This week I would like to discuss an interesting book I found. A colleague pointed it out to me, stating it to be very intriguing and different. A must read! And boy was she right.
The title alone proofs this. Purple Cow, who’s ever heard of this name? My initial thought, after reading the title, was the Milka cow, then a sudden urge for chocolate reached my mind and stomach. This immediately proves the importance of this cow. Because who has ever seen a purple cow in real life? I sure haven’t. And what you haven’t seen before, you’ll remember! That, ladies and gentlemen, is the purpose of the purple cow. How do you stand out from the crowd? How will people remember you? How can you truly become remarkable..
The book has been written by Seth Godin, a famous American author and public speaker. He has written 17 bestsellers, all who’ve been sold worldwide and translated into 35 different languages. He mostly writes about post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, Marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. Before he became known for his books, Seth Godin was Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo. He even got inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame!
Meet Seth Godin, a Purple Cow in real life. Who can miss him with that bald head and those yellow glasses? He is remarkable himself!
So now that we’ve proven his expertise in this area, let’s have a look and his book!
“The essence of the purple cow is that it must be remarkable – if remarkable started with a P, I could probably dispense the cow subterfuge, but what can you do?”
The first pages..
The first 25 pages of this book are about the past of Marketing.
According to Seth Godin it’s no longer possible to market directly to the masses.
In his book, he even talks about the death of TV-industrial complex. About 20 years ago advertising became huge. Companies who used this marketing tool, saw an immense growth in sales and market share. The more people you’d reach via newspapers, radio or television, the more sales you’d make. Unfortunately nowadays, the consumers don’t have time to listen to you anymore, they don’t want to take the time to check out your new product. In the today’s blur of advertising, they won’t even notice you!
Therefore Godin talks of 2 rules.
The old rule: Create safe, ordinary products and combine them with great marketing..
The new rule: Create remarkable products that the right people seek out.
Meaning that the old way of marketing won’t cut it anymore. You need to be remarkable, you need to stand out and you need to find the right target audience for your message.
In this first section of the book, Seth Godin points out the importance of this concept in a clear and understandable way. From hereon on, the book will be marked with a bold dot, whenever he is explaining an important takeaway point.
And so it continues..
Within this book you’ll find several case studies, meaning that there many examples to help you understand the concept and how to change. A variety of Purple cows are displayed, such as Starbucks and HBO, who show you how to ‘cheat’ the old system. The great thing of this book is that through questions Godin makes reading very interactive. After every chapter he asks questions. How, what, what if.. Seth Godin makes reading the book almost like a personal journey. Below I’ve highlighted a couple of concepts from the book, which I found most interesting to share with you.
In his book, Seth Godin speaks of ideaviruses, which I personally find a very interesting concept. Instead of making a product special, interesting and/or funny after the building and designing of the product. We now have to start with these types of ideas in the beginning. The product has to be remarkable and interesting from day one! Meaning that marketing isn’t anymore about promoting and selling a product later on, it’s about helping to creating and design new products and services. A stronger cooperation between several departments within a company.
“It’s useless to advertise to anyone”
Here, below, you can see one, out of few, visual from the book. technically it’s not really a visual, its a graph. Nonetheless, It points out the importance of the target audience. As mentioned earlier on, one can no longer advertise to the masses. You need to find that specific group that is interested in your product, big enough to reach, and willing to listen to you. The graph shows four types of groups: Innovators, Early adopters, Early & late majority & Laggards. Godin points out that even though you may know which group you mean to target, you still need to differentiate you audience. Not everybody is the same, needs the same. You have to be smart about it.
Aside from this he speaks of fear. Fear is the reason why there are so few purple cows. I agree. In order to become remarkable, you have to take a risk and become different or take a different road. This will most definitely revolve into criticism. Being different has never been fully accepted, people will talk about you ( and that’s the point).
“being safe is risky”
This saying can be found all over the book. Godin keeps remembering you it. Further on in the book he even states that if you’re not remarkable, you’re boring. Nobody remembers boring, nobody shares boring. “The opposite of remarkable if very good.” Meaning that your product can be good, your service is good, which meets the customers expectation. But is still boring, and the customer won’t share it with anyone. Only when doing something unexpected, exceptional or terrible, people will share.
The last part, before the end, I would like to discuss, focusses on you. How can you become a purple cow? When looking for a (new) job, you too need to be remarkable! How else will they listen to you? Seth Godin suggests to take a risk in your projects, he even tells you to fail. Failure will get you noticed, and they never lead to a dead end. Also worth of mouth is applicable here. Let your references do the work, then you won’t even need a résumé.
At the end of the book, Seth Godin started doing some brainstorm sessions with himself. Even though many alineas make sense, it’s still a very interesting and catchy part of the book. You can find a variety of tips and tricks on how to transform your company into a purple cow taking small baby steps.
Now that we’ve reached the end of both the book and the blogpost, I just wanted to share with you the following. I really enjoyed reading this book. Seth Godin has a really nice and conversational writing style. You can just feel the humour floating through the lines as you’re reading. And even though I’ve highlighted the, for me, most important parts of the book, I definitely recommend you to read is yourself. No there aren’t many visuals in the book, but with a small book like this you don’t need them. But there is so much to learn from the case studies, the brainstorm sessions and the questions. This book is a definite MUST!
So, do you want to become a purple cow??