So advertising isn’t working as well as it used to. The PR model is very different and, arguably, not worth pursuing, particularly as you want journalists and others to come to you. So what should we be doing as marketers?
Well one thing’s for sure; we shouldn’t waste our time putting lipstick on pigs.
This is how marketing has worked in the past; a product or service is developed and then handed over to the marketing department. A good marketing team could make even a relatively poor product or service sell well. In essence, it was their job to put the lippy on the pig to persuade customers that the product or service was a glamorous head-turner. The success of a product or service was determined by how good the ad campaign was. For example, if you were selling a pair of trainers, it didn’t matter so much if competitors were producing better ones if you could afford to buy more air time. Try to do that today and, whilst you may get some short lived success, it’s only a matter of time before you are found out; the search results start to fill up with bad reviews and photos of blisters and disintegrated soles with links to where to buy a decent pair of trainers. Putting lipstick on a pig is like pushing water uphill, and that is what marketers have traditionally been charged with doing. Well, that job is no longer available.
So, what should we be doing with our marketing budgets?
What you want to be doing instead is creating a Purple Cow.
If you’ve read Seth Godin’s book ‘Purple Cow - Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable’, you’ll know exactly what we're talking about. If you haven’t, please do - it is well worth it.
His concept is this: if you are driving down the motorway and you pass a field of cows, you’ll hardly notice them at all. Certainly when you get to the other end and your friends ask how the journey was, you wouldn’t regale them with a tale of the cows you saw. If, on the other hand, you’ve passed a field full of purple cows, you would likely comment on them and quite probably tell your friends, who might even tell others.
This is the metaphor for modern marketing. You need your offering to be remarkable and you need to stand out. Why? Because people will:
1. get to know you
2. recommend you/talk about you.
And if you do both of those, you're 95% of the way to being found in search, i.e. covering all the main ways people now make purchase decisions.
What Purple Cows do you know? We'd love to know your examples of Purple Cows, so please enter them in the comments box below.
In Edinburgh we have many Purple Cows; actually one of them is a panda which you’ve probably heard about. We also have a unique castle and the Royal Yacht - both Purple Cows. For locals, the National Museum of Scotland is a Purple cow. Attractions are probably the easiest Purple Cows to think of as the clue is in the name (attract-ion), but the same applies to products or services. Sticking with the home-grown theme, you’ve probably heard of Skyscanner, the Scottish flight search engine. It largely markets itself. Looking further afield, there's the iPhone and Google’s search engine and also many B2B examples like Salesforce and Evernote.
Now, it wouldn’t surprise us if you are sitting here thinking:
To be honest you are probably right. Very few of us can claim to be genuinely unique. Take Attacat for example. There are hundreds of digital agencies claiming to do what we do in the way we do it. Sure, we can tout our experience, focus on our service, our awards, our happy customers etc. To an outsider looking in, however, we are very difficult to differentiate from the competition. But here is the good news - it is possible to take an ordinary company and turn it into a Purple Cow. In fact, you are reading this as a result of our efforts to move Attacat towards being one.
Creating Purple Cows is the new role of marketing, and the rest of this module is about how to begin creating them. But, before we continue on this journey, here is a quick heads-up - Purple Cows are not just normal cows painted purple; they are purple from the inside out. And that’s why marketing teams can no longer work in isolation.
Designing Purple Cows needs the support of your entire business. There’s nothing new about marketers whinging that good products or services are easier to market. But this is different, it is something more. This is about engineering the entire experience you offer as a company. This is why marketing needs to embrace the whole company and be a boardroom-level activity. If marketing is seen as an add-on at your company, it’s not going to achieve the results you want.
Your aim in life is to add more value than your competitors do. As we think of it, as a marketer you are trying to create a hub of valuable experiences, or a 'value hub' for short. You need to be creating things that are either useful, entertaining, or perhaps a bit of both, and they need to be woven into the very fabric of your business.
Your next video in this chapter on remarkability looks at 'The need for ongoing relationships' and the importance of these in the promotion of your value.