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Why did JetBlue’s CEO ask the head of marketing to be involved in product design from the very

start? As Seth Godin tells it in his classic book Purple Cow, a business must be remarkable to be successful. And, in a post-TV world, the only way to be remarkable is with product innovation. (JetBlue, I understand, did quite alright.) Writes Godin,

"Marketing in a post-TV world is no longer about making a product attractive or pretty or funny after it’s designed or built--it's about designing the thing to be virus-worthy in the first place."

Marketing and Product Design ... At the Same Table

Purple Cow was originally published in 2002. That was a good two years before I’d ever heard of Facebook; four years before I claimed I’d never use Twitter; five years before I coveted my neighbor's iPhone. If buyers had too many choices and too little attention in Godin’s “post-TV” world, then the ante is exponentially higher in today’s reality, where the socially-networked, hyper-informed buyer truly calls the shots. Marketers cannot afford to limit themselves to being advertisers and promoters. You must think about—and take charge of—how you can differentiate your brand through service excellence, customer experience, and product design.

It’s not easy, but—as Godin might say—it’s all we’ve got. The good news is that, unlike JetBlue’s head of marketing, today’s marketing execs don’t need to wait for an invitation to the discussions about product design. After all, your marketing team has the easiest access to the most in-depth customer insight. The same social intelligence and data-driven mindset that are helping you steer your marketing campaigns to success can be applied to product design. Show the product team your social media analytics on trends, brand sentiment, and product likes/dislikes—and you’re off to the races.

Today’s marketing execs don’t need to wait for an invitation to the discussions about product design.

The Socially Empowered Marketer?

When we talk about today’s socially empowered buyer, we must remember that those same social networks are available to marketers. If (and really when), you are involved in helping your business design a new or better product or service, there are a host of critical questions that social media analytics can help you answer. From Hypatia Research Group’s “Customer Centricity” guide, here are just a few of those questions:

  • What does the customer want in regards to our company’s product/service?
  • Are we able to position the product/service in a superior manner to the competition?
  • Have we included pricey features that the customer will not actually use?

Imagine supplementing your customer advisory board with social media-driven “voice of the customer” initiatives. Imagine using peer-to-peer networks, public forums, blogs, or private communities to conduct prototype tests. There is no doubt that social media offers a marketers a pragmatic, scalable means of listening to customers, gathering intelligence, and predicting future consumer wants and needs.

The Innovation Imperative

When Hypatia surveyed over 500 executives on their top priorities for social intelligence, the majority cited “capture of customer information, such as product likes, design suggestions, or feedback for product development or merchandising.” Clearly, today’s executives are still motivated to follow Godin’s imperative to “stop advertising and start innovating.” Just as clearly, marketing intelligence gleaned through social media offers great promise for any marketer that wants to help create the next purple cow.


Amy Moore, a content marketer at SAP, writes about how marketing, sales, and customer service professionals can use storytelling techniques to better engage their customers. As a vegetarian, Amy prefers not to think about whether Purple Cows can be marketed to the masses. Like to talk about writing and brand storytelling?  Say hi to Amy on Twitter.