Cows, according to marketing guru and author Seth Godin, are plain and ordinary, but a purple cow makes people stand up and take notice. This theory is the basis of his gem of a book, The Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. In it, Godin examines traditional marketing approaches and then debunks the myth that these approaches are sufficient to achieve continued success in our evolving marketplace.
The book begins by providing a fundamental education about the traditional methods used to transform an intangible idea into a profitable venture. Those entrenched in the marketing business refer to these building blocks as the “Ps” of marketing; they include paying attention to such elements as product pricing, promotion, positioning, publicity, and packaging. Although traditionally marketers achieved success by working with these “Ps", Godin argues that technological advances require marketers to modify these building blocks and adapt to our evolving global marketplace.
Specifically, Godin argues that financial success is no longer achievable through a remarkable marketing plan. Instead, the key to success now lies in the creation of purple cows -- remarkable products that market themselves. In short, Godin’s plan requires that companies create an idea virus and infect their targeted customers with it. This infection should transform its recipients into sneezers, who subsequently spread the product information. Once the word spreads, the result is a purple cow (a remarkable product well-positioned to create a significant profit) which can be milked for all its worth.
Godin argues that the premise is easy enough, but the problem lies with convincing corporate giants, who are less inclined to take a risk, that the potential for the creation of a purple cow is worth the risk. The situation, he says, creates an interesting paradox. As the world gets more unpredictable and competitive, businesses seek ways to minimize their risk and play it safe. This elicits behavior that contradicts the theory of the “purple cow,” enticing marketers to stay committed to ideas that will guarantee moderate levels of success. For those marketers who take the risk and successfully create a purple cow, however, this sets them up for enhanced rewards.
The book offers a quick education in marketing, which is infused with entertaining trivia-like facts about the marketing successes and failures of a wide range of companies. Godin quite convincingly illustrates that those companies which utilize his new marketing approach fall into the “success” category, while those companies that remain loyal to the more traditional approaches either fail or achieve more moderate levels of success. The book puts forth an interesting theory and its unique look falls in line with what its author professes. Purple Cow is a quick, educational, entertaining and unique read, and I highly recommend it.