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Book Summary – Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

Purple Cow - Book summary

The world of marketing has changed forever, and traditional forms of marketing—including TV and mass-media advertising—no longer work. The best way to build a brand or launch a new product/service is to be remarkable. This book by Seth Godin explains why and how to build Purple Cows that people will notice and talk about. In this free Purple Cow summary, you’ll learn the new rules of marketing, and what’s involved in creating your very own Purple Cow.

Purple Cow: An Overview

In the past, businesses typically used the 5Ps of marketing to guide their marketing strategy and tactics. Depending on the company or individual, the 5Ps could include: product, pricing, promotion, positioning, publicity, packaging, pass-along, and permission.

Today’s marketing climate calls for a new P—the “Purple Cow.” The Purple Cow refers to something remarkable, i.e. something worth noticing and talking about. Imagine you’re a city-dweller driving through the countryside. Initially, you may feel excited to see brown cows grazing in the fields, but you’ll quickly lose interest after a few hours of the same scenery. Then, you notice a purple cow in the field. Suddenly, you’re sitting up, snapping photos and sharing it with everyone—because it’s unique and remarkable.

Seth Godin wrote this book in many short, bite-sized chapters, each discussing a concept or insight about marketing. In our Purple Cow summary, we’ve consolidated the ideas into 2 main sections:
(i) The New World of Marketing; and
(ii) Creating your Purple Cows.

The New World of Marketing

Seth Godin explains how marketing has changed dramatically in the past decades.

  • Before, during and after the advertising era: Basically, the market has become so saturated with choices and marketing messages that customers have learned to tune out mass-advertising.
  • Using Geoff Moore’s adoption curve in Crossing the Chasm, Godin explains why you cannot possibly penetrate the mass market without first appealing to Innovators and Early Adopters–and these people will only pay attention to something that’s special enough to stand out from the crowd or fulfill their needs in a superior way.

Why You Need Purple Cows

In short, playing safe will only make you invisible in a crowded marketplace. Today, the most wildly-successful solutions tend to be outliers, i.e. they’re unusually fast or slow, big or small, luxurious or affordable. Companies like JetBlue Airways, Starbucks, and Vanguard all established their leadership positions because they played by a totally different set of rules.

The only way to truly succeed today is to take risks, stand out, and create remarkable products that will attract the right people. Specifically, you want to create something that “sneezers” (the influencers among Early Adopters) will notice and want to talk about. You need Purple Cows.

Purple Cow summary - The New Rule of Marketing
To learn more about the various marketing eras, Moore’s adoption curve and the current competitive landscape, do check out our full Purple Cow summary, where we explain:

  • Marketing before, during and after the mass-advertising era;
  • Why offering the lowest price or copying the market leader won’t work;
  • The 4 main phases of the adoption curve and how to conquer it with Purple Cows;
  • How to evaluate a product/idea’s potential as an “ideavirus”; and
  • Examples of Purple Cows who’ve spread like virus because of their remarkability.

Creating Your Purple Cow

Since every Cow is unique, there’s no fool-proof formula for creating a Purple Cow. And, trying to create something unusual and remarkable is by default risky. Seth Godin offers several principles, ideas and concepts to increase your chances of success. Here’s a quick overview:Purple Cow summary - How to Create Purple Cows

The best way to create Purple Cows is to constantly explore the edges or fringes, and test ways to make your products remarkable:

  • Go through the list of marketing Ps: Product, Pricing, Promotion, Positioning, Publicity, Packaging, Pass-along, and Permission.
  • For each area, identify the edges that you can explore. List down valuable attributes and consider if/how you can be the “mostest” in each area. For example, can you be the most durable, simple, complex, caring, cool, fun, exclusive, personalized, or value-for-money?
  • Test which one(s) will most likely deliver the desired results.

In our complete Purple Cow summary, we’ll explain each of the principles or considerations above, including:

  • Why you must have the courage to stick out and be remarkable;
  • Why you should go for short, repeated development cycles;
  • How you can still market/advertise effectively by going for targeted marketing, not mass advertising;
  • Why/how to find people with “otaku”;
  • How you can be a Purple Cow in your career; and
  • Other ideas and examples to stimulate your imagination.

Getting the Most from Purple Cow

Are you ready to take some calculated risks and become remarkable? if so, do check out the our full book summary bundle which includes an infographic, 12-page text summary, and a 25-minute audio summary.Purple Cow summary - Book Summary Bundle

This book is written in short, easy-to-read chapters, with numerous examples to illustrate how Purple Cows can be created in any area—from hotels to cars, supermarkets, or even salt. Although the book was first published in 2002, many of the key ideas are still applicable today. For more ideas and resources, do purchase the book or visit Godin’s website or his blog

If you enjoyed this article, do also check out The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Hooked, as well as Crossing the Chasm.

About the Author of Purple Cow

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable is written by Seth Godin–an American author and entrepreneur. Godin previously founded and sold a book packaging business. He then launched Yoyodyne to promote permission marketing. In 1998, Yoyodyne was sold to Yahoo! for about $30 million and became Godin Yahoo’s vice president of direct marketing. In March 2006, Godin launched Squidoo which was sold to HubPages in 2014. Godin has authored 20 books.

Purple Cow Quotes

“Stop advertising and start innovating.”

“Don’t try to make a product for everybody, because that is a product for nobody.”

“The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.”

“You have to go where the competition is not. The farther the better.”

“If you are a marketer who doesn’t know how to invent, design, influence, adapt, and ultimately discard products, then you’re no longer a marketer. You’re deadwood.”

“The path to lifetime job security is to be remarkable.”

Click here to download the Purple Cow summary & infographic

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