Purple Cow

Purple Cow

Transform your Business by Being Remarkable

Book - 2009
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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.
Publisher: New York : Portfolio, 2009.
ISBN: 9781591843177
Branch Call Number: 658.8 G544P
Characteristics: x, 210 pages : illustrations ; 18 cm


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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... Read More »

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Nov 17, 2019

A quick read from marketing expert Seth Godin! I was looking for his This is Marketing but that one had too many holds so I checked out this one instead.⁣

The book summarized (in his own words!)⁣

- Don’t be boring ⁣
Being boring makes your product literally “unremarkable,” thus it would have no way of becoming gaining traction, as people will not talk about it. ⁣

- Safe is risky⁣
Being “safe,” or trying to appeal to the mass instead of to a niche group will actually risky, because the product will not stand out.⁣

- Design rules now⁣
Rather than splitting marketing and product design, break down the wall. In an increasingly difficult age to stand out, a product can no longer rely on marketing alone.⁣

- Very good is bad ⁣
This is similar to “safe is risky.” If we try to fulfill all the typical requirements of a product but do not give it something special, it will not be “remarkable.” ⁣

However, my biggest takeaway is the mechanism of influencers. As the book was published in 2002, influencers in general were nowhere as popular as they are now. However, Purple Cow notes that rather than mass marketing, products need to target niche customers and the best way to do so is through the “sneezers,” experts and those who are more likely to try and talk about new products within the niche. ⁣

Nowadays, successful influencers are these sneezers and partnerships are their incentive to “sneeze.” Through targeting influencers, companies also filter through targeted customers, so there is no surprise that such relationships are so popular. Thus it was really cool for Purple Cow to be able to predict this trend almost two decades ago. ⁣

Apr 03, 2018

not for me

bbaratz Feb 27, 2012


iLibrarian Aug 04, 2009

Author Seth Godin’s Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, begins with an overview of traditional marketing methods. No doubt you’ve heard something about the traditional “Ps” of marketing: Product, pricing, promotion, positioning, publicity and packaging. Godin suggests that these traditional concepts will no longer yield optimal financial success in today’s overloaded advertising environment.

Instead, he argues that the creation of purple cows is the key to success. What is a purple cow? Imagine a product or idea that simply markets itself and infects target customers with an “ideavirus”. When it works the early 'infected’ customers (referred to as “sneezers”) begin to spread the word about the product. If the product is remarkable in some way, then there is no need to convince anyone that it’s worthy. Godwin sees no need to waste energy trying to prove the new product is superior to what is already in the marketplace. A purple cow is, after all, obviously much more exciting than yet another regular cow.
Although the theory of the purple cow is simple, Godwin acknowledges that convincing companies to take the risk to create a purple cow is much more difficult and complex. The difficulty with the purple cow “is actually a problem with fear.” The premise of the purple cow isn’t about playing it safe; it’s all about risk. If you don't stand out in a crowded marketplace, then you are "invisible". What company wants to be invisible? Don't be mislead, a purple cow isn’t necessarily cheaper. As Godwin illustrates through numerous examples, the purple cow works and is the best strategy for growth. Think carefully about the success of Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Google, Walmart, and Ikea.

According to Godwin, the coffee bar phenonon was invented by Starbucks and whenever we think coffee, we think Starbucks. Google learned from the mistakes of the “first-generation portals and they don’t carry the baggage of their peers”. Even Amazon.com with their free shipping and huge selection gives them an advantage. “To their entrenched (but nervous) competitiors, these companies appear to be cheating because they’re not playing by the [old-fashioned] rules.”

Godwin’s book presents a convincing new marketing philosophy. It challenges you to start to think differently about consumers and today’s marketplace. It is a quick, easy read that I would recommend.


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