I did a phone seminar with Soundview yesterday. Got plenty of questions at the end, and I promised to answer some of the extras on my blog. So here goes:

How can the “Purple Cow” be used in a service industry – ie: mortgage banking?

Its unclear that most mortgage brokers have tools available to them to differentiate their business. In other words, its not the remarkable opportunity it used to be.

I think you win once you can offer a package of remarkable elements that are parallel to the core of what you do, but add enough value that by themselves they become worth talking about

Frequent flyer miles, for example, have nothing to do with flying and everything to do with choosing an airline. That doesnt mean you should offer frequent flyer miles, it means you have a problem that needs a non linear sort of solution.

What suggestions do you have for a job candidate? How do you use your Purple Cow approach to market yourself to potential employers?

The first thing to remember is that you can’t be Purple at the last minute. You need to be Purple before you start looking for a job. That means doing a remarkable job at work (hence the amazing referrals you’ll get for internal jobs) and with clients (hence the unsolicited job offers). People who are remarkable in the way they deal with customers and clients and co-workers rarely find themselves unemployed for long.

The second thing is to fight the temptation to print 1,000 resumes and to submit yourself to the cattle call (no pun intended) that is the typical job search. Won’t work. You’ll get an average job if you do that. Instead, focus on the people with an otaku, the folks who are searching for a truly special hire. If you’re that person, it’ll happen. What usually occurs, though, is that average people are pretty desperate and try to persuade the hiring person that they are in fact, remarkable. They end up not getting the job because their references (yours are attached to your resume, right) belie their assertion.

So, it’s not an easy answer, but it’s this:
be remarkable
build a network of people who truly want to hear from you
you’ll find the job you seek.

Good luck!

What can large established brands do to make themselve remarkable?

There are plenty of brands like Hershey, American Express, Maxwell House
Coffee et al that are selling huge quantities of product and keeping lots
of factories busy and people employed. How can they further increase their

Chuck at Ogilvy

Well, the good news is that these big brands have the cash flow and the market power to get over the hump and create new cows to replace their fading ones (American Express, for example, might be a fine brand but most of it is hardly remarkable). If they want to grow, they must figure out how to invent something that’s on a different trajectory than their existing brand.

The problem is that the organizations rarely if ever have the guts to promote and reward people who will champion remarkability and permission marketing. That’s because both start with the (correct) assumption that they are not omnipotent. Most brands with power insist that they can control the conversation and that they can sell average stuff to average people. Maxwell House should have been Starbucks. Hershey should have been Scharffen Berger. American Express should have been PayPal.

So, if I were the agency of record, I’d push to do more than just make more ads for the same old stuff. Instead, I’d push to be involved in product development, not just advertising. Ad agencies know how to do this right if they’d only try.

I work for a technology publication who has lead/competed in the market for
the last few years based mostly on quality content as its competitive
advantage. Now that our market is becoming more saturated, it has become
more of a struggle to keep subscriptions on the incline. What is your
opinion regarding competing on quality now that more of our competitors are
doing the same? What steps can we take to making our quality product more

A great question! My answer is that we need to keep redefining quality. At the beginning, quality means remarkable. Over time, quality comes to mean boring, within boundaries, to spec.

I’d redefine quality at your organization to mean “new, fresh, Purple Cow stuff that clients and users want to talk about.” Rolling Stone (which is/was quality journalism by most measures) fell into this trap in a big way.

Our Corporation is a $110m Federal Systems Integrator who receives substantial coop funds. We are using radio as one of our key strategies. We get lots of buzz by placing ads in the 7-8am timeframe.

My question is, “with 30 second and many 10 second slots to support the 30 second slots, what radio spots do you think are remarkable? Why?”

I think the best use of radio is to create an audience of people who want to hear the full message. To touch millions in a socially acceptable way and get a bunch to raise their hands by emailing you or calling you to ask for more info. Hooked on Phonics (1 800 ABCDEFG) is a great example of this.

and the last one:

How do you find the sneezers? Do you think that offering people discounts will help you get at the sneezers?

Actually, I think the sneezers find you. They find you because you hang out where they hang out. If you’re launching a product that doesn’t have a natural hive of sneezers, that’s really hard, but generally you’re clever enough to find the right nexus. Starbucks didn’t open the first shops in rural South Dakota, even though storefronts are cheap there. Apple opens their stores using similar thinking. Software guys realize that a post to Slashdot is worth more than ten ads in Time magazine…