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Customers Don’t Book Appointments When Your Value Proposition is Boring

14 May 2019 | Norm McConkey



What’s your purple cow? Seth Godin made this concept famous in his book of the same name. In simple terms, if you’re driving down a road and all you’ve seen are black and white cows, or brown cows (Holsteins and Herefords for you city folk) for miles, and all of a sudden you see a purple cow, you gotta stop. It’s a %^&*ing purple cow! Does your sales team have a purple cow?



When it comes to talking about office printing in general, the purple pigment is gone. In the 1980s when you walked into an office and showed them a copier, it was a purple cow. When you replaced it five years later with a color copier, once again, it was a purple cow (and it actually was!). When you showed them that files on their computers could be sent to the printer, it was amazing—another purple cow.

After the three major innovations in office printing: the copier, the color copier and the networked multifunction, office printing became less amazing. What happened next?


The industry told customers, and itself, that because the business model they favored meant devices often broke down and constantly needed toner, and we could solve this problem with a managed print program, they once again had a purple cow: MPS. In reality, it’s funny that an industry built on complicated delivery billing models and unreliable equipment, “solved” the problem by embedding the complication into a newer—even more complicated—model.


MPS is not a revolutionary of a concept, but it has worked well for some companies. Many have been selling this purple-ish cow for a decade now. So, it's no longer unique. Neither are office printers, or color office printers, or networked printers.


Your sales team today is selling incremental marginal improvement: I can make your print experience better than today.


If that sounds boring, IT IS! Think of your own experiences; incremental improvements are not usually priorities. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…” Purple cows lose their color fast when everyone makes the same pitch. When someone tells you that by connecting with customers on LinkedIn, being genuine, and “liking” their posts will get you more business, ask yourself: will that make me purple? When you change billing from transactional to CPP, to seat-based billing, does that make you more purple? Securing appointments is getting more and more difficult without a meaningful change in your value proposition.


Here are some ways to bring purple back into your business.

  1. Help companies finance IT assets like laptops, computers, monitors, and software the same way you have helped them finance print equipment for decades. Cash flow is THE issue for small businesses today–and you have a way to make that easier.

  2. Combine your existing PrintFleet and FM Audit monitoring with e-commerce so customers can intelligently buy ink and toner for their fleet. Buying supplies is as easy as buying toilet paper!

  3. Tell customers that you no longer repair older single function printers; instead, you replace them with new color multifunction A4s, because, “Hey, it’s 2019!”


    Keep in mind that technology is ever-changing, and clinging to an old model for too long is a recipe for losing your value proposition, your purple. Call us to see how we can add some color to your business. I will leave you with this gem from Gary Larson. OK so they aren’t cows, but you get the picture.











    About the Author

    Norm McConkey

    Norm McConkey has been involved in the print, imaging, and software/tech business since 1993. Holding executive level positions in a number of emerging technology firms, he founded PrintFleet in 2003, and Tangent MTW in 2009. A founding member of the MPSA, an award winning author and presenter, Norm has spoken at various industry events around the world including the Lyra Imaging Symposium, Photizo confernece, ITEX Tradeshow, Regional BTA conferences, Remax Europe, and World Expo. He has been contracted to consult and build go to market and sales training programs with several OEM manufacturers such as Canon USA, and HP, and distributors such as Parts Now and Supplies Network, as well Resellers including Office Depot. Norm’s current project, MPSToolbox (, is a software platform which helps technology dealers develop and maintain e-commerce websites.


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