≡ Menu

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Purple Cow

RATING: 8/10…READ: October 20, 2010

A close contender for my favorite Seth Godin Book. Purple Cow breaks down how you’re product must be remarkable (a purple cow) in order to spread. Godin gives numerous examples of companies that have created companies built around a purple cow and how they have become successful. An excellent book on making sure you’re creating a spreadable product (or business) from the start.

Get at Amazon


Explore the Edges—the extremes

The P’s of Marketing: Product—Pricing—Promotion—Positioning—Publicity—Packaging—Pass-Along—Permission

The most effective business ideas are the ones that spread

Most people can’t buy your product. Either they don’t have the money, they don’t have the time, or they don’t want it.

If an audience doesn’t have the money to buy what you’re selling at the price you need to sell it for, you don’t have a market.

If an audience doesn’t have the time to listen to and understand your pitch, you’ll be treated as if you were invisible

And if an audience takes the time to hear your pitch but decides they don’t want it…well, you’re not going to get very far.

Instead of trying to use your technology and expertise to make a better product for your users’ standard behavior, experiment with inviting the users to change their behavior to make the product work dramatically better.

Look for the influencers, the early adopters, the “sneezers” in the market to spread the word.

It’s not an accident that some products catch on and some don’t. When an ideavirus occurs, it’s often because all the viral pieces work together. How smooth and easy was it to spread your idea? How often will people sneeze it to their friends? How tightly knit is the group you’re targeting—do they talk much? Do they believe each other? How reputable are the people most likely to promote your idea? How persistent is it—is it a fad that has to spread fast before it dies, or will the idea have legs (and thus you can invest in spreading it over time)?

It’s useless to advertise to anyone (except interested sneezers with influence).

Differentiate your customers. Find the group that’s most profitable. Find the group that’s most likely to sneeze. Figure out how to develop/advertise/reward either group. Ignore the rest. Your ads (and your products!) shouldn’t cater to the masses. Your ads (and products!) should cater to the customers you’d choose if you could choose your customers.

Make a list of competitors who are not trying to be everything to everyone. Are they outperforming you? If you could pick one underserved niche to target (and dominate), what would it be? Why not launch a product to compete with your own—a product that does nothing but appeal to this market. Think Coke owning Sprite.

Being Safe is Risky

What tactics do you use that involves following the leader? What if you abandoned them and did something very different instead? If you acknowledge that you’ll never catch up by being the same, make a list of ways you can catch up by being different.

What would happen if you gave the marketing budget for your next three products to the designers? Could you afford a world-class architect/designer/sculptor/director/author?

If you have a 100million dollars to spend on marketing; market 10 products at 10 million each instead of 1 at 100 million. Why? Greater chance of having a hit with 10 and more lessons learned. 1 is a lot bigger gamble.

What could you measure? What would that cost? How fast could you get the results? If you can afford it, try it. “If you measure it, it will improve.”

Once you’ve managed to create something truly remarkable, the challenge is to do two things simultaneously:

Milk the cow for everything it’s worth. Figure out how to extend it and profit from it for as long as possible

Create an environment where you are likely to invent a new Purple Cow in time to replace the first one when its benefits inevitably trail off.

How could you modify your products or services so that you’d show up on the next episode of Saturday Night Live or in a spoof of your industry’s trade journal. –Think J. Peterman

Do you have the email addresses of the 20 percent of your customer base that loves what you do? If not start getting them. If you do, what could you make for these customers that would be super-special?

Could I make a collectible version of my product?

Marketing just to keep busy is worse than nothing at all.

Appeal to the wacky and wonderful. Otaku: a little more than a hobby, but less than an obsession.

Where does your product end and marketing hype begin? The Dutch Boy can is clearly a product, not hype. Can you redefine what you sell in a similar way?

Do you have a slogan or positioning statement or remarkable boast that’s actually true? Is it consistent? Is it worth passing on?

The four steps to working with the sneezers

Get permission from people you impressed the first time. Not permission to spam them or sell them leftovers or squeeze extra margins from them. Permission to alert them the next time you might have another cow

Work with the sneezers in that audience to make it easier for then to help your idea cross the chasm. Give them the tools (and the story) they’ll need to sell your idea to a wider audience.

Once you’ve crossed the line from remarkable to profitable business, let a different team milk it. Milk it for all its worth and fast.

Reinvest, start over, and repeat.

Don’t believe your own press releases.

Learn the SCIENCE of projecting: to build a discipline launching products, learning, and doing it again. Understand the process and take it where it goes.

Remarkable isn’t always about changing the biggest machine in your factory. It can be the way you answer the phone, launch a new brand, or price a revision to your software. Getting in the habit of doing the “unsafe” thing every time you have the opportunity is the best way to learn to project—you get practice at seeing what’s working and what’s not.

Explore the limits. What if you’re the cheapest, the fastest, the slowest, the hottest, the coldest, the easiest, the most efficient, the loudest, the most hated, the copycat, the outsider, the hardest, the oldest, the newest, the…most! Of there’s a limit, you should (must) test it.