Purple Cow

It’s the question that’s on the mind of every business-owner, CEO, and entrepreneur: how do we make our products and services stand out from the crowd?

While this idea has always been relevant to some degree, never before has the fate of our success relied so heavily on distinguishing ourselves from the competition.

What’s the big deal with being remarkable? If something is remarkable, it means it’s worth literally making a remark about. People are going to talk about it. And, in the age of the internet, if people talk about your product or service, it spreads — for free! This word-of-mouth viral marketing is how ideas spread, and businesses bloom.

So how do we make something remarkable? By being exceptionally unique. Because customers now have so much choice, in addition to being inundated with an overwhelming amount of information everyday, being “very good” is no longer good enough. If you offer a product or service that is merely very good (which is still, please take note, an admirable achievement), it will not succeed long-term in today’s market because no one is going to notice it for a sustained period of time.

Consumers don’t care about you at all; they just don’t care. Part of the reason is: they have way more choices than they used to, and way less time. And in a world where we have too many choices and too little time, the obvious thing to do is just ignore stuff that is average and pay attention to things that stand out, that are innovative.

On the other hand, if you create something remarkable, people will absolutely take notice; remarkable ideas rise above the fray.

In his book The Purple Cow, Seth Godin provides a catchy analogy to help us remember how to stand out.

“You’re driving down the road and you see a cow, and you keep driving because you have seen cows before. Cows are invisible. Cows are boring. Who’s going to stop and pull over and say — oh, look, a cow. Nobody.

“But if the cow was purple? You would notice it for a while. The thing that’s going to decide what gets talked about, what gets done, what gets changed, what gets purchased, what gets built is: is it remarkable?”

But this new way of thinking is not about tacking on a last-minute fancy advertising or marketing bow; it’s about building something outstanding from the ground up, producing quality products and services with a built-in remarkable factor.

These ideas are relevant because, as we are in the middle of a seismic shift, traditional schools of thought on business and marketing no longer cut the muster:

For 80 years, you got a job, you did what you were told, and you retired. But the industrial age is going away and the start-up revolution is taking its place. We are totally unprepared, our schools, our systems, our taxes are all built around this notion of doing what you are told. And now we don’t know what to do because it’s a revolution.

If that sounds to you like something of a rally cry — it is. In order to thrive in this new world, we need to think backwards, take initiative, and make our voices heard:

Don’t wait for someone to pick you. Pick yourself.

Are you taking the lead to make your business remarkable? If not, what’s stopping you? The world needs more innovations, we need more of what Seth calls purple cows and make sure yours leaves a lasting, unique impression.

It doesn’t matter whether you own a building or own a big company, you can make an impact if you want to.

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