Not slapping on marketing as a last-minute add-on, but understanding that if your offering itself isn’t remarkable, it’s invisible
The postconsumption consumer is out of things to buy. We have what we need, we want very little, and we’re too busy to spend a lot of time researching something you’ve worked hard to create for us
I believe we’ve now reached the point where we can no longer market directly to the masses
Stop advertising and start innovating
as consumers, we’re too busy to pay attention to advertising, but we’re desperate to find good stuff that solves our problems.
The Pursuit of Wow, a visionary book that described why the only products with a future were those created by passionate people
Too often, big companies are scared companies, and they work to minimize any variation—including the good stuff that happens when people who care create something special
companies win when they treat the attention of their prospects as an asset, not as a resource to be strip-mined and then abandoned.
The vast majority of folks are just too busy and will ignore you, regardless of how many ads you buy
Nobody, no matter how motivated, takes the time to review all five hundred before buying a book on yoga
Most people can’t buy your product. Either they don’t have the money, they don’t have the time, or they don’t want it.
And setting aside the spam issues, even when people do want to hear from you by phone or mail or e-mail, they are less and less likely to take action
Just because you have someone’s e-mail address or phone number doesn’t mean they want to hear from you
ideavirus networks are hard to ignite in markets that are fairly satisfied
There’s too much noise, and consumers are less eager than ever to add to it
agroup’s value is related to its influence.
One way to figure out a great theory is to look at what’s working in the real world and figure out what the various successes have in common
What all of these companies have in common is that they have nothing in common. They are outliers
The leader is the leader because he did something remarkable. And that remarkable thing is now taken—it’s no longer remarkable when you do it.
Just because it’s an ad doesn’t mean it can’t be remarkable
what’s missing isn’t the ideas. It’s the will to execute them
it’s safer to be risky—to fortify your desire to do truly amazing things. Once you see that the old ways have nowhere to go but down, it becomes even more imperative to create things worth talking about.
experiment with inviting the users to change their behavior to make the product work dramatically better.
If a product’s future is unlikely to be remarkable
it’s time to realize that the game has changed
take profits and reinvest them in building something new.
Only the risk-taking, idea-spreading people on the left part of the curve are willing to listen to you.
The sales that matter don’t come until the left part of the curve is completely sold.
the vast majority of the curve ignores you
People in the early and late majority listen to their experienced peers but are going to ignore you. It is so tempting to skip the left and go for the juicy center. But that doesn’t work anymore
First they are purchased by the innovators. These are the people in a given market who like having something first
early adopters. (No, they’re not early adapters
Early adopters are the folks who can actually benefit from using a new product and who are eager to maintain their edge over the rest of the population by seeking out new products and services
this audience is both sizable and willing to spend money
if enough of their peers try it and talk about it, these followers are likely to come along as well.
these people are really good at ignoring you. They have problems that they find far more significant than the ones your product solves, and they’re just not willing to invest the time to listen to you.
they often don’t even listen to the innovators on the left part of the curve
After the early adopters embrace what you’re selling, they are the ones who will sell it to the early majority—not you. And they will sell it poorly
No one is going to eagerly adapt to your product
The only chance you have is to sell to people who like change, who like new stuff, who are actively looking for what it is you sell. Then you hope that the idea spreads, moving from the early adopters to the rest of the curve
You must design a product that is remarkable enough to attract the early adopters—but is flexible enough and attractive enough that those adopters will have an easy time spreading the idea to the rest of the curve
Digital cameras spread because they offer convenience and price advantages over film cameras. Better still, these advantages are obvious, easy to talk about, easy to demonstrate, and just begging to be brought up every time an early adopter sees a laggard pull out a film camera
Ideas That Spread, Win
Abrand (or a new product offering) is nothing more than an idea
Sneezers are the key spreading agents of an ideavirus. These are the experts who tell all their colleagues or friends or admirers about a new product or service on which they are a perceived authority
Finding and seducing these sneezers is the essential step in creating an ideavirus.
The way you break through to the mainstream is to target a niche instead of a huge market
the vast majority of product success stories are engineered from the first day to be successful
it’s about designing the thing to be virus-worthy in the first place
The Purple Cow is not a cheap shortcut. It is, however, your best (perhaps only) strategy for growth.
If anything, marketing is more time-consuming and expensive than it used to be
The big secret of Google ads is that they are both contextually relevant and presented to the type of person who’s likely to act on them
At any given moment, in any given market, some people are all ears. They want to hear from you
IT IS USELESS TO ADVERTISE TO ANYONE (EXCEPT INTERESTED SNEEZERS WITH INFLUENCE
You need to do this advertising when these consumers are actually looking for help, and in a place where they’ll find you
the real win occurs when the person who’s listening is a sneezer likely to tell her friends and colleagues
you must develop products, services, and techniques that the market will actually seek out
To their entrenched (but nervous) competitors, these companies appear to be cheating because they’re not playing by the rules.
