What’s Your Purple Cow?

Seth Godin's Purple CowThe concept of the Purple Cow was introduced by Seth Godin in his groundbreaking book by the same title.  Recently I read it again because it is full of ideas and case studies on how to make your business remarkable.

When you drive by a heard of cattle they all look like cows and it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.  But if you drive by a heard and standing in the field is a Purple Cow you have to tell someone because it is so different.  When something forces you to remark on it, by definition it is remarkable.  This is what your new business strategy should be focusing on, finding ways to make your customers talk about your products to their friends.

So the obvious question is, what is a Purple Cow?

Sanpellegrino is different than regular juice.  Well, it’s not really different.  It’s sparkling juice in a can but the secret lies in the can itself.  Every can of Sanpellegrino has a foil lid you must peal off before drinking.  As if your juice is so special that it needs to be covered by an additional seal.  Also, you can’t find this juice at gas stations or any old grocer, I’ve only been able to find it a Costco.

It’s different, it makes the juice seem extra special.  It creates an experience for the consumer.

It’s a purple cow. Read more

The Architecture of Lineups

I hate lineups.  For anything really. I’m impatient and I usually want things as fast as they can humanly be delivered to my hands.  I’m pretty sure no one likes lineups so it is a perplexing issue to me that as humans (lineup haters) we don’t do everything in our power to minimize, shrink, or do what every we can to demolish these horrible things that eat up our time.

I don’t believe it is the general public’s or customers fault that there are lineups, it all has to do with the choice of architecture of the lineup.  These companies and organizations that under estimated their own traffic and how long wait times would be now must look to alternate methods of satisfying the demand at a minimal cost.

There is some research being conducted around lineups and how to minimize wait times but this research is mostly for grocery stores and Wal-Mart.  I think the research paid off, the “Express Line” at Safeway, the “12 items or less line” at Superstore and the newly adopted number system at Wal-Mart where they herd everyone into a line and a lovely women over the loud speaker tells you which till to go to once you reach the front of the herd.  All in an attempt to save their customer’s time.

It is very easy to find the organizations that don’t believe in “line reduction research”.  Craven Country Jamboree, Tim Horton’s, and my bank TD Canada Trust.

If I was to conduct my own research within these organizations here is what I would try.

Craven: Offer an express lane for vehicles only, no trailers.  As well, have line marshals that insure the line is constantly moving.  If it begins to bottleneck somewhere the line marshals must keep the vehicles moving.  Seems like a not bad solution to a problem that 25,000 people complain about every year.

Tim Horton’s: Offer an express lane to people who just want coffee.  Tim Horton’s could charge a quarter more in the “caffeine line”, I’d pay more for my coffee if I could have it right now.  Have a thermos?  How about an automatic coffee dispensary for all those who don’t mind serving themselves.

TD Canada Trust:  Again, offer an express lane to people who have no questions, that know exactly what they need to do and won’t take any longer than a minute.  The line gets bottlenecked when those REALLY friendly people come in and need to strike up a conversation about anything but their bank account.  TD knows that they can not compromise customer service so just have two lines, one for questions/conversations and one for banking.

Treating your customers better is a proven strategy to increase customer loyalty.  Caring about your customers time is obviously an undiscovered facet of customer service.  As our world keeps progressing and we get more busy, our time increases in value.  Finding an innovative way to tell your customers you care about their time could have a lasting effect on how they perceive your brand.

What do you think?

Photo Credit: Those funny pictures . com