Be the Purple Cow

I recently had the chance to attend Hubspot's massive annual marketing conference, Inbound 2015, and came away with quite a few insights. One of the most enduring images of the week was that of the rare and beautiful Great North American Purple Cow. What's that? You've never heard of a purple cow before? Allow me to enlighten you.

In 2003, marketing guru and inbound darling Seth Godin release his book entitled (what else?) Purple Cow. It was built around the concept that the greatest and most important challenge in the marketing and operation of your company is to transform it into something truly remarkable.

Imagine yourself driving down a country road. That Bob Seger/George Jones/Brittany Spears/Jay-Z song you love is blasting and you're feeling good. Up ahead on your right you notice a large field and there on the grass are hundreds of cows grazing, living their lives, and thinking about cow things (like going to the moo-vies). You drive by and gawk at them for a minute but they all look alike and soon the pastoral beauty of the whole scene just feels, well, boring. You could drive by a dozen of these fields and the cows would be all but invisible.

Now, imagine driving down that same road, the same song is on the radio and the same pasture is up ahead, only this time you don't simply drive by. Something catches your attention and you pull over to the side of the road. Are your eyes deceiving you, or is that a purple cow!?!? You pull out your phone and take a picture. You tweet it to your friends, you blog about it, you tell your mother, and when Halloween rolls around you paint your dog purple and take him out trick or treating. Ok, maybe you don't do that last one but you get my point.

A purple cow is out of the ordinary. It's memorable, buzzworthy, and most of all, a purple cow is remarkable. As marketers, we must strive to position the brands we work with in a way that promotes what makes them stand out from the pack and then target users who will spread the word to their friends, family and networks until the cows come home (sorry).

The takeaway for brands is that not only must your marketing be unique but your product itself should be truly outstanding. As Godin says, "Today, the one sure way to fail is to be boring. Your one chance for success is to be remarkable." In this digital age where consumers have more choice than ever, the time for "good enough” is over and the age of the exceptional is upon us.


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