Justin Bieber and the Purple Cow

Way back in 2003, before “Google” was a verb, Seth Godin coined the phrase “Purple Cow”, a term used to describe something interesting and set apart from the rest.  In his book of the same name, Godin postulated that (even for a guy from New York) driving along the quaint countryside of France, the cows along the road that at first held your attention, would eventually blend into the scenery and cease to become interesting.  

What would catch your eye, he argued, was a purple cow…standing among the black, and white, and brown cows that dotted the countryside on your trip from Versailles to Provence.  Of course, the purple cow is metaphoric.  It represents the “signal” we discover while sifting through the overwhelming “noise” we’re subjected to on a daily basis.  In other words, to be remarkable (even back in 2003 and certainly more so in 2013), your product(s) must be radically different in a meaningful way for people to even notice, much less buy, and (if we’re extremely good) tell others about their purchasing experience. 

Tomorrow night, I’m taking my oldest daughter to the Justin Bieber concert.  Bieber (whose last name I thought for years was Beaver) is a true purple cow.  He can dance, sing, write, play, and promote…a true performer with skills and polish and style and nothing, absolutely nothing, left to chance.  The lights will go on as planned, the set list is pre-arranged, the sincere words he says during the breaks and the clothes he wears were all thought out well in advance, to create a unique experience that his fans will never forget. 

What does your product look like?  Is it unique?  Do its attributes market itself?  Or are you just putting a new name on the same old aspirin formula that’s been around for 130 years, trying to move the market share dial by 1%?  What’s harder?   What’s more fun?  The answer to both questions is probably the same. 





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