Volume I Issue 4
March 31, 2005
“ Market Intelligence and Marketing Wisdom –A Book Review”
Market Intelligence includes everything you know about your market: customers, competitors, trends.
You name it.
Techniques range from statistical analysis to customer segmentation to benchmarking to market
The hardest thing about Market Intelligence is separating “need to know” from “nice to know.” The
other hardest thing about Market Intelligence is putting the Intelligence to work for you.
But what about Marketing Wisdom?
I’m here to tell you that the heart of Marketing Wisdom is separating “need to know” from “nice to
know” and putting the Intelligence to work for you.
Market research might tell a paper company that customers like a whiter, brighter sheet of paper, and
that they also like a sheet that is more opaque so the ink doesn’t show through. Research might even
help our paper company figure out which is more important to the majority of customers. And
benchmarking can tell them where they stand against the competition.
Our paper company might put all this Intelligence to work by increasing the brightness of its product to
differentiate it from the competition.
There’s only one problem: is the Wisdom there? Is this the right Intelligence? The “need to know”
In other words, if all the products are very good, and yours is just a little bit better, will this truly
differentiate the product?
Not if the customer doesn’t care, and not if the competition can easily follow.
I recently read a remarkable book: “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin. It carries the sub head: “Transform
Your Business by Being Remarkable”.
Godin begins by talking about the five P’s of Marketing. If you thought there were only four, you’re
right; chalk it up to inflation. Godin goes on to list 8 P’s (more inflation) and adds that there are even
more P’s, but the newest P is for Purple Cow.
He describes driving through the French countryside with his family and enjoying the cows grazing
near the highway. But after awhile, the cows were ordinary, and boring. But if there had been a Purple
Cow, that would have been remarkable.
Once Upon a Time there were Products, and then there was Advertising. If you had a good product,
and advertised it, you could be a huge success. But no more. There is so much noise that to be
successful today, you must be remarkable. Like a Purple Cow.
Sometimes, it’s a combination of things that makes you remarkable. For example, cows are generally
not remarkable, and purple-ness is generally not remarkable, but a Purple Cow? Remarkable!
Godin compiles 144 pages of Marketing Wisdom around this theme, giving countless examples of
“Purple Cows” from real-life marketing. JetBlue. Google. Starbucks. Target. There are many more
lesser-known but even more interesting examples.
He talks about differentiating your customers and spreading the word.
He talks about figuring out what you have that’s remarkable and targeting people who care and will
spread the word.
He talks about how dangerous it is to play safe. Big investments in factories make it dangerous and
expensive to change things too much, but playing it safe by limiting yourself to “tweaking” the product
is even more dangerous.
My son tells me the most dangerous thing in hockey is a three goal lead. You sit on the lead, play it
safe, and before you know it you’re in trouble. I tried to tell him that once the other team scores, you no
longer have a three goal lead, and you’re out of danger. He doesn’t buy it. To tell the truth, neither do I.
Dare to be truly differentiated, and differentiate your customers. Get the message out, and don’t play
As Seth Godin says, the opposite of “remarkable” is “very good.” If you’re very good, you’re in trouble.
I highly recommend this book. It’s a quick read, as fun as it is enlightening.
Do you need help with market research or benchmarking, or deciding what Market Intelligence you
need? Need help just figuring out if that’s a Purple Cow in your back yard? MarketIntell can help.
© 2005 MarketIntell. All rights reserved.
Market Intelligence Consulting
Be sure to watch for the next issue on April 15: “Mind your P’s and Q’s,
and don’t forget about R’s and S’s.”
Click here to view the previous issue: “CRM? What is it? Why do I need
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