How to be a purple cow? Check out 6 lessons from Seth Godin in his book “Purple Cow” – WAU

Imagine if you found a purple cow grazing while traveling on vacation. What would you do? First, I think I would call a psychoanalyst, right? Jokes aside, I believe that afterwards he would take his smartphone and post photos on social networks. Guess what? Seth Godin, one of the most influential marketing professionals, shows in “Purple Cow: Transform your […]

Imagine if you found a purple cow grazing while traveling on vacation.

What would you do?

First, I think I would call a psychoanalyst, right?

Jokes aside, I believe that afterwards he would take his smartphone and post photos on social networks. Guess what?

Seth Godin, one of the most influential marketing professionals, shows in “Purple Cow: Transform your business by being remarkable” that to be notable you must adhere to the “purple cow” sense.

But what exactly is this and how to apply the concept to your company’s reality?

That’s what I’ll show you here! Understand how current this concept is and check out six valuable lessons in business and marketing.

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What is a purple cow?

If you always do the basics in your career or produce something common, you will certainly be seen as one of the thousands of “brown cows” in the corporate and business world.

That is, it will not cause people to want to comment on you on LinkedIn or refer your product to friends, on Facebook or Instagram.

The purple cow, for Godin, represents a new P in the marketing mix that, in the postmodern world, takes on a different definition.

Not only professionals in this area should be promoters, but everyone – both in business and in career – if they want to gain space.

For the author, the attributes of products are now at the heart of what marketing is: the art of inventing, the effort to design and the craft of producing new products; the art of pricing them and the technique of selling them.

That’s what Jetblue did, according to Godin. The airline’s CEO one day invited the head of marketing to get involved in product design. The decision, until then controversial, had great results and the process continues today.

But how to be remarkable in a world where everything seems to have already been created?

It is not rational to compete with market giants, but that does not prevent you from being remarkable in your segment, for a specific niche of people, attracting them at the right time and in the right way.

The old formula, which involves creating common products, safely, and combining them with excellent marketing, no longer works.

That’s because we’re too busy to pay attention to advertisements and desperate to find good ways to solve our problems:

Comparison purple cow

6 lessons from the book “Purple Cow”

1. If you are a “purple cow”, you provoke “Otaku”

Godin says that the challenge for entrepreneurs and anyone who wants to be remarkable is to cause the feeling of “otaku”.

Otaku is a Japanese word that, as presented in the book, signifies the irresistible desire that leads someone to cross the city to try a new pasta restaurant highly rated by friends.

How many companies can you say have reached that goal?

The author cites some of them, seen as cheaters by the market, simply because they are not using outdated advertising techniques to win.

For competitors, these companies seem to cheat because don’t play according to the rules.

  • Starbucks: they created the cafeteria which is a phenomenon and now, whenever you think about coffee, you remember Starbucks.
  • Amazon: free delivery and strict selection gives them an unfair advantage over neighboring stores.
  • Google: they learned from the mistakes of the first generation of portals and do not carry their competitors’ bags.
  • HBO: they need to schedule original shows only one night a week. They can focus on investing and engaging in networks.

Not following the common path (that of the rules) is one of the reasons why the companies mentioned are examples of “purple cows”.

Let’s go to the other questions presented in the book that, for sure, can help you think not only about an enterprise, your business, but you – your personal marketing and career.

It is necessary to adopt the idea of ​​the “purple cow” in everything we do in life.

2. How to create ideas that go viral?

In “Crossing the Chasm”, Geoffrey Moore designed how new products and ideas reach the population, creating a curve for the diffusion of ideas, which moves from left to right.

It starts with innovators and early adopters, reaches the majority and eventually reaches the laggards:

In quoting “Crossing the chasm”, Godin makes us realize how the Sales success of a product is only achieved when consumers capable of risking something new, innovators, start consuming that product.

These “innovators” and “trendsetters” create a favorable environment for the “mass” to feel safe to experience the novelty.

But, how to create ideas that spread?

The main thing is not to try to make a product for the dough, because it will end up being a product for anyone. The idea is to focus on a niche in the market, segment it and impact that small slice that, in fact, will respond to what you sell.

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3. Comfort is a risk!

