Book Review: Purple Cow by Seth Godin

After reading the hugely inspirational “Tribes” I’ve been on something of a Seth Godin binge.  Purple Cow is a how-to guide to revolutionize a  comatose company into something truly remarkable. The idea of this “Purple Cow” is to make a product that is so remarkable, so antithetical to the status quo that it immediately strikes a chord with your target market.

Purple Cow is a book about how taking the ‘safe’ course of action is riskier than making the ballsy decisions that defy convention and make a really remarkable product.  Seth describes the ‘TV-industrial complex’ which used television and print mass-media to advertise and create mindless demand in niche markets that did not yet have a clear leader. The profits from these ventures resulted in a continuous cycle – more money spent on advertisements means more profit means more money spent on advertising.

The end result of this cycle is that consumers become more and more inoculated against your advertising and eventually every product in a given sector is an indistinguishable clone of it’s competitors. In markets saturated with similar products that make similar claims the best course of action is the controversial one – stand out. Remarkable products pick a specific customer and solve their problem really well. They solve this problem in a way that turns ordinary customers into fans, and makes fans want to tell everyone else they know.

Most importantly is the premise that remarkable doesn’t happen via design-by-committee, watered-down compromise, or blindly imitating your competitors. It’s by being what your competitors aren’t prepared to; the nicest,  the fastest,  the newest, even the most hated as long as you follow the golden rule:  The surest way to make a terrible product is to try to please everyone at the same time.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Purple Cow by Seth Godin

  1. I haven’t read this, but from reviews and descriptions I’ve read it seems to be a repackaged version of Guy Kawasaki’s “10 Rule for Revolutionaries”…

    DC: I think they follow some of the same general themes. I would say Rules for Revolutionaries is a bit more systematic and perhaps does a deeper analysis, whereas Purple Cow more inspirational.

    I think they’re both worth a read, they complement each other.

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