I recently read The Purple Cow by Seth Godin and found myself dreaming up all sorts of business ideas and product improvements based on the purple cow concept:
“Something remarkable is worth talking about. Worth noticing. Exceptional. New. Interesting. It’s a Purple Cow. Boring stuff is invisible. It’s a brown cow.”
Is your value proposition the most at anything?
Does it speak to a specific, unique customer and their specific, unique needs?
The examples Godin offers up in the book clarify the idea of the purple cow better than any explanation I could pen, but I highly recommend the book itself, which is a quick and powerful read; one that will get your creative juices flowing:
Otis Elevator Company
How do you set yourself apart from all the other elevator companies? Elevators are expensive and take up an inordinate amount of space. We’ve all been frustrated waiting in the lobby as the little numbers light up on every single floor before it comes down to retrieve you.
Otis Elevator removed this limitation by simply installing a central control panel, referred to as “destination dispatch”, where the guest enters their floor rather than a rudimentary up or down button. They are then guided to a specific elevator which will take them directly to their destination. In fact, in the 7 World Trade Center building, employees must only flash their badge – the system knows the floor they need.
With this relatively inexpensive innovation, buildings can be taller and serve a greater number of people as elevator travel efficiency is increased by up to 30%.
The Phoenix Hotel
Chip Conley runs a dozen or so hotels in San Francisco. The Phoenix is located in one of the worst neighborhoods downtown and has just a few dozen rooms. Instead of attempting to attract typical guests with low rates, Chip painted the rooms funky colors, placed hip magazines in the rooms, commissioned edgy art for the inside of the pool, and invited rock and roll artists to stay.
How could you differentiate something “worthless” or boring into a unique experience or opportunity?
The Aeron Chair
Desk chairs used to be pretty dull. Since the purchasing agent or department was in charge of making this buying decision and ultimately would not sit in the chair, they sought out safe and easy choices. After all, the budget was of primary focus.
Then Herman Miller launched a $750 chair in 1994. Besides different looks and functions, the idea of spending so much on a single chair represented an enormous risk. However, they got it right by targeting a different decision maker. Owning an Aeron chair said a lot about who you were. Buying Aeron chairs for your company sent a message about your company. They were easy to talk about – spreading the marketing message effortlessly on behalf of Herman Miller.
Millions of Aeron chairs have been sold since and it’s actually in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
Have you tasted a golden kiwi or it’s edible peel? Latino foodies have.
New Zealand-based Zespri is the only company that knows how to grow the golden Kiwi. However, instead of investing millions in mass marketing, they targeted a niche that already enjoys mangoes and papayas, fruits similar to the Zespri gold kiwi – the aforementioned Latino foodies through product placement and tasting at upscale Latino markets.
Without any advertising, Zespri sold $100 Million of golden kiwis to an audience that loves to talk about them.