Book: Purple Cow: Transform your business by being remarkable

cow1This book is about what I perceive as marketing: creating products that really resonate with the core audience and designing / packaging them in a way that the customers cannot help themselves but to tell their friends.

Are you wondering why “purple cow?”. Because its stands out among black and white!

Trying to make stuff for „everyone” does not cut it anymore. You cannot start with mediocre product and „market” (advertise) the shit out of it. Instead, your product has to be #1 in some category, even if category is really made up.

Create remarkable products. That simple and that hard.

Here is how you may create a popular product:

  1. Create a remarkable products that people want to tell their friends about.
    1. Target a niche. Have something that is very appealing to a small audience, but make this audience fall in love with the product
    2. Explore the limits, go away with the blandness! Find out how customers could describe you
    3. Word of mouth for your product will spread differently in different niches. Some niches are more prone to share product info with friends than others
  2. Advertise it to said audience, they are your early adopters
  3. See them advertise it to their friends

This is marketing done right. Marketing where the marketer changes the product, not the ads.

My highlights

  • Too often, big companies are scared companies, and they work to minimize any variation – including the good stuff that happens when people
  • If an audience doesn’t have the money to buy what you’re selling at the price
  • 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.
  • The world has changed. There are far more choices, but there is less and less time to sort them out.
  • All the obvious targets are gone, so people aren’t likely to have easily solved problems.
  • Consumers are hard to reach because they ignore
  • Satisfied customers are less likely to tell their friends.
  • Little noticed over the past fifty years was a very different symbiotic relationship, one that arguably created far more wealth (with large side effects) than the military-industrial complex did. I call it the TV-industrial complex.
  • The new rule is: CREATE REMARKABLE PRODUCTS THAT THE RIGHT PEOPLE SEEK OUT.
  • TV-INDUSTRIAL AGE POST-TV AGE AVERAGE PRODUCTS REMARKABLE PRODUCTS ADVERTISE TO ANYONE ADVERTISE TO THE EARLY ADOPTER FEAR OF FAILURE FEAR OF FEAR LONG CYCLES SHORT CYCLES SMALL CHANGES BIG CHANGES
  • The leader is the leader because he did something remarkable. And that remarkable thing is now taken – it’s no longer remarkable when you do it.
  • Awareness Is Not the Point
  • 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.
  • If a product’s future is unlikely to be remarkable – if you can’t imagine a future in which people are once again fascinated by your product – it’s time to realize that the game has changed. Instead of investing in a dying product, take profits and reinvest them in building something new.
  • The only chance you have is to sell to people who like change, who like new stuff, who are actively looking for what it is you sell.
  • 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 what you sell.
  • 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 is 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)? Put all of your new product developments through this analysis, and you’ll discover which ones are most likely to catch on. Those are the products and ideas worth launching. The Big Misunderstanding
  • Marketing in a post-TV world is no longer about making a product attractive or interesting or pretty or funny after it’s designed and built – it’s about designing the thing to be virus-worthy in the first place.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 to 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?
  • So it seems that we face two choices: to be invisible, anonymous, uncriticized, and safe, or to take a chance at greatness, uniqueness, and the Cow.
  • Criticism of the project is not criticism of you. The fact that we need to be reminded of this points to how unprepared we are for the era of the Cow. It’s people who have projects that are never criticized who ultimately fail.
  • What tactics does your firm use that involve 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. Case Study: The Aeron Chair Before Herman Miller, desk chairs were invisible.
  • “The best design solves problems, but if you can weld that to the cool factor, then you have a home run,”
  • 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?
  • 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
  • How could you modify your product or service so that you’d show up on the next episode of Saturday Night Live or in a spoof of your industry’s trade journal?
  • 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 superspecial? Visit http://www.sethgodin.com and you can sign up for my list and see what happens.
  • Sit There, Don’t Just Do Something
  • What would happen if you took one or two seasons off from the new-product grind and reintroduced wonderful classics instead? What sort of amazing thing could you offer in the first season you came back (with rested designers)?
  • This is marketing done right. Marketing where the marketer changes the product, not the ads.
  • find the market niche first, and then make the remarkable product – not the other way around.
  • slogan that accurately conveys the essence of your Purple Cow is a script. A script for the sneezer to use when she talks with her friends.
  • In almost every market, the boring slot is filled. The product designed to appeal to the largest possible audience already exists, and displacing it is awfully difficult.
  • How can you market yourself as “more bland than the leading brand”?
  • If someone in your organization is charged with creating a new Purple Cow, leave them alone! Don’t use internal reviews and usability testing to figure out if the new product is as good as what you’ve got now. Instead, pick the right maverick and get out of the way.
  • Work with the sneezers in that audience to make it easier for them 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.
  • Marketing was really better called “advertising.” Marketing was about communicating the values of a product after it had been developed and manufactured.
  • Is there someone (a person, an agency?) in your industry who has a track record of successfully launching remarkable products? Can you hire them away, or at least learn from their behavior? Immerse yourself in fen magazines, trade shows, design reviews – whatever it takes to feel what your fans feel.
  • prototyping new products and policies? When GM shows a concept car at the New York Auto Show, there’s more than ego involved. They’re trying to figure out what car nuts think is remarkable. I’m not pitching focus groups here (they’re a waste). I’m talking about very public releases of cheap prototypes.
  • 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! If there’s a limit, you should (must) test it.
  • Is your product more boring than salt? Unlikely. So come up with a list of ten ways to change the product (not the hype) to make it appeal to a sliver of your audience.
  • Think small. One vestige of the TV-industrial complex is a need to think mass. If it doesn’t appeal to everyone, the thinking goes, it’s not worth it. No longer. Think of the smallest conceivable market, and describe a product that overwhelms it with its remarkability. Go from there.
  • Copy. Not from your industry, but from any other industry. Find an industry more dull than yours, discover who’s remarkable (it won’t take long), and do what they did.
  • Find things that are “just not done” in your industry, and do them. JetBlue almost instituted a dress code for passengers. They’re still playing with the idea of giving a free airline ticket to the best-dressed person on the plane. A plastic surgeon could offer gift certificates. A book publisher could put a book on sale. Stew Leonard’s took the strawberries out of the little green plastic cages and let the customers pick their own – and sales doubled.
  • Ask, “Why not?” Almost everything you don’t do has no good reason for it. Almost everything you don’t do is the result of fear or inertia or a historical lack of someone asking, “Why not?”

 

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