The Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable
REVIEW BY FABRIZIO BALESTRI
© 2003, Seth Godin
(From the book jacket): Cows, after you’ve seen one or two or ten, are boring. A Purple Cow, though… now that would be something. Purple Cow describes something phenomenal, something counterintuitive and exciting and flat-out-unbelievable. Every day, consumers come face-to-face with a lot of boring stuff—a lot of brown cows, but you can bet they won’t forget a Purple Cow. And it’s not a marketing function that you can slap onto your product or service. Purple Cow is inherent. It’s built right in or it’s not there. Period.
WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK:
Business and Sales leaders, entrepreneurs, top performers, and just about anyone who wants to sell something to someone else. (If you’re reading this review, you should read this book).
WHY THEY SHOULD READ THIS BOOK:
If you are like me, you are constantly on the move executing on this plan and that, and too busy to read lengthy oratories espousing how to run your business better. The Purple Cow is anything but that. It’s short, comprehensive and helps you formulate your own ideas while helping you make them extraordinary. The examples and case studies are wonderfully brief and easy to understand. Read it one day and implement the next. That is the way of the Purple Cow.
My experience with this little book was nothing short of transformational. At the time it came out, I was struggling to take a fledgling enterprise into an established market—and was faced with the challenge of not having the resources to launch products and gain name recognition in the traditional manner for this industry. Then one of our marketing partners suggested a new business book to me, The Purple Cow. With a central premise of finding out what makes you “remarkable” and then capitalizing on that extraordinary nature in every action, The Purple Cow forced us to look deeper than our obvious value to the industry.
After a sales meeting and series of training sessions focused around The Purple Cow, we identified both existing services and new innovations that made our company stand out from the crowd. We knew we could remake the image of the typical staid, boring financial services company but we had to be bold, smart, and extremely sensitive to feedback so that we could hone our position in the market skillfully. With everything to gain (and everything to lose) we set out on our adventure.
Seth Godin talked about ideas that spread. He called these ideas, ideaviruses. He said that “sneezers” were the spreading agents of an ideavirus. Sneezers are experts who tell all of their colleagues about a new product or service. With those thoughts in mind, we decided on narrowing down to a specific powerful product and message for a niche segment of our market. We then brought together a small group of industry leaders (customers and potential customers) who we knew were outspoken and influential. Our goal was to spread our ideavirus via these sneezers.
The results were immediate and powerful. Suddenly, our sales representatives had more to offer new contacts than just the expected package of a company with credible products. We were out there with never-before-seen services, a completely new twist on customer care, and a bright, engaging approach that was represented throughout our organization—from our field personnel to our call center teams to our senior management. After one selling season, the results were truly amazing. We grew from $100 million in volume to over $600 million in three short years—a feat that was virtually unheard-of in our highly competitive and densely packed financial marketplace.
Our work with The Purple Cow continued to pay dividends, and we eventually successfully sold our company to a multinational financial services organization.
No question about it: Being extraordinary works.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE WORK:
- Don’t try to make a product or create a service for everybody, because that is a product or service for nobody.
- Know your niche market and target it relentlessly.
- Create an ideavirus so focused that it can overwhelm. Choose your sneezers carefully as they will spread the ideavirus to others until your competitors can find a cure. By then, you’re off on your next remarkable product.