Keith Pillow of Caddy Marketing submitted the first dish up for examination in my new weekly series that answers the question, “What the heck can we learn about marketing from our favorite foods?” An expert on marketing and communications, career advancement, and business development strategies, Pillow is an adjunct professor of marketing at California State University Los Angeles (CSULA), and a frequent guest lecturer and panelist at various professional events. Connect with him on Twitter: @CaddyMarketing.

This week’s Marketing Dish is about Originality

If you’ve been hanging around here at all, you know I’m a Seth Godin fan. And that fan-girl part of me got its start with Purple Cow. The Purple Cow is the thing that’s different. The product nobody’s ever seen. The service that makes people’s eyes pop, and biz owners go, “Sweet Baby Lettuce! Why didn’t think of that?!”

It’s true: Every small biz owner needs to find their “Purple Cow.” But you can’t get hung up on trying to be first. Originality is rarely as original as you might think. Just about 99% of the time, the stuff we think of as new or innovative is simply the result of riffing off of ideas that already exist.

Mashing up two different things to make a third. Re-telling (with a twist) a story that’s already been told. Apple nachos are like that. ‘Apples’ and ‘nachos’ already existed. They just didn’t exist together.

And depending on how health conscious you are, you can make them a dessert or a nutritious snack. Some recipes call for marshmallows and caramel. While others go in for nut butters and dried fruit.

While we’re at it, ‘purple’ and ‘cows’ were two things we already knew about, too. We just never saw them as one idea until Seth came along.

The “original” idea for this blog series came after reading two things: “Brandscaping,” by Andrew Davis and a colleague’s post about mac-n-cheese. What pre-existing things could you mix or meld to make a third fabulous and fresh product or service? What strange angle might you take on the thing you’re already doing? If you’re stumped for ideas and you’d like some help brainstorming, leave us a comment below and let’s see what we can do — together.