Seth Godin is a prolific entrepreneur, renowned author and enthusiastic teacher. He continues to be eager to share his experience, knowledge, and insight about the business world and its ever-changing landscape. To start off with, Godin is the founder of Squidoo and Yoyodyne, and he has authored not one, but 18 best-selling books. All of this, and more, has resulted in Godin being inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame (2013) as well as the Marketing Hall of Fame (2018).
Arguably, one of Godin’s most tantalising pieces of literature is titled, ‘Purple Cow’ (2003). The allure of the title itself is fairly undeniable to marketing buffs. The unconventional metaphor is followed by the sting: ‘Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable.’ The book inspires a departure from the traditional eight P’s of marketing (product, pricing, positioning, promotion, publicity, packaging, pass-along, and permission) and it rather chooses to embrace a new ‘P’ i.e. Purple Cow.
Godin’s ‘Purple Cow’ concept is simple; some critics find that the theory has been oversimplified. To stand out in the world, you need to create something truly remarkable. A brown, black or white cow just won’t do the trick, but a purple one might just. Should you find yourself embarking on a road trip down to the coast, you will notice that your peripheral vision is littered with cows. Initially, you will notice a majestic Nguni cow grazing and another, and another after that. Eventually, however, the cow will seize to attract your attention like it did before. A single purple Nguni cow is most definitely sure to re-stablish your interest in the breed. Every company wants to own the market and stand out from the herd; NetFlorist is no different. Godin believes he has some insight to help marketers achieve just this.
20 years ago, Ryan Bacher, Lawrence Brick and Jonathan Hackner found their purple cow. In 1999, NetFlorist was ahead of its time and e-commerce was basically unheard of. The project was purely experimental but after just one day, it became clear that the project had potential to become something much larger. The company continues to expand quite rapidly.
This book is an ode for anyone that wishes to create an ingenious company worth marketing. Godin suggests that it may be time to stop advertising and start innovating. Conceptualisation of strategy and the implementation of said strategy is the core of marketing. Although NetFlorist chooses to use an external creative agency for specific campaigns, the e-commerce company ultimately chooses to keep everything in-house. Simply put, marketing can be seen as purposeful advertising. Under the direction of the Marketing Manager (Thalissa Pillay), the marketing team is able to achieve just that, purposeful advertising. Abandoning advertising entirely, however, is a concept that many marketers could find mildly terrifying.
As a marketer, you can’t just grab the audience’s attention, the aim is to keep it. In order to achieve this, you need to be relevant and useful. Some believe that the more useful than your competitors you become, the more remarkable you become. Ask the creative geniuses behind Apple and Starbucks and they will be sure to tell you. So, the million dollar question is: How do you become increasingly useful?
You start by getting to know your audience. Familiarise yourself with the demographics of your intended audience. Assess their behaviour, or more importantly, their purchasing behaviour. The point in familiarising yourself with all of this information is so that you can proceed to differentiate your audience. Define your communities. There is guaranteed longevity in doing so. Essentially, there are two key groups of consumers – profitable buyers and influential/ opinion-leading buyers.
Once you’ve analysed your potential customers, you need to turn your eyes to the market. What are the gaps in the market? What do people want and what can you, in particular, do to fill that gaping hole? Do not make the mistake of underrating a niche market. A degree of success lies in not trying to sell everything to everybody. One can no longer, nor should they be marketing directly to the masses. Naturally, the aim is to market a good or service that appeals to everyone, but you cannot boil the ocean in one go.
NetFlorist is a prime example of a company that has a niche appeal. The e-commerce company targets customers that require sameday flower or gift delivery. Such a company depends on everyday occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries, for example. Although much revenue comes from impulse purchases, the general occasions previously mentioned are essentially the bread and butter. NetFlorist is perhaps the only company of its nature that continues to grow exponentially as time goes by. Fast-forward 20 years and it becomes evident that it chooses to embrace niche services. Over the past few years, NetFlorist’s offering has expanded to encompass personalised gifts. If you have products that appeal to a niche market, your advertising should be tailored to your offering.
Without a doubt, convenience is king. Convenience and cost largely influences customer support. Many pieces of literature, on the topic of retail, associate convenience with consumer behaviour. There is a growing demand for convenience essentially brought on by socioeconomic change, technological progression, and growing competition. Consumers are too busy to notice advertising, but they are increasingly on the search for goods or services that can make their lives even a little bit easier.
E-commerce companies, such as NetFlorist, offers exactly this. A customer can log onto their NetFlorist profile in comfort, place an order, and arrange for the gift to be delivered directly to the recipient’s doorstep. Over and above sameday delivery, their services are available nationwide. ‘Convenience’ and a niche offering is perhaps the key to NetFlorist’s success.
Dedicate time to analysing the post-consumption consumer. It is much cheaper to keep an old customer than it is to get a new customer. Customers can effectively be divided into three classes: prospect customers, loyal customers, and former customers. Lead generation campaigns are particularly targeted at prospective customers. A loyalty program is a great marketing initiative that rewards customers for their continued loyalty. Tripwire campaigns come in handy when you are attempting to win back former customers. These are just some marketing techniques off the bat. The examples, however, make it clear that marketing strategies need to be tailored to your customers.
At the end of the day, the attribute that makes NetFlorist truly unique lies in their pay-off line. Towards the latter part of 2018, NetFlorist announced a new pay-off line synonymous with the brand, ‘Just be nice’. The company is choosing to appeal to the part of their customers that are perhaps solely responsible for their success. Not only will they be appealing to the ‘nice’ in their customers, they will be leading by example. If that’s not purposeful advertising, then what is?