Content Marketing

The Purple Cow Principle: How to Stand Out as a Marketing Manager

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If you’re unfamiliar with it, Purple Cow is a book by Seth Godin. He’s an American author and entrepreneur. The book is a challenge to companies to “transform [their] business by being remarkable” with their products and strategies.

Luckily, the same approach can be applied to individual careers. Here’s how you can translate the Purple Cow principle into a standout marketing manager performance.

What is a “purple cow” actually?

It’s an attention grabber and a bit of a joke. The “purple cow” is a jab at the “big Ps of marketing.” Traditionally, a marketer would choose any preferred four, five, or seven out of the following:

  • Product
  • Promotion
  • Positioning
  • Pricing
  • Packaging
  • Permission
  • Pass-along
  • Purpose
  • Process
  • People

Those chosen Ps would then serve as a marketing strategy checklist. The right selection and combination of these factors would more-or-less guarantee success. Godin, however, asserts that this isn’t enough anymore.

He claims that modern marketing is ineffective because it’s repetitive and oversaturated, and the key to achieving success is “a new P” – the Purple Cow, something that completely stands out. So, while it is perfectly fine to keep these time-tested and true strategies, you should also dare to act from a whole new viewpoint.

Make your own brand of remarkable

Now that we have the metaphor cleared up, let’s take a look at the actual steps. In our case, the product being marketed will be the marketing manager themselves. To bring a personal purple boost into your career, you’re going to need to do things you’ve never thought of doing before.

Hyperfocus on one niche. We’re only partially joking when we recommend that you make it obscure. Identify an area of the business that’s notably underserved, something nobody does, and then target it like a laser. Absolutely dominate.

You likely already have a website, but you may consider building another one for this purpose. Pick a unique personal domain name that directly says “I choose to appeal to this very specific audience.” New customers and clients will be overjoyed that they found someone who has what they want, right there in the URL.

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Ruthlessly sift through your customer base. Take the usual market segmentation and amplify it through the roof. Choose one group that has the most reach and influence over other consumers, old and new. Choose another that brings you the most profit. Pour all your resources into these two groups at the expense of all others.

Advertise to them and design your ads for them. Develop your products with them in mind. Entice them with loyalty discounts, freebies, or special offers. Figure out what kind of customer you would love to sell to if you could choose. Identify the group which comes the closest to that and make a point of catering to them. Let everyone else come in second.

Address the tip of the iceberg. Sort your customers by how much they interact with your pages and what reactions they leave to your content. Collect direct contact information (like emails) of the top 20-ish %. If you already have, think of something exclusive that you can offer to that subgroup only. Reward them.

Think on the smallest possible scale. There is the overwhelming trend that a process or service needs to appeal to a universal audience, or at least a hefty majority. Turn that convention onto its head.

Choose one market, like real estate, and target the smallest subset you can, like real estate-centric social media companies. Come up with a value that’s custom-designed for their needs and wants. Overwhelm the stage with your remarkably well-thought-out product and use that as a starting point for niche-by-niche expansion.

Do things because “why not?” Whenever you think of doing something, but don’t follow through, stop and ask yourself why not. In most cases, the decision comes from a feeling of inertia or a fear of failure.

Are those risks real? If there is no tangible, quality reason to not do something, then just go for it. Why not? That simple change of mindset can offer you fresh perspectives and solutions. Something that you normally wouldn’t consider may end up being your next winning strategy.

Push the limits of your effect. It’s fine to aim to be the best, but what form can that take? Are you the best at getting breaking news on industry insights? So you’re the quickest, the most perceptive? The most inquisitive?

Can you be the most efficient, the noisiest, the most original, the toughest negotiator, the cheapest service provider, the most beloved helper, the outcast of the industry circles? The coldest strategist? The most anything-at-all? Good or bad, test your limits.

Godin claims that being boring is the surest way to fail today. In order to succeed, you need to have a truly remarkable product or service to offer, and also a remarkable approach to marketing. Thus, the Purple Cow principle can be summarized as “be bold.” Step away from the tried and tested marketing methods. Adopt a “purple” perspective, and your business will stand out as a result.

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