Wednesday, April 22, 2009

digital connections : timeless marketing classics

Graeme Harrison has asked a few people to recommend their choice of the most important or influencial marketing related books for a series of posts at his blog digital connections.
Here's what i wrote...

Seth Godin: Purple Cow

I first encountered Seth Godin’s ‘Purple Cow’ around 2004, I think it had been out for a year or so. At the time I was working as Creative Director with an online gaming firm, I had a gut feeling that we were approaching both the design the marketing of our product from the wrong angle.

I was under pressure to conform the look and feel of our games to look similar to the other casinos and gaming sites and the press ads, online ads etc were just not delivering the traffic.

I knew we had to do something but was not sure what.

I was pointed to ‘Purple Cow’ by the manager of one of the local branches of a well know book retailer. He was a convert and had used the principles of Purple Cow to turn around the fortunes of his store the previous year. He had been voted store manager of the year at the company’s conference and also went on to receive industry wide recognition at the national book awards as bookseller of the year.

I’ll have some of that, I thought.

In a nutshell, Seth describes ‘Purple Cow’ as:

‘a manifesto for marketers who want to make a difference at their company by helping create products and services that are worth marketing in the first place. It is a plea for originality, for passion, guts, and daring. ..Today, the one sure way to fail is to be boring. Your one chance for success is to be remarkable."

Some say that Seth Godin can be too simplistic (the advertising plannersphere may look down it’s nose at him) I prefer to call him accessible.

Anyone can pick up this book and get something out of it., and it gives you a framework for judging the worth of an idea - simply ask yourself ‘why is this idea totally remarkable? Why would anyone bother to tell anyone else about it? Where is the ‘purple cow’ in this idea?

I’d like to be able to finish off the story by saying I used the cow to transform the gaming company from also-rans to world beaters. No such luck.

But reading this book was the first step for me in realising that it was not enough to just make pretty pictures, I had to get interested in the ‘reasons why’. I also realised that this was not going to happen in the job I was in so I quickly left (see another essential Seth title ‘The Dip’).

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