The real growth comes with products that annoy, offend, don't appeal, are too expensive, too cheap, too heavy, too complicated, too simple, too something. You have to go where the competition is not. The further the better. If there's a limit, you should (must) test it.
The Purple Cow is another pearl by business sensei Seth Godin (you remember The Dip right?). This book is all about being remarkable.
Something remarkable is worth talking about. Worth noticing. Exceptional. New. Interesting. It's a Purple Cow. Boring stuff is invisible. It's a brown cow. Remarkable marketing is the art of building things worth noticing right into a product or service. Stop advertising and start innovating.
Marketing is dead. Long live marketing
The old rule, create safe, ordinary products and combine them with great marketing, doesn’t work so well any more. TV and mass media are no longer your secret weapons. The post consumption consumer is out of things to buy.
The new rule is: create remarkable products that the right people seek out. They are outliers. They're on the fringes. Super-fast or super-slow. Very exclusive or very cheap. Very big or very small. Target a niche instead of a huge market. Find the market niche first, and then make the remarkable product, not the other way around. The more intransigent your market, the more crowded the marketplace, the busier your customers, the more you need the Purple Cow.
The reason it's so hard to follow the leader is this: 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.
We face two choices: to be invisible, anonymous, uncriticised, and safe, or to take a chance at greatness, uniqueness, and the Cow.
It's an interesting paradox. As the world gets more turbulent, more and more people seek safety. They want to eliminate as much risk as they can from their businesses and their careers. And most of the people mistakenly believe that the way to do that is to play it safe. To hide. So fewer and fewer people work to create a new Purple Cow. My goal in Purple Cow is to make it clear that it's safer to be risky, to fortify your desire to do truly amazing things.
When Herman Miller introduced the $750 Aeron chair in 1994, they took a radical risk. They launched a chair that looked different, worked differently, and cost a bunch. It was a Purple Cow. They realized that making a safe chair was the single riskiest thing they could do.
Boring always leads to failure (except, of course, when being boring is, in and of itself, remarkable). Boring is always the most risky strategy.
Ideas that spread, win.
You must design a product that is remarkable enough to attract the early adopters, but is flexible enough and attractive enough that those adopters will have an easy time spreading the idea to the rest of the curve.
A 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. There's nothing to complicate the message.
The Cow and our schools
We run our schools like factories. We line kids up in straight rows, put them in batches (called grades), and work very hard to make sure there are no defective parts. Nobody standing out, falling behind, running ahead, making a ruckus. These are the rules that ultimately lead to failure. In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.
The Japanese have invented some truly useful words. One of them is otaku. Otaku describes something that's more than a hobby but a little less than an obsession.
Consumers with otaku are the sneezers you seek. They're the ones who will take the time to learn about your product, take the risk to try your product, and take their friends' time to tell them about it. The flash of insight is that some markets have more otaku-stricken consumers than others. The task of the remarkable marketer is to identify these markets and focus on them to the exclusion of lesser markets, regardless of relative size.
Smart businesses target markets where there's already otaku.
Your career as a Purple Cow
Remarkable people with remarkable careers seem to switch jobs with far less effort. Remarkable people often don't even have a resume. Instead, they rely on sneezers who are quick to recommend them when openings come up. A standard resume is nothing but an opportunity for a prospective employer to turn you down. A sheaf of over-the-top references, on the other hand, begs for a meeting. Remarkable people are often recruited from jobs they love to jobs they love even more.
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.
If you're thinking about being a Purple Cow, the time to do is when you're not looking for a job.
The book is truly a testament of design thinking, breaking isolation between the different spheres of business. The vast majority of product success stories are engineered from the first day to be successful. It's about designing the thing to be virus-worthy in the first place. Marketing is the act of inventing the product. The effort of designing it. The craft of producing it. The art of pricing it. The technique of selling it.
Marketers no longer: now we're designers.