Saturday, November 22, 2008

Are you as remarkable as a Purple Cow?

"Cows, after you've seen one or two or ten, are boring.

A purple cow, now that would be remarkable and remembered. Is your business a purple cow, or just another brown cow in the field?"

-- Seth Godin, "The Purple Cow"

Don't miss my inaugural post (below) in this series on Remarkable Service. It began with the "flow of service" from the customer's perspective, and I highlighted a remarkable experience I had at a rental car company(!) that I am still talking about five years later.

After reading this simple story, I welcome all comments about what you discover as you contemplate your organizational business flow, from the moment a customer walks into your business until they leave. Where do service inconsistencies appear?

This is important because, whatever your industry is, I bet you are not the only ones who do what you do. Each business day, just like you, your competition is hoping to capture a larger portion of market share. They can thrive on any of your missed opportunities.

Today I ask; how unique are you? To everyone, but especially to my colleagues in the real estate industry... are you as memorable as a purple cow standing in an otherwise ordinary field of Washington dairy cows?

If, as a child, you actually saw a purple cow, I bet that today you would still be talking about that remarkable experience. As a business, you want to embed that striking thought of a purple cow in the mind of every customer.

Fields of cows. A vivid image for many of us who grew up in and around Spokane. I can remember those seemingly endless family vacation car trips. My brother and sister and I were entertained by plenty of cows as we rolled by in the family station wagon. But cows, after you've seen one or two or ten, are boring.

In the book by author Seth Godin, entitled "The Purple Cow, Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable," the author challenges you to make your choice. "Is your business as remarkable as a purple cow or just another brown cow in the field?"

Whether you are a real estate professional or financial planner, an insurance agent or attorney, a health care provider, or specifically to every retailer with a cash register, how do you differentiate yourself from your industry colleagues?

To fully answer that question, don't merely examine what your direct competition is doing. Instead, go beyond the obvious. The Purple Cow is a thin little book that will give you new ways to create a distinct and memorable brand. After you finish this quick read, you will find yourself reviewing business profiles in the news in a whole new way. By checking out today's hottest companies across a wide range of disciplines, you can gather a cross-pollination of ideas that may never hit the radar of your competitors.

This is my business roundtable challenge to all readers this week. Discuss today's leaders in completely unrelated industries:

Like Nike, are you a "Just Do It" company?

Like Krispy Creme, do you brand yourself as "sumptuous luxury in a fat-free world?"

Like Nordstrom, how would you personalize and deliver remarkable service every time?

Like the Donald Trump organization, what would it take for billionaires to bring their business to you?

Learn from any and all leaders, even global ones. Discuss their brand of excellence, and find ways to apply what you learn. Thinking from a roundtable of different perspectives can produce powerful results.

Service, across all sectors, shares the same goal: Don't we all just want to be remarkable and remembered in the minds of new and ongoing clients, each and every day?

For my local readers, it's time to do your part in creating Spokane's "New Era of Remarkable Service." Become a Purple Cow. Are you in?

Janet Bartman is the Communications Director for a large professional membership organization in Spokane. She welcomes your comments.

Next post: The Language of Remarkable Service

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