The Purple Cow: Why There Are So Few Purple Cows


If being a Purple Cow is such an effective way to break through the clutter, why doesn’t everyone do it?

One reason is that people think the opposite of remarkable is “bad” or “poorly done.” That’s not entirely correct. Not many companies sell things today that are flat-out lousy. Most sell things that are good enough. That’s why the opposite of remarkable is “very good.”

In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins says good is the opposite of great. Very good is an everyday occurrence, hardly worth mentioning, certainly not the basis of breakthrough success. Are you making very good stuff or remarkable stuff?

Some people would like you to believe that there are too few great ideas, that their product or their industry or their company simply can’t support a great idea. That, of course, is not true. Another reason the Purple Cow is so rare is because people are so afraid.

If you are remarkable, then it’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise, ever. The best, the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.

Playing it safe, following the rules, they seem like the best ways to avoid failure. Alas, that pattern is awfully dangerous. The current marketing “rules” will ultimately lead to failure. In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.

The lesson here is simple: The more intransigent your market, the more crowded the marketplace, the busier your customers, the more you need a Purple Cow. Half-measures will fail.

Overhauling the product with dramatic improvements in things that the right customers care about, on the other hand, can have an enormous payoff.

Its time to break the glass window and be innovative, go be the purple cow.


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