don’t be afraid to exclude people, or to only appeal to a select group of people. You want to find “people like us”, the individuals who are actually interested in what you’re doing.

You want to make your niche as small as possible, while still profitable.

Most importantly, it doesn’t take that many people to have a profitable business, especially if you have followers that actually want to interact with your content. I’ve heard people mention that you only really need around 1,000 dedicated followers to make a reasonable living. The key aspect is that you’re providing value for those interested in your work, so that they want to buy what you’re producing.

In this way, quality over quantity of followers is vital. Having 1,000 people who actually want to buy your products is far more valuable than having 10,000 people who barely notice your content. Those that actively engage with your content and look forward to what you produce will want to support your work, and it becomes a mutually beneficial relationship.

You want to find people who resonate with you and your work. Focus on a niche, find your people, and build a community.

Get comfortable saying “this isn’t for you”

You want to target the right people for your business, it won’t be everybody, and that’s okay. When you get comfortable saying “this isn’t for you”, it will help you focus on building meaningful relationships with the right people.

This goes hand-in-hand with the point above of finding your niche. It’s just as important to understand who your content is NOT for. It’s okay to say “this isn’t for you”, people appreciate that you’re not lying to them or trying to sell them something they don’t need. Being honest about who your work will benefit and what they will get from it, builds trust with anyone who interacts with you.

As mentioned above, you do want to cultivate a dedicated following, which is not everybody. If you stop catering to people outside your niche, you’re able to focus on the ones that really want to be there, which is better for everyone.

I found this really powerful, because part of us feels like we want to just have everyone following and supporting our work. We hear so much about finding your niche, but the idea of getting comfortable turning people away is very different than targeting certain individuals. It reframes the concept from a passive lack of focus on other people, to an active rejection of those that won’t benefit or find value in your work.

I think it’s a powerful way to understand your audience and be content with a smaller but more dedicated following.

Connect your product to a desire

We often hear how it’s best to ensure your product or service is solving someone’s problem, and that makes sense. If you are able to solve someone’s problem (ensuing they acknowledge it is a problem) then it’s easier to sell it to them, as you’re showing the value and purpose of what you’re selling.

But I found this took it a step further, it’s not just about solving a problem, but connecting that problem to an innate desire. If you can show how your product or service not only solves a surface level problem, but also connects to an internal personal desire, then the product or service becomes even more appealing.

Internal personal desires can be things like social status, personal improvement, or something moral/ethical, like helping to save the earth by being environmentally friendly. By connecting your product to both the surface level problem (such as dirty dishes) and a moral desire to save the world from chemicals (environmentally friendly), you make a deeper connection with the customer. It may make your ideal customer more specific (narrower focus), but as mentioned above, that’s usually a good thing.

Generally, the more emotional you can make it, the easier it is to sell. The emotional appeal builds a strong connection and makes your product or service stand out. They look to solve their physical problems, but buy products or services based off of their emotions or personal philosophy.

Final thoughts

I found this book surprisingly hopeful and inspiring. Marketing doesn’t need to be complicated and you don’t want to please everyone. In a way, parts of this book felt counter-intuitive, such actively cultivating a very small audience and being willing to turn people away. You think you need to appeal to as many people as possible, but that’s not how you’ll be successful. When you try to please everyone, you tend to dilute what you create to make it more palatable for everyone, rather than tailoring it to those who would truly appreciate it.

I found this a useful reframe of what it really means to build a successful business. A successful business is targeted at a specific audience to suit their needs. It does not appeal to everybody and that’s okay.

Have you read this book? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!