This has been one of the most remarkable and fun to read marketing books I have read. It’s easy to understand, it’s funny in more than one way and it challenges you.
The Purple Cow
The book is all about being remarkable, you need to stand out if you ever want to be at the surface. That’s exactly the same with the name of this extraordinary book. It is based on the fact that brown cows are boring, not noticeable. While a purple cow would be something momentous. But how can you be remarkable? Let’s state one thing, everything that could be invented has already been invented. The chance of inventing something totally new, is extremely small. Therefore the competition is immense. But do not get mistaken, it is not a short cut nor is it cheap. If anything, it costs a lot.
If you are looking for a concrete solution to your marketing problems, you might be disappointed. There is no concrete solution. The solution is to be risky, not led fear control you. It is no longer about the products you make, but about the stories you tell. With this change a whole new approach has to be applied. Mass media is dead, ok this might be a bit overreacting, but it is not as special and effective as it used to be. TV ads and newspaper ads are given less and less attention. People simply try to ignore it and with them your target audience. The whole industry has changed, the consumers have the power nowadays, they decide if they want to listen to you. It used to be about the product attractiveness, its interesting facts after it was built, but that’s the past. Truth is, it is the other way around.
It is actually as simple as that, dare to take the risk. Dare to get criticized, because the products sold most have been enormously criticized at one point. If you stay playing it safe, no one will notice you, thus you won’t be remarkable, you will stay a plain brown cow. So you have to ask yourself, what do you want to be? Because if your products are worth talked about, it will get talked about. That’s as simple as it is going to get. The problem we fear is fear itself. That is why cows are so rare.
To whom are you talking? Who do you want that listens to your message? Differentiate your consumers, find the group who is most profitable to you. Hopefully this group is full of sneezers. Sneezers are according to Seth Godin, people who sneeze the ideavirus around. These are people who want your product, they can be early adopters or not, but they TALK! And they talk a lot, they will eventually convince their peers that your product is the absolute must have. Why he calls it the ideavirus is pretty simple, brands are ideas and products are as well. The sneezers will spread the virus among their peers.
So who do you target then? First of all it is very important that you target a niche. Don’t go all superman and target the mainstream because chances are you won’t be noticed or caught up on. So start with the niche, after a while this audience will become more eager. Afterwards it is very likely that it will dominate the niche and eventually it will flow into the mainstream. Take the golden kiwi for example. New Zealand successfully introduced this new fruit to North America. The fruit is not even called Kiwi, but they changed it. They aimed at the Latino-niche and it immediately caught on. Nowadays they ‘Golden Kiwi’ is sold in supermarkets in Western Europe.
The famous P’s
There are many P’s invented, and the most commonly used are:
But the new P in the playground is the Purple Cow from now on. But what does this mean to your marketing department. Well marketing should not stay only in the marketing department nor does it only include advertising. Marketing now is the act of inventing. Therefore, Seth Godin believes a marketer should run the company. Successful purple cow companies are for example:
Starbucks and JetBlue. Marketing should be built into the product itself.
The magic cycle of the cow
So how do you target does precious sneezers that you want so badly.
- Get permission, to alert them. Note it says alert not spam. You don’t want to overly target them.
- Work with the sneezers, give them the tools they need to vent your story.
- Milk the cow once it has become profitable. Do it fast and hard, milk that cow totally empty. Because chances are, it is over in a heartbeat. Therefore, you should never trust your own opinion. Get another team to let it bloom into a precious flower.
- Launch another Purple cow to the same audience. You cannot bet on only one.
In this time where mass media get less attention, the rules of marketing have changed completely. It is no longer acceptable that you start to care about a product’s attractiveness or interesting details once it has already been designed and built. It is the other way around. Since mass media are no longer the way to go, how do you make sure your target audience is aware then. You want sneezers, they will spread your ideavirus to the market. They will influence their peers and tell you stories. That is why you have to cooperate with them. Give them the tools they want and need to fulfill this task. Another change in the way you target is that you no longer immediately bring your product to the mainstream, it is better to target a niche first and let them do the advertising for you. Be remarkable, wonderful, outstanding and unique, because if you lack these characteristics you will never float to the surface. Do not be afraid to fail, because failing is good, it will lead to improvement. Don’t fear for criticism, because the products that have been criticized the most, also have the most outstanding sales. Be fearless, the sky is the limit.
Don’t be boring, safe is risky, design rules and very good is bad!