In The Purple Cow, business guru Set Godin outlined how to transform your business by being remarkable. The basic idea is simple: when you drive through the country, the first few cows you spot are interesting, but after awhile, the cows become boring. What would stand out is a purple cow. That would be remarkable.
In today’s world of abundant products, almost everything is analogous to a cow. In pottery, bowls are cows. Every potter makes a bowl. To stand out, to be remarkable, you need to make a bowl that appeals to a small niche group. It won’t appeal to everyone, which is okay. It needs to appeal to a group that has an ‘otaku’ for something. As Godin uses the word, ‘otaku’ means more fervor than fandom and just slightly less than obsession. If this group likes your product, they will spread the word about it for you.
I’ve made these flower bowls for 10 years. This year, I redesigned them slightly, to appeal to food stylists. As you can see in the photo above, my bowls make amazing graphic shapes when shot from above, and the colors showcase food perfectly. Food stylists have an otaku for bowls.
My plates and dinnerware are now being used by a few stylists on the verge of publishing. That will get my work published and distributed without any effort of my own. When foodies see my plates in well curated cookbooks, they will want those plates. This happened on its own accord, but Godin’s book made me aware of why it happened. I am now looking to have my flower bowls follow this same path.
Using Godin’s strategy makes marketing much easier for me. I’ve always been into doing something a little off the mainstream path anyway. And I’ve long been mindful of shaping pottery that visually enhances food. The last piece to fall into place for was was finding a group with an otaku for what I do.
Can you think of a niche group that has an otaku for something you make? If not, can you think of a niche group that has an otaku for something you COULD make?
by: Lee Wolfe