Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable – Seth Godin

For my first post I decided to write about a book I read called “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin.  Seth Godin  has written thirteen books, all of which have become best sellers.  American Way Magazine even calls him “America’s Greatest Marketer”.

Godin believes that the industry of ‘interruption marketing’ including radio, TV and spam or the ‘TV Industrial Complex’ are no longer effective.  The older ways of reaching a consumer don’t work as well as they used to.  A more effective approach to reaching your customer is through ‘permission marketing’ in which companies treat their prospects as an asset and give them something personal, relevant or anticipated.  “Although the service or product provided must be remarkable.  This is where Godin believes a ‘purple cow’ should be introduced.

Godin explains that the original P’s of marketing (Product, Pricing, Promotion, Positioning, Publicity, Packaging, Pass-along and Permission) are no longer enough.  For a company to be remarkable if must incorporate a “Purple Cow”.  The P’s can no longer be used as a reliable checklist that ensure successful marketing

The fallacy of the ‘TV Industrial Complex’ is that consumers now have more choices whenit comes to purchasing products.  People simply do not have the time to sort out all of these products so most advertisements are ignored. This was not the case twenty years ago.  Consumers used to have more time and fewer choices so in turn disposable income had less ways to get squandered.  When companies had come up with an innovative product back then most people found a way to pay for it.

Godin’s solution to this ‘TV Industrial Complex’ is to make your product remarkable.  Since mass marketing simply does not work anymore he suggests that marketers create an amazing product and attempt to dominate a niche market or a small specific audience.  When these niche markets or early adapters come across a good product or service they ‘sneeze’ a ‘virus’ onto their friends and family.  This refers to word of mouth marketing which is where the focus of the book refers back to.  Focusing on these small groups once entering the niche would be far more effective then spending dollars on advertising elsewhere.

Looking at ‘Moore’s diffusion curve’ we can see the product life cycle Godin provides in his book. Regardless of the industry, successful products follow a similar pattern after they are introduced. The ‘Innovators’ at the beginning of the curve is where companies should focus most of their advertising.  Even though the majority of customers are the ‘Early and Late Majority’,  the ‘sneezers’ are more important because of how much influence they have on the curve. To reach this group of ‘innovators’ or ‘sneezers’ marketers will have to take a whole new approach to marketing.  Involving designers in the marketing process and working with the ‘sneezers’, giving them the tools (and a story) they’ll need to sell the idea to a wider audience.

Godin suggest that once the team has crossed from being remarkable to being a profitable business to let a different team milk it.  Productize services, service products and let other variations bloom.  Although there can be success, looking at the product life cycle, it is inevitable that a  product will slide downward.  After a company milks it they should reinvest and do it again with a vengeance  while failing again and again. Assume that what was remarkable last time won’t be remarkable this time.

Examples of ‘Purple Cows’ from the book include products such as: Starbucks, JetBlue, Apple products, Barbie and other remarkable businesses.  Godin provides case studies and poses questions at the end of every chapter such as “What would happen if you spent as much money on innovation as you are currently spending on advertising”.  The old rule was to create safe, ordinary products and combine them with great marketing.  The new rule is to create remarkable products that the right people seek out.

One of my favorite quotes from the books is “The opposite of remarkable is very good”.  Quality and good service is something consumers already take as a given.  Creating a purple cow is about producing something that goes beyond that and is worth talking about even after the product or service’s expiration.  I think this can be applied to all different aspects of life and almost any industry.

Overall I think this book was a good read.  There are definitely some quality concepts that could be adopted by almost anyone.


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