My first year here at Umass I was lucky enough to find an internship program that accepted freshman. This program was called College Works Painting. The premise of the program was that you learn how to manage different aspects of running your own business by starting a house painting business that spring and summer. Each intern was in control of doing their own marketing, sales, and production management. As a newcomer to the Isenberg i was hungry for any experience i could get so once i was accepted into this program i started reading some business books looking for ideas that could give me a leg up on my competition. During this time i stumbled upon a book called “The Purple Cow” by Seth Godin (anyone interested in marketing should definitely read this book).
In this book, the author tells a story about a time when he was driving on a long trip through the country with his family. After a few hours of driving, he ended up passing a cow. This cow was really interesting to him and unique because it was the only one he had seen on his drive through mostly empty fields. Then as he drives further the cows became more common until all of the fields were filled with cows. Now the cows didn’t seem interesting at all to him since there were thousands that were basically the same thing. Then all of the sudden in the middle of all these normal cows, there is one purple cow. He yelled to his parents to look at the purple cow because it was so interesting and different from all of the others. The point he is trying to make in this story is that unless you have something to make you different from all of your competitors, no one will notice you and you wont attract any business.
In February i had my first official training for my new internship. One of the main things they taught us was how to create a PPOD, or personal perspective of difference. I was surprised to hear this since it was all about creating the same uniqueness that i had just read about in the Purple Cow. Our speaker then went on to tell us a story about an intern from a few years ago known as “the magic painter”. This kid named Jeff was struggling in the program because he just could make sales. Then one day when he was at a consultation with a potential client he says, “if i show you the best magic trick you have ever seen, will you sign with us?” the client says yes and he goes on to show him an amazing card trick that actually got the customer to say yes. The next day he got a call from that clients neighbor asking to get a quote from “the magic painter guy”. at this point Jeff realized he found his PPOD (purple cow). Jeff went on to be the top intern in New England and he was known as the magic painter in his community ever since.
I hope everyone can take something away from this story and The Purple Cow if they choose to read it. I certainly did, and will always keep that idea in mind anytime there is something that needs to be marketed or sold.