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Be Remarkable: Read Purple Cow

Lately I have been more into books on CD for a couple of reasons. One, I like to continually learn new things. And two, listening to a CD in your car is much easier than trying to set aside the time to read when I get home from work. The last book I listened to was Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. It’s a quick read/listen but really gets you to think about different ways to do things.

Godin opens by telling a story of driving through the French countryside. While driving he see’s cows roaming mile after beautiful mile. But after a little while he grew very tired of looking at basically the same cows and landscape. Then he points out, if he were to see a purple cow, that would be remarkable. Being different and standing out from the herd of other ‘cows’ in your market is something a lot of us are trying to achieve.

pc1Godin points out that you don’t need to market to everyone – something that many companies try to do. In fact, no brand can be all things to all people. He says to focus the product and the marketing on are what he calls the ‘Sneezers.’ Sneezers are the first adopters that jump on board with a product early. Focusing on them and getting them what they need should be of the utmost importance. The Sneezers will then greatly help market the product for you through word-of-mouth and the like. However, for the Sneezers to latch on to your product and for it to do well, it must be remarkable.

Otaku. You may have never heard the word before. Godin describes it as “…a Japanese word that describes something that’s more than a hobby but a little less than an obsession.” Some may have a food otaku. It is what makes you drive to Corktown in Detroit for barbecue at Slow’s when there are over 110 other barbecue joints closer. Otaku is what makes you drive to Toledo for a hot dog from Tony Packo’s when you could just pick up one walking out of Home Depot. Everyone has an Otaku for something. Otaku makes you strive for the remarkable.

The largest takeaway I took from this book is that if it’s not remarkable it’s not worth doing. What would be the point of doing something just mediocre? Why do you think something that everybody else is doing would also work for you? It may work for a time but it won’t increase sales much, nor will it differentiate yourself from the competition. Find your Otaku. And as we all know, there are always new competitors trying to steal a portion of your market share. Being different is the best thing we can do. Incremental differences don’t count.

The end of the book sums its up best with Godin’s 4 main takeaways:

  1. Don’t be boring. Don’t blend in, stand out. This book is about being remarkable. Do it.
  2. Safe is risky. Playing it safe can be a recipe for disaster.  As mentioned, focus on the Sneezers and not the population. To get a product off the ground you must focus all of your efforts on the people who will use your product first. They will push along the ideas to the masses.  If you don’t get the attention of the Sneezers you’ve lost your investment.
  3. Design rules now. Design of a product should come before marketing. Let the designers have almost free reign. For the product to be remarkable, the design must be kept close and not diluted. The product needs to be unique to be remarkable.
  4. Very good is bad. Very good is not enough to be great. If you are very good you’ve missed the mark. We are shooting for excellence. Make it remarkable, not just very good.

To me this little book was a nice change of pace. Although I gave you a summary already, I highly recommend reading the book yourself. As I was going through it I found myself not only paying close attention to the ideas that Godin presents but also getting lost in my own thoughts. I think that is something that can’t be recreated unless you read it yourself. After all, who doesn’t want to be remarkable?

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