chapter 17

Sell a Unique Product

Standing out from the crowd is one of the best ways to move merchandise. Especially if you’re in a crowded space where your competitors sell similar, if not the exact same products.

Sell Purple Cows

Seth Godin, a famous contemporary marketer, wrote a book called Purple Cow. The basic premise of the book is that you do something so unique and different that people will naturally have to tell others about it.

Let’s say you sell something that gets a lot of attention and people start purchasing it. For instance, we can go back to our example of the neon yellow tennis ball textured sneakers. 

As people start buying these shoes – their peers will naturally ask:

“Where did you get those?”

And of course, they will refer them to your online store. It will be a word of mouth referral from a third party that is not affiliated with your business – the best form of marketing there is.

Some Purple Cow Product Examples

If you’ve ever spent time lounging around a beach, you know that the perfect complement for relaxation is a nice cold beverage. A company called Reef, makes this genius sandals with a bottle opener in the sole. 

When these sandals came out, every college frat boy in North America mentioned these flip-flops at the first party of the year.

Think Geek is an online retailer that specializes in Purple Cow merchandise. Their entire brand is dedicated to the niche market of “Geekdom” – so you might not “get it” when you see some of their products. But that’s actually perfect because they are only trying to target a very specific group of people. For instance, you might not understand why you would want a “Useless Box Kit” – a box that when you turn it on, it closes and it turns itself off. 

A ridiculous product like this happens to be one of their best sellers. Go figure. Naturally the words “Think Geek” will get muttered when anyone sees this box and that good old word of mouth magic will happen once again.

Now Purple Cow products don’t have to be gimmicky either. This shovel by Bosse Tools is a great example of a simple tool that has been reinvented and gets talked about a lot.

They re-created the shovel, with a rotating handle in the middle to make back breaking work much more ergonomic and easier.

What If You Don’t Make Your Own Products?

If you don’t make your own products –that’s okay. You’ll just have to source specialized items for resale. And there is a smart way to do this. Instead of buying specialized inventory outright and hope it sells, simply place these products on your site and allow visitors to pre-order or request more information about them. This will let you gauge how much demand there is for these products.

You can also start creating your own line of products. You might have some really good ideas for new products that are innovative and remarkable. Introducing new products like these can not only increase your profit margins but it will give your brand more social currency. With that you always want to be giving your fans and customers something to talk about, breaking out of the clutter, especially when you're first starting out is most of the battle. So if you can do that, that first sale won't be too big of a problem.

Next chapter

18. Interview an Industry Influencer

2 min

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