One of my favorite things to do is read a book cover to cover in one sitting. The act of getting lost in a book and realizing its been hours since you started. This is exactly what happened to me when I read Purple Cow by Seth Godin.
The theme of the book is simple. In today’s age, a new product cannot rely on traditional marketing or advertising to be successful - it has to be remarkable, grab attention, and be worth talking about – it has to be a purple cow.
Godin points out that there is already a product for everybody – you don’t want to be an entrepreneur that is competing with the top brands, and essentially becoming a copycat. You need to innovate your brand and create a product that is remarkable. For this to happen in today’s age, Godin plants the seed that the innovator and marketer should be the same person.
Godin cites Starbucks, Google, and Amazon as examples of businesses that don’t use traditional advertising to be successful. They are successful because of word of mouth and the phenomenon it creates. Everyone knows these brand names. The key is figuring out when and who pays attention because it’s the consumer who chooses now, not the marketer.
Sneezer and the Ideavirus
“A brand (or a new product offering) is nothing more than an idea. Ideas that spread are more likely to succeed that those that don’t. I call ideas that spread, ideaviruses. Sneezers are the key spreading agents on an ideavirus.” (Godin, pg. 38)
These are the people who run to their family and friends about a new product – the ones who will ultimately market your brand for you, as Godin points out. First, you need to find the sneezers in your market. Next, you have to spread the idea. To do this you need to target a niche because it will you help you distinguish part of the mainstream. The last part is luck - hopefully the innovation spreads and migrates to the crowds.
Take a Chance
There are people who criticize Godin’s strategy for marketing, saying if everyone isn't doing it, then why should they? The answer is fear of failure.
There are 2 choices to be made in this situation: play it safe and be invisible or to take a risk and become the purple cow of your industry. What would you choose?