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646 of 698 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Brief Essay Stretched into a Short Book, January 14, 2004
This review is from: Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable (Hardcover)
Purple Cow is probably the most overrated business book published in 2003.
Let me save you money and time. Read the summary below rather than buying and reading this book:
Marketing should begin with a differentiated product or service that gets attention (like a purple cow does among a field of brown ones). Be sure that those who care deeply about that differentiation learn about your product or service (as Krispy Kreme does by providing free donuts when it opens a new store). Those who care will e-mail and tell everyone they know (the ideavirus concept Mr. Godin has written about before). Keep adding new differentiated enhancements to your product or service (pretty soon you don't find a purple cow so interesting). Start looking for totally new business models that provide a breakthrough like your first purple cow did. Don't waste your time and money on advertising. Alternatively, it's dangerous not to do this because your product or service will be lost among all of the other brown cows (undifferentiated offerings).
I congratulate Mr. Godin on his marketing skill. Turning these few old saws with a few new examples into a best seller is outstanding marketing. Otherwise, I would grade this book as a one star effort. It will only be of value to those who have never read anything about the power of business model innovation. To learn how to do successful business model innovation, you will have to look elsewhere. I was particularly disappointed that he relied on examples that are so old. Starbucks, HBO and Krispy Kreme, for instance, haven't done a business model innovation in years. Only the JetBlue example is recent. Yet the world is full of new examples he could have talked about.
Actually, the book's key metaphor is flawed. While a purple cow (like the title and cover of this book) will certainly get your attention (and may get you to spend a few dollars to investigate it), is there really anyone out there who wants an actual purple cow because it provides any value other than uniqueness? The example reminds me of the old-time professional wrestler, Gorgeous George, who always wore purple and used that color in everything he owned (including his car and turkeys on his ranch near Yucaipa, California). Yes, the purple attracted your attention . . . but unless you liked his wrestling, that one glance was the end of it. I remember driving to his ranch to see a purple turkey, but never went back. Actually, the charity cows that are painted and decorated by different artists and then auctioned off in different cities would have made a better metaphor for this book.
Like much of what pretends to be new and different in business books today, this book is simply dressed up on modern clothes and new terms. I suggest you read Strategy Maps, the Innovator's Solution and Corporate Creativity if you want to learn how create these changes successfully in a company.
As I finished the book, I began to realize that much of what is wrong with business gurus today is that they love to tell their own ideas . . . but are seldom willing to do the hard work necessary to locate and measure how to do what they espouse. It made me realize that I should always "walk my talk to teaching people how to do what I encourage them to do."
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 21, 2006 5:41:49 AM PST
J M says:
Extremely well writting critique----thanks for taking the time to write an honest review.


Posted on May 21, 2007 8:55:34 AM PDT
reader says:
Excellent review.

Posted on Jun 28, 2007 3:50:02 PM PDT
I think your summary of the book is good but I disagree with the conclusion that it is only worth 2 stars.

You admitted that Mr Godin made people listen to old ideas ("old saws") packaged as new.

If what he talks about is true then he is teaching. And if I never heard the examples he used in the book then they are new to me. I am not a business person but I am reading about advertising..why? Because the way the information is presented is compelling.

What else can a book do than inform us? What makes a great book? Compelling originality and truth. If that is not success I do not know what is...think about it.

Posted on Dec 21, 2007 4:52:07 AM PST
Thierry Malo says:
"Purple Cow" is a ... Purple Cow. According to your review, the content of the book is not really interesting. However the way the book was marketed is a direct application of what is inside. Seth Godin is so confident that he even put the marketing plan online on fast company website.

You have to admit that :
- A purple book in the marketing field is pretty "remarkable".
- A brand new book sent to 5000 people for the price of the postal shipping is pretty "remarkable".
- A book sold by pack of twelve to incline people to give it away to others is pretty "remarkable".

How did he spread is "ideavirus" ? by using the audience of Fast Company.

So, I did not buy that book. Why ? Because Seth Godin is right : <i>The leader is the leader precisely because he did something remarkable. And that remarkable thing is now taken -- so it's no longer remarkable when you decide to do it</i>.

I red the article on Fast Company insted.

PS : The purple cow is a common thing in europe for it is the mascotte of "Milka" Chocolate factory.

Posted on Jun 2, 2008 5:26:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 2, 2008 5:26:56 PM PDT
Bob Nolin says:
Excellent review. Here's another way to save the time and expense of reading this book: view Godin on TED here: .
He essentially sums up the book in a 17 minute talk given at the TED conference a few years back when the book came out. The piece I got from his talk that is missing from your review is that the idea is NOT to just be unique and stand out: you need to get the attention of the Early Adopters (with your purple cow suit, or whatever) and they will then tell everyone about you. So you're really only presenting half the story here. Unless he didn't include that in the book.

Posted on Jun 10, 2008 7:45:52 PM PDT
A. D. Cox says:
Great review. I do wish you would have put the author of the book you recommended. I found one with a similar title Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes by Kaplan and Norton. Is this the book you were speaking of?
I found the book interesting, and it did give me ideas for my own purple cow, but I would like more on the process...

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 7:48:09 AM PST
Orion2012 says:
But the point is that you went out of your way to HIS ranch to see HIS purple turkey. Why didn't you just go to some turkey farm and see a regular turkey? The fact that you went there and not a typical turkey farm proves Godin's concept right.

Posted on Sep 16, 2009 11:52:14 AM PDT
Sayyebo says:
You sure spared me the trouble of buying it.

Posted on Jul 13, 2010 9:32:50 PM PDT
Mohit Tandon says:
Thanks.You saved me $$

Posted on Nov 2, 2010 4:24:23 AM PDT
That's a very helpful review. Skipping this book. Thank you.
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Donald Mitchell

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