Riffs on a Purple Cow: An Ethical Marketers Response to Seth Godin

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The simple but hard to follow rule is this: Only borrow money to buy things that go up in value. You can justify borrowing money to buy a car if the car enables you to make enough money to pay the debt back… But medallion cab owners in New York have recently learned that there are few sure things. The deal with credit card debt, though is simply terrible. The Times got this completely wrong yesterday, pushing people deeper into a trap that they should run away from. And the Washington Post points out that the number of people getting a loan for their wedding is skyrocketing.

This is a problem. The sad news is that the best you can do within an industrial system that makes it harder and harder to catch up through effort is to begin by avoiding debt. It turns out that paying interest on interest is a long-term trap.

The real win is to borrow money to embrace high-yield education, and then borrow money if you need it to build an asset, a business that creates value for you and the people you serve. Eyes that belong to humans, to critics, to people hoping for the best. Mostly, to people who expect you to keep your promises. What do you do when you face an alien looking vegetable?

The economic cost is tiny. How will I deal with my ignorance of what to do with it? The kohlrabi metaphor runs deep. You have unread updates 0. Search Search for:.

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Connect News and updates Social Media. More Seth Books, videos, and speaking oh my! Free content About Seth Godin. Learn Which workshop? Welcome back. Copyright The Longaberger Company. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrightable materials.

While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third- party Web sites or their content.

Be remarkable! Be consistent! Be authentic!

Tell your story to people who are inclined to believe it. Marketing is powerful. Use it wisely. Live the lie.

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Let me say that a different way: Many things that are true are true because you believe them. The ideas here work because they are simple tools to understand what human beings do when they encounter you and your organization. Once we move beyond the simple satisfaction of needs, we move into the complex satisfaction of wants.

Which makes marketing the fascinating exercise it is. This sort of storytelling used to work pretty well.

Monday, November 10, 2008

There are small businesses that are so focused on what they do that they forget to take the time to describe the story of why they do it. And on and on. The irony is that I did a lousy job of telling a story about this book. The original jacket seemed to be about lying and seemed to imply that my readers marketers were bad people. A story was already told. I had failed. So, go tell a story. All marketers are storytellers. Only the losers are liars. Make no mistake. This is not about tactics or spin or little things that might matter.

This is a whole new way of doing business. We noticed things. We noticed that the sun rose every morning and we invented a story about Helios and his chariot. People got sick and we made up stories about humors and bloodletting and we sent them to the barber to get well. Stories make it easier to understand the world. Stories are the only way we know to spread an idea.

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Everyone is a liar. We tell stories about products, services, friends, job seekers, the New York Yankees and sometimes even the weather. We tell stories to our spouses, our friends, our bosses, our employees and our customers. Most of all, we tell stories to ourselves. Marketers are a special kind of liar. Marketers tell the stories, and consumers believe them.

Some marketers do it well. Others are pretty bad at it. Sometimes the stories help people get more done, enjoy life more and even live longer. The reason all successful marketers tell stories is that consumers insist on it. His company makes wine glasses and scotch glasses, whiskey glasses, espresso glasses and even water glasses. He and his staff fervently believe that there is a perfect and different shape for every beverage.

I did. Robert Parker, Jr.


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I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make. Tests done in Europe and the United States have shown that wine experts have no trouble discovering just how much better wine tastes in the correct glass. This makes sense, of course. Taste is subjective. If you think the pancakes at the IHOP taste better, then they do. Because you want them to. He sells glasses to intelligent, well-off wine lovers who then proceed to enjoy their wine more than they did before. Marketing, apparently, makes wine taste better. Marketing, in the form of an expensive glass and the story that goes with it, has more impact on the taste of wine than oak casks or fancy corks or the rain in June.

Georg Riedel makes your wine taste better by telling you a story. Arthur sells real estate in my little town north of New York City. Anyone can tell you the specs of a house or talk to you about the taxes. Instead, Arthur does something very different. He takes you and your spouse for a drive. He tells you who lives in that house and what they do and how they found the house and the name of their dog and what their kids are up to and how much they paid.

Then, and only then, does Arthur show you a house. Bonnie Siegler and Emily Obermann tell stories too. And they claim their success is accidental. Their Web site is exactly one page long and some people think it has a typo on it. Nobody buys pure design from Number They buy the way the process makes them feel. So what do real estate, graphic design and wine glasses have in common? Not a lot. Not price point or frequency of purchase or advertising channels or even consumer sales.

The only thing they have in common is that no one buys facts. They buy a story.