Q&A: Where is the free prize inside?

"Where do Purple Cows come from?"

Continuing in our series, Bob at Arnold Architectural Strategies asked a question that was similar to many: What's the free prize, why don't you talk about it more and how do I use it?

In Free Prize Inside, my sequel to Purple Cow, I point out: As marketers, our instinct is to believe that we have to make a product or service that flies faster, jumps higher, costs less, works infinitely better and is generally off the charts at doing what the product is supposed to do. We get our minds around one performance metric and decide that the one and only way we can be remarkable is to knock that metric out of the park. So, hammers have to hammer harder, speakers have to speak louder and cars have to accelerate faster.

Nonsense. This is a distraction from the reality of how humanity chooses, when they have a choice.

We almost never buy the item we buy because it excels at a certain announced metric. Almost no one drives the fastest car or chooses the most efficient credit card. No, we buy a story.

The story is the thing that the product also does. It's the other reason we buy something, and usually, the real reason. Simple example:

You have a seven-year old daughter. The last time she unexpectedly woke up after going to bed was three years ago. Of course, you're going to hire a babysitter and not leave her alone, but really, what are you hiring when you hire a babysitter? Is it her ability to do CPR, cook gourmet food or teach your little one French? Not if she shows up after the kid goes to bed.

No, you're hiring peace of mind. You're hiring the way it makes you feel to know that just in case, someone talented is standing by.

If her goal is to be a great babysitter, then, good performance doesn't involve honing her CPR skills or standing at the door, listening to your daughter breathe. Good performance is showing up a few minutes early, dressed appropriately, with an air of confidence. Good performance is sending a text every 90 minutes, if requested, to the neurotic parents. Good performance is leaving the kitchen cleaner than she found it.

It sounds obvious, but it's rarely done. It's frightening to build and stand for 'other' when everyone else is making slightly-above-average.

The free prize is the other metric, the thing we want to talk about, the job we hire your product to do when we hire a product like yours. That's what we tell a story about.

       
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