You can’t make people listen
Even if someone is listening, your offering of “a little bit cheaper,” “a little bit better,” or “a little bit easier” is just a waste of time
When faced with a market in which no one is listening, the smartest plan is usually to leave
Often, the valuable slices are located to one side or the other
Differentiate your customers. Find the group that’s most profitable. Find the group that’s most likely to sneeze
Your ads (and your products!) shouldn’t cater to the masses. Your ads (and products) should cater to the customers you’d choose if you could choose your customers
As consumers get better and better at ignoring mass media, mass media stops working
a lot of benefits go to the brands that win. Often a lesser brand has no chance at all
By intentionally ignoring the mass market, Chip created something remarkable: a rock-and-roll motel in the center of San Francisco
If you could pick one underserved niche to target (and to dominate), what would it be
Why not launch a product to compete with your own—a product that does nothing but appeal to this market
The Cow is so rare because people are afraid. If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise—ever
In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.
Since just about everyone else is petrified of the Cow, you can be remarkable with even less effort
We’ve been raised with a false belief: We mistakenly believe that criticism leads to failure
Being safe is risky.
You do not equal the project. Criticism of the project is not criticism of you
The greatest artists, playwrights, car designers, composers, advertising art directors, authors, and chefs have all had significant flops—it’s part of what makes their successful work great.
You can’t know if your Purple Cow is guaranteed to work. You can’t know if it’s remarkable enough or too risky. That’s the point
Boring is always the most risky strategy
Smart businesspeople realize this, and they work to minimize (but not eliminate) the risk from the process. They know that sometimes it’s not going to work, but they accept the fact that that’s okay
The ability to lead is thus even more important because when your flock fades away, there may be no other flock handy
What tactics does your firm use that involve following the leader? What if you abandoned them and did something very different instead
The best design solves problems, but if you can weld that to the cool factor, then you have a home run
ads reach two kinds of viewers: • The highly coveted innovators and adopters who will be bored by this mass-marketed product and decide to ignore it. • The early and late majority who are unlikely to listen to an ad for any new product, and are unlikely to buy it if they do.
front-loading of the budget does two things to
means you get very few chances to launch new products because each one is so expensive
It doesn’t give you a chance to ride through the idea diffusion curve
In each case, a fledgling company spent most of its capital on mass marketing. Marketing that came too soon and disappeared before the idea could spread
What would happen if you gave the marketing budget for your next three products to the designers
this sort of data could kill his business
creators of the Purple Cow must measure as well
Companies that measure will quickly optimize their offerings and make them more virus-worthy
the lack of cutting-edge technology is a key part of their success.
Logitech succeeds because management understands that they are in the fashion business
They are, on the other hand, working frantically to create a better user experience.
Logitech doesn’t crave more advertising. They crave more remarkable products
The obvious winners are the mid-sized and smaller companies looking to increase market share
they realize that they have a lot to gain by changing the rules of the game.
As the world gets more turbulent, more and more people seek safety
And most of the people mistakenly believe that the way to do that is to play it safe
So while fewer people attempt to become the Cow, the rewards for being remarkable continue to increase
You don’t have to be remarkable all the time to enjoy the upside
Once you’ve managed to create something truly remarkable, the challenge is to do two things simultaneously: • Milk the Cow for everything it’s worth. Figure out how to extend it and profit from it for as long as possible. • Create an environment where you are likely to invent a new Purple Cow in time to replace the first one when its benefits inevitably trail off
the tempting thing to do is to coast. Take profits. Fail to reinvest
It’s too easy to decide to sit out the next round, rationalizing that you’re spending the time and energy to build on what you’ve got instead of investing in the future.
Is his meat that much better? Probably not. But by turning the process of buying meat into an intellectual and political exercise, Dario has figured out more than one way to make money from a cow—this time, a purple one.
The Opposite of “Remarkable” is “very good.”
if they make something very good, they confuse it with being virus-worthy. Yet this is not a discussion about quality at all. If you travel on an airline and they get you there safely, you don’t tell anyone. That’s what’s supposed to happen. What makes it remarkable is if it’s horrible beyond belief or if the service is so unexpected
The paradox is this: The same word of mouth that can make your product a huge hit can also lead to someone’s snickering at you.
Most companies are so afraid of offending or appearing ridiculous that they steer far away from any path that might lead them to this result
A band (brand?) captures the interest of a small group of sneezers, who tell their friends, and suddenly they’ve got a hit
Big fans bring in new fans, and old fans stick around because they’re catered to
Could you make a collectible version of your product?
