Purple Cow Takeaways – Part 2

In Part 1, we noted a few major takeaways from the first half of Godin’s book, Purple Cow.  We’re going to pick up where we left off with a few more takeaways and look for some application to the church today.

How could you modify your product or service so that you’d show up on the next episode of Saturday Night Live or in a spoof of your industry’s trade journal (p. 71)?

In the paragraph just about this takeaway, Godin writes that most organizations are “so afraid of offending or appearing ridiculous that they steer far away from any path that might lead them to this result. They make boring products because they don’t want to be interesting” (p.71). Godin’s point is simple – if you do something risky, it may work and it may not. If it doesn’t, you are going to get mocked. But isn’t that better than to never try anything risky? Because, as crazy as an idea is, it just might work and make you noteworthy – make you a purple cow.

Smart businesses target markets where they’s already otaku [more or less, otaku means obsession]. Go to a science fiction convention. These are pretty odd folks. Do you appeal to an audience as wacky and wonderful as this one? How could you create one?

This is a fascinating concept.  It certainly worked for Apple. They have a group of customers that would follow Steve Jobs off a cliff if there was a new product at the bottom to be found (BTW, I’m not excluding myself from this). What does this look like in the church? What is the group that would be this “obsessed” with your church that they would tell everyone about it?

Where does your product end and marketing hype begin? … Can you redefine what you sell in a similar way (p. 82)?

Great question!  In the church, the answer is not just to come up with a new advertising campaign. The product is part of the marketing. How do we redefine the church to engage the community?

Do you have a slogan or positioning statement or remarkable boast that’s actually true? is it consistent? Is it worth passing on (p. 88)?

Does our advertising match reality? It’s easy to come up with catch phrases and witty word play. But does the message we are sending actually reflect who we are as a church?

Make a list of all the remarkable products in your industry. Who made them? How did they happen? Model the behavior (not mimic the product) and you’re more than halfway to making your own [purple cow] (p. 98).

Again, this is excellent. When a church does something well, the temptation is just to try and do the same thing without going through the brainstorming process they went through to come up with the idea in the first place. 

A big part of the challenge for the church is how to balance preserving theology while changing methodology. I’ve ever read that you can’t change your methodology without compromising your theology. Yet the task of each generation is to apply the same faith to an ever-changing world.

Interact: What risky thing could the church do that would make it remarkable without compromising its theology?

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Steve. This looks like a very intriguing endeavor that you’re on. When I saw the “Interact” question, I couldn’t resist commenting. First, a disclaimer, I was just a little leary of applying corporate marketing strategies to church. (I have corporate marketing experience and actually successfully used Seth’s Permission Marketing concept to launch an internet marketing campaign in the 90’s to increase brand loyalty.) While I don’t think it is biblical to focus only on a specific demographic, if we find that we are missing or losing a demographic (like college-aged and the matures!), then targeting ‘products’ or ‘messages’ specifically for them probably does make sense.

    That being said, lessons from the marketing and adverstising world probably can be very instructive (IMO) (have you seen this?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7_dZTrjw9I)

    Okay, so .. about your question.
    What risky thing could the church do that would make it remarkable without compromising its theology?
    I actually think there are a lot of things we could do to be remarkable. Here are just a few ideas that I’ve had:

    1. Have Sunday School somewhere other than in our own four walls. Wouldn’t it be cool to have Sunday School at Borders or Starbucks? Or at a Main Street hotspot on a Saturday? But don’t call it Sunday School! This could be like the Investigate thing that Damon is doing.

    2. Keep the church open 24/7. Have someone “on duty” just like the 7/11 who can pray, call the Deacons, help people find resources, etc, etc.. In other words, instead of keeping bankers’ hours, have ER hours.

    3. Hold choir practice at the ball park before/during/or after the church league games at DelCastle or Banning Park, or where ever they are. It would be like giving a free concert in the park to everyone – for God. Or just give a free concert every once in a while at one of the public parks. Our music team is too gifted to be kept to ourselves!

    4. Actually hold House Church on the beach. It was so cool to hang out at the beach with everyone from house church last summer. This summer, we should bring a guitar and some bibles, pray and hold house church right there.
    And if you really want to get risky, instead of hanging out on the safe, family-friendly Lewes side, take to the other side where the rainbow crowd hangs out – or down to hang-over land on Dewey beach!

    I’ve got lots more, but that’s probably way, way enough already 🙂

  2. First of all Deb, that video was awesome. Thanks for sharing. If you know Seth’s permission marketing concept, I would like to hear more about it. He discusses it briefly in Purple Cow, but I would like to hear more.

    As for the Sunday School somewhere else, that’s a cool idea. I actually mentioned something like that to Damon. And yes, the first thing that would have to go is the “Sunday School” moniker – I’m trying to get rid of it not only outside of the church, but inside the church as well!

  3. Hi Steve. Well, as I remember it, our VP of Advertising and Marketing got really jazzed about the concept of Permission Marketing from an article Seth first wrote for Fast Company – a year or two before he wrote the book. That was several years before Seth actually wrote the book.

    Anyway, the concept is basically a direct marketing strategy that revolves around having people “opt-in” to a mutually beneficial, two-way communcation with your company or organization – usually by offering some sort of “freebie” as an initial inticement. The freebie can range from content to special web access to sending them an actual gift. Obviously, the better the freebie, the more people who will raise their hands. This is pretty standard operating procedure today on just about any website.

    In addition to making it a standard, the other magic that Seth helped carve out, I think, is in cultivating these messages into a long-term relationship. Some of the things that stand out to me: permission expires. Once someone grants permission, you only have a limited time to provide value and reinforce the incentive that you are providing. Savy marketers work hand in hand with the product people to build permission and trust – ultimately leading to commitment.

    It is a gold-mine when people grant permission, but most companies fail in the execution and follow-thru by either being too pushy and markety or by just not doing anything meaningful for them.

    hope that helps.

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