The Purple Cow

What’s different about your business? What makes you standout? What makes people remember your company? Is it an unusual name? Is it an unusual truck paint scheme? Is it the way your employees dress?

What if your tagline was “The HVAC Surgeons” and all of your service techs wore scrubs? What is it that makes your company unique or remarkable? If you are just like every other service company out there, what keeps people from driving right by without even noticing you?

In his book Purple Cow, Seth Godin relates a story of a family trip through France. When the kids saw their first cows they were excited. They were excited to see the second group of cows too, but after they passed field after field of cows, and seen thousands of cows, they began to ignore them. Seth said they could have been perfectly good cows, beautifully lit and picturesque, but after a while they were just boring. However, a purple cow would have been interesting to see. What’s your purple cow? What makes your business, product, service, remarkable? How can you be different from your favorite competitors? What do you need to do to get the recognition that you want? How can you turn that into profitable business?

There are a lot of “P’s” in marketing, Price, Product, Place, Promotion, Publicity, Positioning, etc., but what does that really mean? The simple message is marketing is complex, and what worked 10 or 20 years ago doesn’t necessarily work today. Have you noticed that sure-fire methods that you have been using successfully for years just don’t bring the same results as they used to bring? We have to find better ways to reach consumers in order to grow our businesses successfully.

Forty or fifty years ago, all you had to do was create a commercial and people would flock to you. Back then, choices were limited and people were hungry to buy products and services. Now the market is much more crowded and it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd. You must figure out your uniqueness and promote that. To paraphrase Seth Godin, today you need to create remarkable companies, products, and services that the right people seek out. Today you can’t just build a better mousetrap; you have to build a remarkable mousetrap, something that’s exciting and different.

Modern advertising fails because most companies try targeting everybody. Remember that not everybody is a customer for your service or products. When you classify your customers in terms of profitability, who are your most profitable customers? Using your purple cow idea, target that specific type of customer to achieve better results with your ad, commercial, or promotion and to increase profitability.

Look at your successful competition, the ones not attempting to be all things to all customers, and study what they do. Do they appear to be performing better than you are? If you could find one currently underserved niche in your market to target and dominate, what would that be for your company?

Take a risk and try your purple cow idea. If you believe in your idea, take the risk and make it work. When I was brand manager at York, we had two purple cow ideas. The first was when we introduced the color panels for the condensing units. We used some of those buzz-creating techniques that we have talked about recently, when we launched our “people like color” campaign, we played off the secrecy button to create a buzz. We drove people crazy including our own sales people. The second idea was the college logo panels. Nobody had ever done anything like it in the industry and it received a lot of attention and helped us sell product.

The challenge is to come up with a purple cow idea for your business and then put that idea into action. See how far you can go if you accurately market your idea. You’ll be surprised what you can do if you bring your people together and start throwing out ideas. You might find the next million-dollar idea.

My website contains links to all the articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you want your marketing efforts pay big dividends, contact a marketing professional. I’m available to assist you in all of your marketing efforts. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, or help with lead generation, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, PR, social media, and lead generation strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and startup companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by showing them how to do more with less($). Contact him at 260-338-4554, [email protected] or visit the website

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