Book: Purple Cow

Purple Cow
Seth Godin

ISBN: 1-59184-021-x

After reading The Dip which I thought was brilliant, my high expectations for the Purple Cow were not met. Nevertheless it had a number of really good points to make. Here is my selection:

  1. Seth Godin defines 3 eras: Before Advertising (think tv ads), During Advertising, and After Advertising. Then points out an obvious observation- Before tv advertisement, if you wanted to know who’s got the best cucumbers on the market, you would ask friend and they will tell you. During Advertising, companies that had money advertised, you watched tv and new already who’s got the ‘best’ product, so you already knew what to buy and didn’t have to ask. Now though we are in the After Advertising era when there are billion of ads, billion of products, and we have much less time than before to choose. So what does work if TV ads are ineffective? Answer is: your product has to be brilliant and original, so that it makes people talk about it and recommend it to friends, so that this way it can market itself.
  2. How is this done? Well you have to build the marketing in the product. Don’t make a product, and burden the marketing team to figure out creative ways to sell it. Mix the marketing and engineering team so that the product itself is creative. Sounds very truthful to me.
  3. “While ideaviruses [super successful popular products] are occasionally the result of luck (consider Macarena), the vast majority of product success stories are engineered from the first day to be successful.”
  4. There was an example how one bank has online banking that is used only by 10% of it’s customers. The bank was considering closing down online banking, until it figure out those 10% own 70% of the banks deposits! Always know who the real valuable customers are. Those leading customers will be the attractive force to the masses. If any ads should be created, they should be targeted to this core target group.
  5. I have a strong opinion about how pointless it is to go to school. I’ve written before about it, and this quote fits my vision so well:

    The Cow is so rare because people are afraid.

    If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise – ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.

    Where did you learn how to fail? If you’re like most Americans, you leanred in first grade. That’s when you started figuring out that the safe thing to do was to fit in. The safe thing to do was to color inside the lines, don’t ask too many questions in class, and whatever you do, be sure your homework assignment fits on the stupplied piece of card stock.

    We run our schools like factories. We line kids up in straight rows, put them in batches (called grades), and work very hard to make sure there are no defective parts. Nobody standing out, falling behind, running ahead, making ruckus.

    Playing it safe. Following the rules. Those seem like the best ways to avoid failure. And in school, they may very well be. Alas, these rules set a pattern for most people (like your boss?), and that pattern is awefully dangerous. These are the rules that ultimately lead to failure. [Seth Godin argues that in the age of After Advertising, you have to shine with originality, because being normal and safe, you will blend with others in the sea of normal prodcuts and you will die]

  6. Another decent point was that packaging DOES matter. (uhm yeah, think Apple Inc packaging)
  7. Easy simple ‘actionable’ advice – Can you make your product collectible, to raise interest?
  8. And I will wrap up with another great quote about having good customer service,

    “Does the post office hire annoying people, or just train them to be that way?”