Book Review : The Purple Cow by Seth Godin - FocusU

Book Review : The Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Recently, I finished reading “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin. A wonderful book, it left me with a host of insightful epiphanies. Let’s start with the most obvious question –  what is a Purple Cow?

A “purple cow” is something or someone that stands out! But how to be remarkable? – that’s the multi-dollar question! The book is filled with case studies, ideologies, and examples relevant to the topic. But there were some lines which really caught my attention and I have my takeaways from it –

Choices Galore!

As humans, we tend to get bored very easily and in this era of technology, we indeed have a lot of choices. What could be the one thing that can get the attention of an individual quickly? Quirky titles, eccentric captions, creative graphics – anything that gets your audience to probe further can work in your favour.

 “If your product isn’t remarkable, it’s invisible”

I would like to ask you to take some time and question yourself as an individual/professional –
“what is remarkable about what you are doing?”
What makes you different is the seemingly insignificant choices you make on a daily basis. It can be anything.  Even getting up early everyday is a remarkable habit. Especially if you ask me – I usually wake up very late when not working. So, how about developing a #remarkable habit while stuck at home due to the current lockdown? Develop a habit that will help you even in the long run.

You are not the project. Criticism of your project is not a criticism of yours

This one is pretty self-explanatory. It is common to get defensive about our possessions, habits, or work. What needs to be remembered is that criticism is a “take it or leave it offer”. If you feel that someone’s inputs are useful for your project, implement them. If you feel that it does not add value, leave it!
Improvise and develop, that’s the key.

“Fail Fast”

Failure is never finalWe need to introspect on our failure and look out for alternatives. Find out what’s not working and try new methods every time. As I was reading this book, I also wanted to see what remarkable things are being done by organisations and people around the world. I was surfing the internet to see If I can find something remarkable related to the book, itself.
Turns out, the first 100 copies of this book were sold for free! One simply had to pay the postage fees. Back in 2002 when the book was first published, it was a big deal! What made it even more interesting was that the copies in question were shipped to the customers in actual milk cartons!

Presentation Matters!

This book stands in true testimony to the power of presentation. Let me ask you –

Apple and One Plus users, remember the first time you unboxed your phone?  How did that feel?

Let’s take another example. If I ask you to name an Electric Car company, the first name to probably pop-up in your head would be Tesla, right? We all have seen concept cars on a TV/ Auto Expo. Who wouldn’t be mesmerised by the technology displayed? The state-of-the-art design – it makes one drool! But have you seen them on the road?

No, right? Strange, isn’t it?

Let’s dig a little deeper! Electric cars during the initial phase were slow and heavy. They looked boring and other-worldly. Companies were scared of taking a chance on them. There were companies that were “still working” on their electric cars when Tesla completely changed the game in 2008! It came out with the revolutionary Tesla RoadsterFast, feature-loaded, and looked stunning. They got the product right, just what the market needed – Fast electric cars.

They leveraged content and digital  marketing using social media platforms like Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram. For instance just the design sketches for the Series 3 were retweeted 4.3K times! The following video is considered by many to be the best fan made Tesla commercial –

Tesla further worked with Influencers to promote the brand, and their fans have did the rest! Famous celebrities to become early adaptors of Tesla included Dr. Dre, Young Thug, Jay-Z, Demi Moore, and of course Jay Leno!

Tesla also has a referral program but for a selective audience. For eg, YouTube Star Creator Ben Sullins, who has facilitated over $10 million in Tesla sales received a Tesla Model X as a gift. If this referral program was for the general public, would it be exclusive?

The Purple Plan

This book talks about a host of marketing and success ideologies and ideas. The following point serves to sum it all up –

  • Sell what people are buying –

Customers Have evolved over the years, they no longer invest in the product but rather the idea, the brand.

  • Focus on Niche customers –

Make the product for target customer personas

  • When the time is right, cross the chasm

Transition from product based to market based values.  Crossing the Chasm will be a struggle. Acknowledge that it is a fast moving market. Market growth does not always flow seamlessly from early market success. It’s necessary to cross the chasm!


This was probably the best part of the book. Otaku is a Japanese word which is defined as something more than a hobby, but a little less than an obsession.

As Seth Godin puts it –

“Otaku turns out to be the heart of The Purple Cow phenomenon.”

Bikers riding their motorcycles in the extreme conditions of Laddakh. Foodies going into the interior part of a new city to explore the regional authentic food; Fans staying overnight outside the Apple store for the latest model; It is all Okatu! Smart businesses target market based on Otaku.

This lockdown has given us more time to think and reflect.This is the time to look-out for your Otaku and implement ideas derived from Otaku into your work to make it truly remarkable!

Read Also  Book Review : To Sell Is Human

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