"You're either a Purple Cow or you're not. You're either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice.
What do Starbucks and JetBlue and KrispyKreme and Apple and DutchBoy and Kensington and Zespri and Hard Candy have that you don't? How do they continue to confound critics and achieve spectacular growth, leaving behind former tried-and true brands to gasp their last?
Face it, the checklist of tired 'P's marketers have used for decades to get their product noticed -Pricing, Promotion, Publicity, to name a few-aren't working anymore. There's an exceptionally important 'P' that has to be added to the list. It's Purple Cow.
Cows, after you've seen one, or two, or ten, are boring. A Purple Cow, though...now that would be something. Purple Cow describes something phenomenal, something counterintuitive and exciting and flat out unbelievable. Every day, consumers come face to face with a lot of boring stuff-a lot of brown cows-but you can bet they won't forget a Purple Cow. And it's not a marketing function that you can slap on to your product or service. Purple Cow is inherent. It's built right in, or it's not there. Period." (Drawn from Seth Godin ' Purple Cow book description; translated into French: La Vache Pourpre, Maxima, 2004).
I f you've never read a book by Seth Godin, the Purple Cow is a good start. Godin has an innate way of making you think out of the box: Don't expect something academic, expect good sense and a great sense of humor too. If you run your own business, I bet you will keep wondering whether your business is a purple cow, how to make it a purple cow.
This reminds me of the interview of a German manager whose family had been manufacturing garden dwarfs for centuries. Some twenty years ago, it was his turn to run the show. At the time, he said he hated the idea: How can you be successful with girls, he said, when they realize that you're in the business of garden dwarfs! Now, he loves it and has developped a genuine understanding of the garden dwarfs market. The one thing he did recently is to produce a brand new rather unexpected kind of dwarf.
As you may imagine, even if there are more and more garden dwarfs aficionados (including French designer Phillippe Stark, most people tend to laugh at people who put garden dwarfs in their garden. They find it ridiculous, ugly what have you... This is obviously something that may hurt business. Well, what the German firm did was to design a new dwarf: The garden dwarf that has been killed by the neighbour. Imagine a dwarf, lying down, face (and beard) on the ground, with a knife deep in his back. This dwarf is a killing. The firm has sold tons of them.
Why? Well, it sounds to me that this dwarf is a kind of purple cow. The dwarf design is a fun and astute way of generating cash-flows out of the love-hate feelings that garden dwarfs trigger. You hate them, show it, buy a killed one. You love them and want to make fun out of your neighbour, buy one too!
More by Seth Godin in Cyberlibris:
Permission Marketing, Maxima
Marketing Viral, Maxima