Seth Godin tells you in Purple Cow that to spread your idea you need to be remarkable.
- Consumers are overwhelmed by ads and messages: it doesn’t work anymore
- Being “very good” is not enough. Very good is boring
- You must be remarkable and get people talking about you. Then you can even charge a premium
Too Many Products Advertised
Seth Godin says that there is an amount of products and advertisement these days that advertisement has lost much of its value.
You simply cannot get noticed in this deluge.
The author for example once asked to people reading newspaper in a lobby if they could name two advertisers with full page ads on that newspaper.
Nobody could name two of them.
anecdotes mean little. But that anecdote means even less. To begin with, he asks for two advertisers, not just one. What if there were only one full page advertiser on that newspaper?
And second, advertising also works at an unconscious level. Possibly, it works mostly at an unconscious level.
Advertisement is Ineffective
Seth Godin says that most general advertisement is ineffective.
Imagine you advertise X.
First you need to find people who are interested in X among the multitude of people who aren’t interested. But only a fraction of those interested in X will be paying attention when your product shows.
Finally, only a fraction of that fraction will not be happy with they already use and only a fraction of a fraction will be willing to take action your advertisement.
Going Back to Old Advertising Ways
Seth Godin says that before advertising all the buzz was through word of mouth. Then when advertising came along it really worked well and there was a relation between how much advertisement and sales.
But now we are in era of advertisement saturation. And we should be going back to the word of mouth marketing.
With Facebook, Twitter and social network it’s even easier.
Today there are so many products that satisfying customers’ needs is not enough.
And advertisement is ineffective.
What’s the solution?
Taking Risk is The Only Option
Being safe means being boring and unremarkable, and that’s the safest way to sell little and go straight into oblivion.
The author mentions the car maker Buick, which always “kept it safe” with its design and, well… Never sold well.
Another “safe” strategy is to follow the market leader and copy them. But that means you’ll never be the leader.
Companies following that strategy will always fail in the long run because the market will invariable change and they won’t be able to innovate.
Focus on Innovators
Seth Godin argues that you should not try to sell to the mass market and the average Joe. But you should instead be remarkable and sell to a smaller group of innovators.
Those guys are the ones who are willing and excited to try new things. They will talk about your product and they will help you to make it grow.
Little by little, the early majority and later the majority and the laggard will catch on.
This is called the diffusion curve, and Godin takes this concept from the famous book Crossing the Chasm.
Target Ads and Measure
Seth Godin says that in this era where so few people pay attention it’s paramount that you target your ads to the early innovators and to the people who care about your product.
That’s the first step.
The second one is to measure and adjust your advertisement depending on the feedback you get.
Real Life Applications
Don’t Be Afraid of Being Remarkable
One of the reasons many individuals and companies resist from being remarkable is the fear of failure and ridicule. Don’t!
Even if some might don’t like you, you only need to be liked by a few to be successful. And you have an immense higher chance when you are remarkable.
The idea is interesting and noteworthy -it not obvious- but you don’t really need a whole book for it.
Doesn’t Make Much Sense to Me
In his TED talk on Purple Cow Seth Godin shows a picture of multicolored packaging products that all try to be remarkable. Then introduces a few products that all try to capture people’s attention.
And then he says that you spread your ideas you must be remarkable.
But that’s exactly what they were all trying to do!
Advise Doesn’t Always Work
There are plenty of niches where you can complement a leader and make plenty of money. For example Jay Samith in Disrupt You makes the opposite case: today everyone’s trying to be unique. And there are plenty of opportunities left for those who occupy the more boring area of the marketplace.
Samith has plenty of example that he exploited himself of making lots of money while being “boring”.
Purple Cow relies heavily on anecdotes, stories and correlation -also read Fooled by Randomness on correlation bias-.
There is little numbers, data and science.
Godin says he had is idea of purple cow while watching a long field of cows in Europe. However there is a well known brand in Europe which has a purple cow as a brand.
Should we believe Godin that he had his inspiration watching fields of mammals instead of following his sweet tooth in some shop?
I don’t know.
But whichever the case, I like the book’s concept. The point is, you don’t need to read this book for the concept of “be remarkable”.
I suppose that’s what marketing departments the whole world over are trying to do anyway.
And I think you can get better employ your time by getting the same message through a summary or a 10 minutes speech.