How to be a Purple Cow

March 2, 2008

Huh?! If you haven’t ever heard this term before, you need to run (yes, run don’t walk) and by Seth Godin’s book, “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable”.

Imagine driving down a beautiful rural highway when suddenly you see the most extraordinary cow. He’s big, muscular, black and white (like most cows we see) – but he is truly remarkable, unlike any “normal” cow we’ve ever seen. Well, we take note. As we continue to drive we see a few more of these “remarkable” cows. As we see more and more of them, the become less remarkable until we no longer notice them at all.

No imagine that this cow is a bright shiny purple – I think it would be something that we’d  never forget. This is  exactly Seth’s idea.

I started thinking about Seth’s Purple Cow after reading his blog post titled “How to title stuff“.

He gives us 3 ways:

  1. Pick a completely descriptive, generic, boring name that precisely describes what’s inside. Like “Shredded Wheat” or “12 Ways to Get Traffic to Your Blog. This is the one  that Google likes. . .
  2. Pick a more clever name that’s designed to entice the reader to read the subtitle, or the first few lines of your post. Your visitor likes this one. . .
  3. Pick a name that gets talked about. To create a phrase that you hope will enter the vocabulary.

Now I usually try a combo of numbers 1 and 2, but number 3 is pretty powerful. Seth’s is famous for coing the “Purple Cow”.

Seth Says: Yes, that’s my strategy. My goal is to have people call something a Purple Cow or eviscerate the boss for suggesting yet another Meatball Sundae.

Yes, he coined the  term “Meatball Sundae”.

If  for some reason you don’t know about Seth Godin, you are doing yourself a disservice, seek him out, pay attention and learn.

Coming up with a clever title for something you are doing might be one way. Being innovative in the way you do business is something far more powerful!

In his book Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, Seth Godin says that the key to success is to find a way to stand out–to be the purple cow in a field of monochrome Holsteins. Godin himself may be the best example of how this theory works: The marketing expert is a demigod on the Web, a best-selling author, highly sought after lecturer, successful entrepreneur, respected pundit and high-profile blogger. He is uniquely respected for his understanding of the Internet, and his essays and opinions are widely read and quoted online and off.”

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