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Think you’re special? Then be a purple cow!

If you want a great example of an author who practices what he preaches, look no further than Seth Godin. In his book, The Purple Cow, which I found intriguing and engrossing, he argues that in order for one’s product to stand out, it needs to be perceived as being something special. In other words, it needs to be portrayed as an eye-popping purple cow in a field of brown, black and white cows.

So what did Godin do? He marketed the first, self-published edition of The Purple Cow—which eventually became a best seller—by packaging it in a milk carton and selling it for just shipping and handling charges. His point is that in this digital era, ordinary advertising isn’t nearly as effective as it used to be. Now more than ever, unconventional thinking is essential.

Godin also makes the point that if the product itself isn’t remarkable, not even the best promotion will help. This is where The Purple Cow really hits home for us in the public healthcare system. At every step, we have to be sure that the care and services that we provide are exceptional. And once that’s done, we have to keep looking for new ways to become the “purple cow” of innovation, ingenuity and responsiveness to people’s needs.

As for promotion, it matters, too, even if we don’t really have a product to sell. What we are promoting, when things go right, is our good name, our credibility and, ultimately, the reasons why healthcare users can feel confident in trusting us. That’s not boasting; it’s a statement of fact. And it’s worth becoming a purple cow to be sure that everyone knows it.


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