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Milking Purple Cows

Posted on September 27, 2011 @ 9:00 AM in Uncategorized

“Do purple cows give chocolate milk?”

What an odd question for our math teacher to have asked us! Some of us immediately scoffed, “No way!” while the more thoughtful among us stroked our chins, pondered it deeply and believed anything might be possible.

It was an exercise in logic. One of those “Catch-22”, damned-if-you-do-or-don’t scenarios because, no matter which answer you gave, the response depended absolutely on the very existence of a purple cow in the first place.

Have you ever SEEN a purple cow? If not, then how could you know for sure that it would NOT give chocolate milk? And if you HAVE seen a purple cow, did you milk it and get chocolate?

(Keep in mind this was in the ‘60s. If you had seen a purple cow, you were ingesting something stronger than milk…)

This was many years before marketing master, Seth Godin, came along and penned his book, The Purple Cow. Now there are purple cows in business everywhere, although the herd is much thinner than Mr. Godin would like.

What IS a Purple Cow?

Simply put, it’s a remarkable animal. One that really IS outstanding in its field and commands your notice. At least until that inevitable day when there are so many of them, the original one is lost again in the crowd and is forced to reinvent itself.

Apple. Nike. Starbucks. Nordstrom’s. IKEA. These are among today’s better known purple cows. Seth’s book also talks about much less famous companies that sell unusual products, such as the world’s loudest car sound system or the most expensive yo-yos.

He contends that the days of mass marketing to a homogenous middle-of-the-road group are over.

Every business owner is a potential purple cow. Why? Because we all have unique talents, skills and experiences no one else on Earth has.

Rather than trying to conform or fit the mould and be all things to all people, we should be celebrating – and promoting – our very purpleness.

Someone recently asked me why I didn’t want to register my house (circa 1834) as a heritage home. Several reasons.

I don’t want to be listed in a tourism brochure or have any more strangers appear at my door than I already have.

Most of all, I don’t want the members of some faceless commission telling me I can’t paint my door purple. Or Enzepplopedia orange (which I have done – see picture).

Tell us about the last time you saw a purple cow.
What can you do to make your business remarkable?

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