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Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
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The classic bestseller that taught the business world that safe is risky; very good is bad; and above all, you're either remarkable or invisible
In 2002, Seth Godin asked a simple question that turned the business world upside down: What do Starbucks and JetBlue and Apple and Dutch Boy and Hard Candy have that other companies don't? How did they confound critics and achieve spectacular growth, leaving behind formerly tried-and-true brands?
Godin showed that the traditional Ps that marketers had used for decades to get their products noticed-pricing, promotion, publicity, packaging, etc.-weren't working anymore. Marketers were ignoring the most important P of all: the Purple Cow.
Cows, after you've seen one or two or ten, are boring. A Purple Cow, though . . . now that would be something. Godin defines a Purple Cow as anything phenomenal, counterintuitive, exciting . . . remarkable. Every day, consumers ignore a lot of brown cows, but you can bet they won't ignore a Purple Cow.
You can't paint your product or service purple after the fact. You have to be inherently purple or no one will talk about you. Godin urges you to emulate companies that are consistently remarkable in everything they do, which drives explosive word of mouth.
Purple Cow launched a movement to create products and services that are worth marketing in the first place. Now this expanded edition includes dozens of new examples from readers who've taken the message to heart.
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I like his perspective! Be remarkable...
I found it a little to similar to 'All marketers are story tellers' but it unique enough to make it interesting and valuable.
In the new marketing age, consumers are too busy and too flooded with marketing to listen to the typical pitch. So, if your product is not remarkable, if it doesn't stand out by itself (with or without marketing) like a purple cow in a herd of Holsteins, then it will be lost in the proverbial shuffle.
Today's consumer is consumed by attention deficit. So how do you get busy people who have everything they want and who are constantly bombarded with sales pitches to listen to you? The confluence of available choices (high) and available time (low) conspires against today's entrepreneur.
Since consumers today ignore you and insist on permission marketing, the old rule is out: create safe, ordinary products and combine them with great marketing. The new rule is in: create remarkable products that the right people seek out. Be the outlier--the company that's different, that thinks and acts outside the box.
Smashed down and compacted, Godin's whole message is: it's safer to be risky, to pursue the truly remarkable, different product, rather than to try to market a safe, boring product remarkably. Create a fascinating product that stands out from the crowd rather than creating a fascinating ad campaign for your ordinary product.
So what to do? Create idea viruses that spread from the early adopters to the general public. How do you create an idea that spreads? Don't try to make a product for everybody, because that product is for nobody. The everybody products are all taken. The way you break through to the mainstream is to target a niche instead of a huge market. As Godin says in a later book, "small is big."
But here's the key--the product must be built virus ready! The intention of the invention must be niche novelty. You must develop products and services so useful, interesting, outrageous, and noteworthy that your niche market will want to listen to what you have to say.
You can't make people listen. But you can figure out who's likely to be listening when you talk. And when you talk, you're either remarkable or invisible depending on how purple your cow is (not how much purple you use in advertising your cow). So, create a product that dominates a niche. Think small.
But why is the purple cow so rare? Fear. Create something unique and people will criticize it. Criticism comes to those who dare to be different. The timid fit in and go unnoticed--lost in the shuffle of the shuffling herd. Be different. Give the marketing budget to the designer. Innovate a product and introduce it to your sneezers. Launch a new product, not a new slogan. Explore the limit. Ask, "Why not?"
But what if you've already invented? Then redefine what you sell. Go for the edges (niche influencers) and describe in fresh ways what those edges are. Be edgy--the edgier the better, the edgiest the best.
Thus, none of this means that the "slogan" is bad. It just means that the slogan is good for a different reason. It used to be the slogan was good because it fit the 30 second commercial sound bite. Now the slogan is good because the virus can be passed more easily, more succinctly. Your product should shout: "Remarkable boast that's true!" Then it will be worth passing on. The slogan is the story that influencers pass on like a virus.
Where does remarkable originate? From passionate people who make products first for themselves.
But . . . how purple is "The Purple Cow?" True, it's not that novel. But, people bought it. The book itself practiced what it preached. Yes, the savvy entrepreneur already gets this. But Godin's niche is the wanna-be, not-yet-savvy innovator. There are plenty of those out there (to date--250,000 who have bought "The Purple Cow").
Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of "Beyond the Suffering," "Soul Physicians," and "Spiritual Friends."
It's not enough to be very good or adequate. There are plenty companies doing that. Nor is it wise to copy exactly what another successful company has done. It won't work the same for you. The worst thing of all is to try to be everything to everybody. That's a death knell for sure.
Instead Seth shares many stories and anecdotes to illustrate how selecting your niche and producing a product or service better than anyone else is the goal. Better yet, find a niche so small that you're the only company in it. When a potential customer needs that specialized product or service they'll have to come to you. And, if that customer is what Seth calls a "sneezer," he will spread the word about you cheaper and faster than an expensive ad campaign.
Speaking of sneezers. These should be your target market. Seth says "Only the risk-taking, idea-spreading people on the left part of the curve are willing to listen to you."
The rest wait until a product or service has been around for a while, until it's safe.
Before you spend another dollar on ads and advertising campaigns, read Seth Godin's Purple Cow. It may cause you to disband your advisors, cancel your focus groups and listen to your customers instead.