Seth Godin and his family were thrilled to see many cows during their vacation in France. But soon, the excitement faded away as all the cows looked the same. They realized that only a purple cow would be remarkable and exciting.
This principle applies to product development and marketing. Creating an ordinary product like all the others won’t grab attention. You need a remarkable and exciting product, a Purple Cow, to stand out.
Mass Marketing Doesn’t Work Anymore
Traditional mass marketing techniques like TV commercials and newspaper ads are no longer as effective as they used to be because people today have less money, time, and attention to spare. Trying to target as many people as possible is not the way to go, as most of them won’t even listen to you.
To get attention for your product, you need to target the right people who fall into a bell curve: the innovators and early adopters, who will then market your product to the majority. Your Purple Cow must be remarkable enough to attract the innovators and flexible enough to appeal to the majority, once they hear about it from a source they trust.
Find Your Cow by Taking Risks
To find your Purple Cow, you need to look for extremes in your products, advertisements, image, and pricing. Identify the absolute limits of possibility, even if you don’t plan to go that far. Playing it safe is risky in today’s world of brown cows, and copying someone else’s success won’t make your product remarkable.
You need to stand out and catch the attention of innovators and early adopters who will spread the word. The Four Seasons and Motel 6 are examples of exceptional brands that succeeded by being opposite extremes in the hotel industry.
What Remarkable Doesn’t Mean
Common misconceptions about remarkability include mistaking “good” for remarkable, thinking that being ridiculous is the same as being remarkable, and relying on cheap pricing to make a product remarkable.
Good products with broad appeal are often boring and more likely to fail. Being ridiculous may attract attention, but not the right kind. Similarly, cheap pricing is not enough to make a product remarkable and can lead to a price war with competitors.
Creating a single remarkable product isn’t enough to sustain a business forever. Milk it for all it’s worth by passing it on to another team and extracting maximum profits.
Then, invest the profits into developing your next big thing. Keep the Purple Cow cycle going to stay at the forefront of your industry.
But don’t churn out mediocre products just for the sake of it. Wait until you have your next remarkable idea. Remember, playing it safe is the riskiest move in today’s age of the Purple Cow.