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Manual as marketing tool

I just got a Polar USA heartrate watch. This thing is supposed to let me track my heart as I exercise. It’s clearly a remarkable product in that it changes the way you think about something you do for half an hour a day. But, alas, it’s having a lot of trouble getting out of a small subset of the world of people who actually exercise. Why?

Well, maybe this quotation from the astonishingly poor manual gives you a clue, “While using an exercise set, you can see all the same information as in the BasicUse mode.” Or how about, “Exe. Time->RecoHR/Reco Time->Tot. Time->Limits1->InZone/Above/Below 1…” (all punctuation is recorded as written).

I’m ashamed that I can’t understand how to use this product. So ashamed, I won’t mention it to my friends, nor will I evangelize it to others.

What could Polar do? How about a totally obvious quick start mode that turns off 90% of the features and just makes it work!

The power of a hit

One thing I didn’t write about that much in my latest book is the phenomenon that allows a new product to cross the chasm and reach the vast majority that are so busy ignoring you.

It’s the hit effect.

When all the early adopters at radio stations start playing a Norah Jones song, it becomes a hit. Billboard magazine charts it. It spreads. First to radio stations that only play what’s on the list, then to consumers who only buy what’s on the list.

When all the early adopters in silicon valley start carrying a Blackberry pager, it becomes a hit. They feature it at Fry’s. It spreads. First to the friends of the geeks, then to people who buy what nerds buy.

The middle of the market wants to be safe. They want to buy what others are buying, read what others are reading. And scorekeepers–like bestseller lists and cash register displays–are the barometer they use to determine whether a new idea is safe yet.

Tivo’s challenge, for example, is that Tivo is essentially a private device. There’s no obvious list it could be on. No retailer it can dominate. As a result, it takes far longer for it to jump over to the middle of the market.

One lesson here is to try to create products that have obvious lists. The second is to figure out how to work with early adopters in a focused, coordinated way to get on that list.


This is probably my last post in a while about Purple Cow (the book), since it’s no longer new–it’s a day old. But I wanted to say thank you to all the terrific people who have been sending in the great email and (yay) buying the book. #52 and climbing!

The takeaway for marketers here is simple: Purple Cow didn’t hit #52 in 24 hours because of what’s in the book (though it won’t work if the product is lousy). It succeeded because I’ve been building an asset for several years. People who get anticipated, personal and relevant notes from me a few times a year. They (you) wanted to hear about my new book, and took action when they did.

Business is never static

In my new eBook 99 Cows, I talk about Pallotta TeamWorks. Though their site is still active, it turns out the company is not. Charity events organizer closes doors . Sorry about any confusion! Also, please note that in Purple Cow I talk about a hit song in Europe about Ketchup. Well, it’s not ABOUT Ketchup, it’s by a group called Ketchup, which named themselves after the father of one of the singers, nicknamed, of course, Tomato. The song, like most pop songs, is apparently about not much.

Also, if you’re looking for Replacements, Ltd., which is mentioned in the new 99 Cows eBook, you can find it here.

Free First Week Bonus

This is my new eBook. It’s 120 pages long, with a link on every page and plenty of examples of Purple Cows. It sells for $10 on Amazon, beginning Friday. It’s the reason my blog’s been a little thin lately.

The eBook has been showing up on various blogs. You can find it here.

Thanks for reading.

Can Cows Blush?

Authors can. Thanks so much to Jack Covert for this great review of Purple Cow. He’s now selling it with a money-back guarantee if you don’t like it.

Countdown and update

In six days, Purple Cow comes out in hardcover. It’s been a whirl of activity here at Cow headquarters–the book has been hovering in the 500s on the bestseller list, and we haven’t even shipped yet.

The nominations for the 99 Cows eBook (which also comes out in six days) are now officially closed. The submissions were terrific. Thanks. I’ll notify everyone who submitted next week about the status of the book.

The seminar in my office (also in six days [yikes]) is sold out. It promises to be a lot of fun. I’ll post the date for the next one after I have a nervous breakdown.

See below for info about getting a free book from BzzAgent or hearing me online.

It works. It’s fun. It’s yellow (and black).

The talented people at BzzAgent are working hard to bzz the new Purple Cow book. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a secret organization that creates organized word of mouth with an army of volunteers.

If you click on the BzzAgent: Purple Cow Campaign and they accept you, you get a free copy of the hardcover book, a very cool packet of stuff (it blew me away) and a chance to earn unique awards.

They’ve got thousands of agents around the country, and at my request, BzzAgent is holding 100 more slots for Purple Cow fans to join them. Not much time, though.