Imagine this: you’re in a big field, and you see a bunch of cows. What do they look like? Most likely, they’re all black and white, with a few brown ones here and there. But none of them are super interesting.
Now, picture something different: you spot a Purple Cow among the regular cows. You’d definitely pay attention because a Purple Cow is really unusual!
Here’s the lesson for businesses: If your products are like the regular black and white or brown cows, they won’t grab anyone’s attention. Instead, you need to create something really special.
Why advertising doesn’t work like before
Advertising isn’t as effective as it used to be because there’s just so much of it. Think about when you watch TV or read the news. In the past, there were only a few ads, so you paid attention to them. But now, there are ads everywhere, and it’s hard to focus on any one of them.
People are so busy that they often don’t even notice ads unless they’re looking for something specific. For example, you might not pay attention to car ads unless you’re in the market for a new car.
This means that traditional advertising on TV or in newspapers doesn’t work as well as it used to. Let’s say your company puts an ad on TV. Lots of people will see it, but only a small number of them actually want your product. And of those, only a few will really pay attention to your ad, and even fewer will buy your product.
Imagine you’re trying to sell a new pain relief medicine. The problem is, there are already so many pain relief options out there. So, you have to find people who need pain relief, then find those who aren’t happy with what’s available, and finally, find the ones who will listen to your ad and buy your product.
All of these challenges make it tough to reach the right customers and sell your products effectively. So, advertising isn’t as powerful as it used to be because there’s just too much of it, and people are too busy to pay attention to most of it.
Standing out in a crowded world
In today’s world, for your product or service to really catch people’s attention, it needs to be extraordinary. Let’s explore how advertising has changed over time.
In the old days, before formal advertising, people used to recommend products and services to each other through simple conversations. For instance, they might tell their friends about the best vegetable seller in town, drawing more customers to that seller’s stall.
There was a time when advertising seemed like magic – the more you advertised, the more you sold. Companies could invest in ads to boost their sales and profits, creating a cycle of advertising leading to more advertising.
Nowadays, we’ve returned to a more word-of-mouth style of promotion, but with a modern twist. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook allow information about great products and services to spread rapidly.
In this new era, where there’s a plethora of choices, just meeting customer needs isn’t enough. To really grab attention, your offering has to be exceptional. To stand out and be easily noticed, it needs to be something unique and eye-catching. This approach to marketing is known as remarkable marketing.
Why taking risks is safer than playing it safe today
In today’s world, taking calculated risks is often a smarter approach than avoiding risks altogether. You’ve probably come across many amazing products and services, showing that there are various ways to achieve success.
However, most companies hesitate to explore new ideas and stand out from the crowd because they fear trying something different. To thrive, you must conquer this fear because mundane products have no place in the modern market. In a crowded marketplace, blending in means you’ll go unnoticed.
Another common but ineffective business strategy is “follow the leader,” imitating what successful companies are doing. However, this won’t make you a leader yourself. Those leaders likely achieved their success by taking risks and creating something exceptional. If you simply copy them, you won’t be remarkable.
Businesses following this path tend to fail eventually because markets change, and they lack experience in trying new things. Consider the music industry, where record companies mimicked each other for a long time, creating nearly identical products with similar packaging. When technology transformed the industry, like with online music stores, these companies felt trapped because they weren’t prepared for change.
How to reach the right customers for your new product
Focus on the customers who are open to trying something new and sharing their experiences with others. So, once you have an outstanding product, how do you let everyone know about it?
To find the right approach, it’s crucial to recognize that there are five types of potential product users:
- Innovators: These folks love trying out new things and staying ahead of the curve.
- Early Adopters: They’re interested in new products because they see the potential advantages.
- Early and Late Majorities: These are practical consumers who wait for a product to prove itself and gain popularity.
- Laggards: They resist change and only switch to something new when they absolutely must.
Conventional marketing wisdom suggests targeting the early and late majorities since they make up the largest portion of customers. However, this can be a mistake because they tend to be hesitant about adopting new products before they’re widely accepted.
Instead, your focus should be on the early adopters. They’re more likely to discover new products and, importantly, they can generate excitement and interest in your product among others.
In essence, your goal is to make your product appealing to early adopters and facilitate their word-of-mouth promotion, harnessing their enthusiasm to attract a broader audience.
How marketing shapes products and brands
Marketing isn’t just about promoting products after they’re made; it’s about creating them with marketing in mind right from the beginning. Think of marketing as the process of inventing a product. This means considering how the product looks, how it’s made, its price, and how it will be sold, all with the goal of making people excited to talk about it.
For example, the CEO of JetBlue Airlines involved the Head of Marketing in designing the airline’s product and training employees right from the start. Marketing is also about finding something special about your product that sets it apart from the competition. To do this, you need to experiment with different aspects like pricing and promotion.
The core of marketing is the product itself, so it’s essential to have a simple and catchy message, like a slogan, to convey what makes your product unique. Take the Leaning Tower of Pisa, for instance. It’s famous because its main message is straightforward: it’s a tower that leans. This simplicity draws in visitors.
On the other hand, the Pantheon in Rome, while beautiful, doesn’t have such a clear message and doesn’t attract as many visitors.
Getting your message to the right people
Reach the people who need your solution and evaluate how well your marketing efforts are performing. Most ads today don’t work because they either don’t interest the viewers or target the wrong audience, missing those who are open to new products.
So, what makes successful ads, and how can you know if yours are effective? The secret lies in precise targeting. Unlike in the past, where marketers could choose their audience, now, due to the flood of advertising, it’s the customers who decide what to pay attention to.
Your ads should focus on individuals actively seeking a solution, specifically your solution, to their problems. Achieve this by placing your ads where these potential customers are already looking. For instance, Google Ads is effective because people search for solutions through keywords, and the ads offer answers.
No matter how you advertise, you must measure your marketing’s effectiveness. This is how you learn what works and what doesn’t, allowing you to optimize your strategies.
Always remember, improvement requires measurement. When evaluating an action’s effectiveness, consider the cost of measurement too.
Why companies fear standing out
Many companies are scared of becoming remarkable because they fear the negative consequences that come with it. Let’s explore what these fears are:
First, they’re afraid of criticism. When you stand out from the crowd by doing something exceptional, you’ll inevitably attract criticism. Criticism, however, doesn’t equal failure. In fact, if you don’t receive any criticism, it’s a sign that you’re playing it too safe, which can lead to failure.
Second, many companies are afraid of looking foolish or offending people if they are too bold. Being different can invite mockery, but even this ridicule can make your product more famous. However, deliberately trying to be offensive or outrageous is risky and can backfire, leading to negative publicity.
Lastly, one major fear for large companies is the need for extensive changes to their existing infrastructure, such as factories, to create remarkable products. When you identify what will make you remarkable, it often requires significant transformations.
In summary, many companies avoid being remarkable due to fears of criticism, looking ridiculous, and the need for substantial internal changes. Overcoming these fears can lead to innovation and success.
In today’s competitive world, being just “average” won’t cut it. It’s a make-or-break situation, where you have to be extraordinary to thrive. To achieve that, you must embrace risks courageously and not be bothered by naysayers. And when it’s time to share your exceptional offering, focus on reaching out to those who are open to trying new things and enthusiastic about sharing their experiences with others. So, remember, in this bustling landscape, it’s all about being remarkable or fading away.
Inspired by a book “Purple Cow”; Seth Godin”