I Have Now Seen a Purple Cow in Action!

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I bet by the time you read this post, you’ve seen and heard the amazing story of Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice. And just in case you missed the news, watch this viral video here:

When I saw this, my immediate reaction was, “Now that’s what Seth Godin calls a Purple Cow!” Truly, the man has a remarkable product (his golden voice) and he found a remarkable way to market it. He made sure it was noticed, and how! I mean, the guy hit the top news stories, including CNN and USA Today, is flooded with job offers from top radio and TV stations, he’s already been hired by premier sports league Cleveland Cavaliers, may soon have a house from Quicken Loans and last I heard, the NFL wants to use his services too.

24 hours ago, the man was homeless and stood with a sign on a freeway exit ramp in Cleveland, Ohio. The difference, and that’s what made him the purple cow, was that he wasn’t just begging for money like so many other homeless people do. He wanted people to hear his voice and give him a job as a radio broadcaster. Look where that got him!

Okay, so the news channels will give you the latest on what’s happening with Ted Williams and his 92 year-old mother’s reaction to see that her son has indeed bounced back. You can even see cleaned up photos of him here: www.wnci.com.

The reason I’m writing about this inspiring story on my blog is because there is much to learn and imbibe here for all of us.

Lesson #1: Focus – on the one thing you really want. That’s what Ted did. Go to where your target market is and work towards your goal with single-minded determination. The results can surprise you, and others!

Lesson #2: Stand Out – become a Purple Cow if you will. Be confident that you have a great product and find ways to market it so that you stand out from the competition. Get the attention of your target audience. Or better still knock their socks off!

Lesson #3: Communicate and be found — so many folks just drove past Ted without stopping because they couldn’t read his sign. After he was discovered, the radio station sent out feelers to people to find him! Being a homeless man, it wasn’t an easy search.

Just like in business; you may have the best product but if your message is not easily visible and clear, people will pass you by (and probably find your competitor instead). In the online world, being found easily is critical. Simple things, like making the phone number easily visible on every page of their website is something so many business owners tend to overlook. It’s buried somewhere below the fold or relegated to the Contact Us page. And then they lament that they are not getting enough phone inquiries!

Lesson #4: Say WHY you do what you do -– people want to hear a good story. Ted Williams was clean for over 2.5 years after his life spiralled down into drugs and alcohol. He wanted people to give him a second chance. That was the reason WHY he was on the streets with that sign in his hand, not begging for money, but pleading a chance to live life again. I wrote in an earlier post about the WHY Factor and communicating what we believe. I’m reiterating here that people may or may not take notice of what you do but if you can convince them of why you do things, they will be more open to everything else you want to say.

Lesson #5: Plan ahead — or ensure you have controlled growth and be prepared to execute quickly IF your message goes viral in a BIG way. Ted Williams now has tons of offers coming in from all over the world. If he is smart, he will hire someone to help him sift through all the offers and create a strategic career plan for him.

In the Internet marketing world, we see this happen all the time. A company does some viral marketing and faces a sudden deluge of traffic which they are not prepared to handle. It is essential to be able to sift through, respond appropriately and identify which prospects and customers you need to nurture. This can be quite overwhelming, so being prepared is the best approach.

At WSI, we have a formula that helps us predict if an idea will go viral. WSI powered by Yovia defines Social Velocity as the 4 C’s: Content, Connections, Community and Conversion.

The Ted Williams story is a viral video with good content and a message that connects with people. A community of people have embraced this message and shared it around the world. What was the conversion goal? Well, the curious reporter from The Columbus Dispatch just wanted the panhandler’s voice to be HEARD by the right people. He definitely succeeded.

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