Are You a Purple Cow? – marketing in the new world

23 08 2009
it’s safer to
be risky –to fortify your desire to do truly amazing things.
Once you see that the old ways have nowhere to go but
down, it becomes even more imperative to create things
worth talking about.

I’ve just been reading Seth Godin‘s marketing masterpiece Purple Cow. The style of the book, with short and to-the-point chapters and case studies, provides a very readable, crisp and thought-provoking account. Below are some assorted notes and favourite parts.

Seth talks about BEING REMARKABLE as the biggest, and only, marketing strategy in the modern world. Simply advertising your product is not effective anymore as your potential clients and customers have learned to ignore the majority of marketing efforts. What you need is a unique and remarkable idea.

On the easiness of this task, Seth argues:

I don’t think there’s a shortage of remarkable ideas. I think your business has plenty of great opportunities to do great things. Nope, what’s missing isn’t the ideas. It’s the will to execute them.

What Seth talks about here is the idea economy. Ideas – new and fresh – are what separates you from the competition. Only with the ideas can you market your product effectively. That’s why companies seek creative people – employees that can provide the necessary edge and “remarkable” new perspective. Thinking is important.

He continues:

It’s safer to be risky –to fortify your desire to do truly amazing things. Once you see that the old ways have nowhere to go but down, it becomes even more imperative to create things worth talking about.


Seth also concentrates on who your audience are when you come up with remarkable ideas. He stresses the “early adopters,”

who can actually benefit from using a new product and who are eager to maintain their edge over the rest of the population by seeking out new products and services.

These people are your most important group. Firstly, they may be the buyers or users of your new product. Secondly, they are the idea-leaders of the rest of the population. The majority of people are followers. They wait out the first rush and only after they’ve heard recommendations from the early adopters will they choose to engage with the new thing.

This point is especially important when you take into account the sudden sky-rocket spread of social media in recent months. If you own a business or are launching a product, you want to be able to use these. The modern word-of-mouth recommendations appear on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Sure, face-to-face contacts are still the most powerful but imagine the reach a recommendation on Twitter can have if the individual has thousands of followers who believe his taste and credentials. And then add Re-Tweeting to the equation. The results are amazing.


How do you break into the market? Specialize!

The way you break through to the mainstream is to target a niche instead of a huge market. With a niche, you can segment off a chunk of the mainstream, and create an ideavirus so focused that it overwhelms that small slice of the market that really and truly will respond to you.

You still need your great idea. But at least you’re not trying to eat the whole elephant at once.


How can you apply this strategy to a job-seeking individual?

The secret doesn’t lie in the job-seeking technique. It has to do with what these people do when they’re not looking for a job. These Purple Cows do an outrageous job. They work on high-profile projects. These people take risks, often resulting in big failures. These failures rarely lead to a dead end, though. They’re not really risks, after all. Instead, they just increase the chances that these people will get an even better project next time.

So go out and try and be unique. Build your remarkable badge. This is Seth’s advice which is still very timely. Network your way to better opportunities, get the most out of each one of them, take on extra tasks. Build your personal brand and become the Purple Cow yourself. Can you do it?

For some pointers watch Seth give a TEDTalk about standing out.




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