Why safe in the new risky
I’ve long adored Seth Godin.
He’s forward thinking, clever, compassionate — an unstoppable, generous genius. Plus, he hates formal schooling like I do. So basically, he’s my type of guy. (I may or may not be joking. Ha!)
But ok, let’s get to Purple Cow. I've been seeing this referenced everywhere, but I never really gave it a chance because of the weird title to be honest. And then wow, when I finally got my hands on a copy, I finished it in about 5 hours total while in transit to and from the province, in a moving bus, sleep deprived and hungry. And yet I felt refreshed from start to finish.
I don’t wanna spoil it for you guys, so I'll be sharing my top favorite points, expound on them just a wee bit and let you read the whole book for yourself. Sorry, no shortcuts for a great book like this ;) Here goes!
Don’t be invisible, be outrageous.
Today we have everything we could possibly need, want and even more of everything we don't. We've got millions of choices and variations, but far less remarkable, meaningful products. Most products today are invisible. Boring, bland, unoriginal and forgettable. Don't go down the same path. Instead, make it a goal to turn your ideas into products and services that are just so outrageous, useful, noteworthy, and worth talking about. Be a Purple Cow, not a plain ol’ boring Brown Cow.
Find a niche, solve their problem.
If you’re trying to create a product for everybody, you’re making a product for nobody. Figure out who’s buying (no matter how small this market niche is) and then solve their problem through your product or service — not the other way around. It’s a lot easier to sell something that people are already in the mood to buy, or in dire need of. Your job is to serve the small few in your chosen niche so well that they can't help but spread the news to the masses. Mind blown!
The attention of your prospects is gold.
The increasing noise in both our online and offline world today is just… sad. So you have to be SO grateful when a select few stop and pay attention to your offerings. Better yet, make sure you’re reaching the right ears (and hearts) in the first place. Note that any form of media that interrupts consumer activity AKA mass media just doesn't work anymore. Touching everyone in the same way, regardless of who they are and what they want is a huge amount of waste. The new rule is: Create remarkable products that the right people seek out. You won’t even have to spend thousands on handing out flyers or displaying commercials on TV, customers will seek you out themselves. Win-win-win for you, your consumers and the environment.
Marketing starts from product development.
Marketing once worked this way: you make a bland product and make it attractive or interesting or pretty or funny after it’s designed and built. We're smarter now so we know marketing starts long before the product or service even exists. Marketing now is designing the product or service to be remarkable from the get-go. In short: You have to build the very success of your product’s marketing into the product itself. That marketing budget you have? Invest it into the product, not the media.
On the other hand, if you have no new cool product or service to offer, do nothing. At least you’re not annoying your existing customers with a lot of unnecessary junk. Write this down: Marketing just to keep busy is worse than nothing at all.
Stop being a copycat.
A lot of entrepreneur wannabes think that they can follow the exact path of other brands who have achieved some of level of success in their specific industries. They wait and watch others take risks from the sidelines, and then quickly rush to copy it upon seeing any glimmer of success, enjoying the fleeting convenience of a proven business concept. Seems fine, right? But Godin says you’re foolish to attempt a pail imitation. (Ouch.) You have to go as far away from the competition as possible. Explore the limits. Get out of the box.
Being different means you’re prolly gonna get a lot of weird stares or hear some mean comments every once in a while, but you have to accept that criticism comes to those who stand out. Just remember: you do not equal your project. Criticism of the project is not criticism of you. Just roll with it!
Keeping it safe will kill your business.
The safe thing to do has always been to fit in. Godin goes on talking about the same problem with educational systems: running them like factories, lining kids up in straight rows, putting them in batches (called grades), teachers working hard to make sure nobody’s standing out, falling behind, running ahead, making a ruckus.
Playing it safe. Following the rules. Those are the best ways to avoid failure says traditional education systems! But boy how wrong. In the real world, these rules lead to failure. Fitting in is failing, especially in business. So go crazy with your ideas! In the long haul those who will win in this whole entrepreneurship thing are those who realize they have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by changing the rules of the game.
Godin doesn't even have to say it, but by the end of the book you realize you've got no other choice but to grow your business with the Purple Cow thinking. Nothing else is going to work.
To me Purple Cow means throwing your maddest craziest most amazing business smarts in creating a beautifully-designed product that solves a problem, nothing less.
And of course, stepping out in courage to make it all come to life.
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