  • Comfort is a risk.
  • Very good is bad.
  • In addition, you can be noticeable or invisible.

These are the main teachings of Purple Cow. Many people do not risk something new, leaving good opportunities and great ideas to escape.

Godin’s goal is to show us that taking risks is the safest and is what motivates us to do truly incredible things. Inertia and fear paralyze, but courage moves excellent people to unimaginable results.

For the author, there is the will and the way!

In the business world, he believes that there is no shortage of notable ideas. What is lacking is the will to execute them.

4. Fear is the purple cow’s main enemy

Why is it so difficult to be remarkable?

The problem with the purple cow is actually the problem with fear.

Purple cows are so rare because people are afraid to take risks, to be accepted; fear of so many things that there is no time left to focus on the “purple cow”.

An interesting point made in the book is about when we learn to avoid notability.

Not asking too many questions, avoiding exposing oneself, being afraid of ridicule or showing ignorance about something accompanies some people since childhood, making them loyal followers of the imposed rules.

Studying, getting married, having children, pursuing a stable career, working and dying … This is the traditional script for a socially acceptable life, isn’t it?

The problem is that this path (and any other), when one is afraid to take risks or innovate, goes to the inevitable: inertia and invisibility.

If you are notable, some people will probably not like you.

It is part of the definition of being notable, because no one receives only praise. It is necessary to learn to deal with this issue, because the best that the shy person can hope for is to go unnoticed, but criticism arises for those who stand out.

There is no way to know if your purple cow is a guarantee of success.

You have no way of guessing whether the idea is remarkable without running the risk of presenting it to society.

That is the point: the result is unpredictable and you must be willing to take the risk.

40 years ago, Bob Dylan, one of Seth Godin’s favorite purple cows, first appeared at a festival playing only electric instruments. Acoustic fans booed the singer and saw it as a betrayal. Not at all, Bob Dylan is no longer a success.

In 2001 billionaire Mike Bloomberg ran for mayor of New York. He was criticized, shunned, booed and, worst of all, dismissed as an amateur. But he won the election. See how unpredictable everything is? Take a shot!

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5. Follow great examples and be an example!

What makes birds fly together?

The leaders break the wind resistance and the entire flock that follows can fly more efficiently. Without the formation of the triangle, birds would never have enough energy to reach the end of their long migration.

But what does this have to do with the “purple cow”?

It is a metaphor used by Godin to make a comparison between the organization of birds and the competitive relationships existing in the market.

He says that if we take a good look at the flight of the birds, we will see that, from time to time, one of those behind comes around, flies forward and begins to guide the group, giving the opportunity for the previous leader to go back and fly with more calm.

In the market, the problem lies with entrepreneurs who just want to follow strategies similar to those of their competitors and are risk averse.

They wait until a leader comes up with some innovative idea and then run to copy it, taking advantage of the break in wind resistance.

The problem with people who avoid a notable career or business is that they never take charge, never break the wind resistance. As such, they never end as leaders.

Thinking of a career, these are the people who decide to work in a large company and intentionally work like an anonymous buzz, staying behind to avoid risks and criticism. If they make a mistake and choose the wrong bird to follow, they lose.

When a large company fires ten thousand people, most of them probably don’t deserve to be fired. They were doing what they were told to do, on the edges, following instructions. They were following the wrong bird!

6. Very good is the opposite of something remarkable

Notable ideas are much more likely to spread than ideas that are not. Fewer and fewer people are creating memorable things.


The reason, according to Godin, would be the belief that the opposite of the notable is bad or mediocre. So, if they do something very good, they confuse it with a super achievement, worthy of viralization.

However, he stresses that this is not a discussion about quality.

If you travel and the airline offers comfort, as usual, you will not find anything too much of the flight. It will be like any other trip. It is what you already expected the company to offer.

Now, if something unexpected happened, you would notice.

If for some reason the company offered an unusual gift, that would be remarkable for you and probably worthy of a post on social media.

The “very good” is what happens on a daily basis and will hardly be mentioned!

“Purple Cow: Transform your business by being remarkable” was the first book I borrowed from the WAUContent library (yes, we have a library! =]) and reading made me reflect a lot on career, business and entrepreneurship.

Which was the last book you read?