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How to turn your marketing into a purple cow

4 August 23

Seth Godin introduced the idea of transforming your business by being remarkable in his book "Purple Cow". It starts with an analogy.

Imagine you are driving, and you pass a field full of cows. At first, you barely even notice the cows as you've seen so many before. You certainly don't notice a particular cow in the herd because seeing cows, for most of us at least, is a regular occurrence.

Then imagine that you see a purple cow. All of a sudden, this cow has captured your attention. It stands out from the rest of the herd. You turn to the passenger to comment on how remarkable this purple cow is. Its uniqueness stops you in your tracks.

The average marketing experience is like a field of ordinary black and brown cows. There's no compulsion to pull over and take a closer look. It doesn't cause you to make any remarks, because you've seen it all before. Every once in a while, we experience something out of the ordinary that briefly grabs our attention, but this moment is often fleeting. The purple cow is all about doing things differently. 

If you don't have a purple cow, you just blend in with the rest of the herd and become udderly generic. What you need is a purple cow to make your marketing remark-a-bull (sorry not sorry).

Here are three principles to help your B2B marketing so you can stand out from the herd and create your own purple cow...‍

Being safe is risky

One of the principles of creating a purple is cow is that being safe is risky. It's getting harder to be noticed in a world full of digital clutter. Using the same tactics as the competition makes utting through the noise is difficult. If we continue to play things safe, our buyers will continue to ignore us. The safer your marketing is, the riskier it becomes.

When you take bold, calculated risks, you are being a lot safer than you think. By not doing what everyone else is doing, you become more desirable. Buyers want your product or services more and support your alternative view of the world.

If you're concerned about taking things too far, start by copying what other industries do. B2B marketers envy how creative B2C companies can be. Think about being a marketer at Apple. Take some leaves from their book and think more B2C. Alternatively, you can find an industry that's duller than yours, discover who’s remarkable (it won’t take long), and do what they did. 3M sell boring products but do this superbly.

Find things that are “just not done” in your industry, and do them.

Find the sneezers

According to Seth Godin, sneezers are people who are more likely to tell their friends about a great new idea. These people are the heart of the idea virus – an idea that spreads fast. When they see a great idea, they tell everyone about it.

Find the group that’s most profitable. Cater to the customers you’d choose if you could choose your customers. They're most likely the ones delivering the highest value. Delight them, engage them or surprise them. That’s how sneezers are born.

In account-based marketing (ABM), most companies aim for advocacy from their customers. Sneezers are advocates that do your job for you by marketing your product themselves.

We all have ideal customers and should know their profiles well. So don't try to please everyone. Account-based experiences (ABX) is becoming a new trend in B2B marketing as we move to a more targeted approach. Focus on the customers that will spread the good word by wowing them with your one-of-a-kind approach. 

Don't compromise

They say a camel is a horse designed by a committee. You can’t compromise to make something remarkable. Even if you come up with an idea that's really good, push yourselves to make it remarkable.

As Godin says, something that's very good is hardly worth mentioning. It doesn't go far enough to be shared or commented on. Very good is the opposite of remarkable. Do you want your B2B marketing to be very good or remarkable?

If you're trying to do something remarkable, you have to go above and beyond. One of the challenges in marketing is pleasing everyone internally when it comes to creating new initiatives. Everyone has an opinion. As the old saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth.

As a marketer, sometimes you need to go with your creative gut (cows have four btw) and understand that you aren't there to please everyone in your organization. Equally, don’t try and please everyone in your target audience. You might have several purple cows for different personas and segments.

When it comes to creating your purple cow, you have to ensure it isn't just very good. You need to ensure it's unique and is bold. B2B marketers long for true sales and marketing alignment. The only issue is if we ask sales teams for their thoughts, they will give us their thoughts based on instinct. This can affect the campaigns we launch if we listen too much. Combine data and cross-functional teams with aligned goals (I recommend revenue goals) and you'll find calculated risks eat compromise for breakfast. If you end up with a camel, at least make sure it's purple.

Time to grab the bull by the horns?

If you feel your B2B marketing programs need a boost, don't aim for something very good. Take calculated risks so you can stand out from the herd and be remarkable. Your marketing is either a purple cow or it's not. You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice.

Be bold. Be unique. Be different.

Alex Olley Co-Founder & Chief Revenue Officer @ Reachdesk

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