Elite Agent

Purplebricks and Purple Cows

Are you getting noticed? John Knight looks at the importance of standing out from the crowd to make sure your business is top of mind for the right reasons.

Almost anyone who has heard me talk at events over the years will know my favourite business book of all time is Purple Cow by Seth Godin. Yes, an accountant whose favourite book is marketing-related.

Although written way back in 2003, Seth Godin’s insights and theories remain relevant today. The basic theme of the book is be remarkable and be remembered, in the way that a purple cow would stand out in a field of brown cows.

In practical terms, if you have something about your business that makes you stand out from the crowd then you no longer need to spend your hard-earned cash on traditional marketing initiatives – your business has a high talkability factor, and talkability costs you nothing! Remarkably, Godin wrote this book before we had Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

And that is exactly what the new entrant to the Australian real estate market has been able to achieve. Whether you think Purplebricks deserves to be the poster child for disruption in the industry or not, they are being talked about.

It’s not like Purplebricks is the first brand threatening to disrupt the industry. There are many before them – Go Gecko, OpenAgent, Ratemyagent, Buymyplace; you can even go further back, to when RE/MAX entered the market with their high-commission split structure.

What Purplebricks is presenting to the market is something different – something that grabs attention, something that, like Seth Godin describes, is a purple cow.

How is this relevant to your business? It emphasises the absolute importance of having a clear value proposition and the need for it to be at the core of your business model, not just an afterthought that you come up with as part of your marketing plan. This is something Purplebricks appears to have done extremely well.

With clarity on your value proposition you can use this to drive the other critical decisions in your business. For example, with Purplebricks’ low-cost, fixed-fee structure they needed to invest in software and technology to be able to deliver on their brand promise. They also needed a flexible workforce and knew they simply could not afford bricks-and-mortar offices.

In and of itself, being a purple cow doesn’t guarantee you business success. You could launch a full service, no-commission agency, for example – the talkability factor would be huge, but the likelihood of your success would be low. Or would it? That probably depends on whether real estate sales is actually your core business or not.

Do you have a purple cow? Do you have a competitive advantage? Do you even know what you do that customers put value on and is it different to the rest of your competitors?

Knowing why people do business with you is one of the most important steps in business strategy. If you don’t know what it is, then now is the time for some soul-searching.

Start by putting yourself in the shoes of your customer and rating what part of your service you actually place value on. You can then consider how this compares to your competitors before testing it against your own internal motivations. You can download a copy of a worksheet to help at businessdepot.com.au/purplecows.

Side note: For what it’s worth, in my opinion, there is a place for Purplebricks in the marketplace. I don’t think they will replace those agencies whose value proposition is built on strong, trusted relationships with an individual agent or agency motivated to get sellers the best possible price for their property. There is room for everyone. But if you are currently competing on price then watch out, because Purplebricks has the business model behind it to make it extremely competitive.

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John Knight

John Knight is the Managing Director of businessDEPOT, a team of energetic accountants and advisors.