Marketing departments often feel a need to justify their existence
All too often, these marketing efforts are the result of a compromise. Either a budget compromise
or a product compromise
Almost without exception, these compromises are worse than doing nothing
If you do nothing, at least you’re not going to short-circuit your existing consumer networks by loading them up with a lot of indefensible junk
But marketing just to keep busy is worse than nothing at all
What would happen if you took one or two seasons off from the new-product grind and reintroduced wonderful classics instead
The more intransigent your market, the more crowded the marketplace, the busier your customers, the more you need the Purple Cow
Products differ, but sneezers and early adopters stay the same.)
Otaku describes something that’s more than a hobby but a little less than an obsession
your company can’t thrive just by fulfilling basic needs. You must somehow connect with passionate early adopters and get those adopters to spread the word through the curve.
Consumers with otaku are the sneezers you seek
They’re the ones who will take the time to learn about your product, take the risk to try your product, and take their friends’ time to tell them about it. The flash of insight is that some markets have more otaku-stricken consumers than others. The task of the remarkable marketer is to identify these markets and focus on them to the exclusion of lesser markets—regardless of relative size
Smart businesses target markets where there’s already otaku
people don’t buy paint; they buy painted walls
marketing done right. Marketing where the marketer changes the product, not the ads
When Krispy Kreme opens in a new town, they begin by giving away thousands of donuts. Of course, the people most likely to show up for a free hot donut are those who have heard the legend of Krispy Kreme and are delighted that they’re finally in town
Krispy Kreme is obsessed with dominating the donut conversation
make it easy for someone to stumble onto the product
some of those lazy people will be converted to the donut otaku. They will start the next wave of Krispy Kreme mania
this probably wouldn’t work with bagels or brownies
find the market niche first, and then make the remarkable product—not the other way around
There is no plan
there’s no rule book listing things that always produce
The system is pretty simple: Go for the edges. Challenge yourself and your team to describe what those edges are (not that you’d actually go there), and then test which edge is most likely to deliver the marketing and financial results you seek
reviewing every other P—your pricing, your packaging, and so forth—you sketch out where your edges are... and where your competition is
Do you have a slogan or positioning statement or remarkable boast that’s actually true? Is it consistent? Is it worth passing on?
A slogan that accurately conveys the essence of your Purple Cow is a script. A script for the sneezer to use when she talks with her friends
position itself in a coherent way and make it easy to spread the word to others
There’s nothing to complicate the message.
The marketing is the product, and vice versa
If you’re in an intangibles business, your business card is a big part of what you sell
It’s a lot easier to sell something that people are already in the mood to buy.
Consumers with needs are the ones most likely to respond to your solutions
you need to figure out who’s buying, and then solve their problem
The alternative is to start with a problem that you can solve for your customer (who realizes he has a problem!). Then, once you’ve come up with a solution that is so remarkable that the early adopters among this population will gleefully respond, you’ve got to promote it in a medium where those most likely to sneeze are actually paying attention
compromise can only diminish your chances of success
Compromise is about sanding down the rough edges to gain buy-in from other constituencies
Vanilla is a compromise ice cream flavor, while habanero pecan is not.
You can’t build a fast-growing company around vanilla
The real growth comes with products that annoy, offend, don’t appeal, are too expensive, too cheap, too heavy, too complicated, too simple—too something. (Of course, they’re too too for some people, but just perfect for others
In almost every market, the boring slot is filled
How can you market yourself as “more bland than the leading brand
If someone in your organization is charged with creating a new Purple Cow, leave them alone
Give people an e-mail address to write to. Write back. You’re on your way.
many consumers don’t change their roles very often
Get permission from people you impressed the first time
Permission to alert them the next time you might have another Cow.
Work with the sneezers in that audience to make it easier for them to help your idea cross the chasm
Once you’ve crossed the line from remarkable to profitable business, let a different team milk it.
don’t believe your own press releases.
Reinvest. Do it again. With a vengeance
Assume that what was remarkable last time won’t be remarkable this time
If a company is failing, it is the fault of the most senior management, and the problem is probably this: They’re running a company, not marketing a product.
It used to be that Engineering invented, Manufacturing built, Marketing marketed, and Sales sold. There was a clear division of labor, and the president managed the whole shebang. The marketer got a budget and she bought ads with it.
Marketing was really better called “advertising
Companies that create Purple Cows
have to be run by marketers
Go take a design course. Send your designers to a marketing course. And both of you should spend a week in the factory
The person with real influence on the success of a product today gets to sit at the table when the original seeds for a project are being sown.
Model the behavior (not mimic the product
Where does remarkable come from? Often, it comes from passionate people who are making something for themselves
The number-one question about the Purple Cow is, “How do I know it’s remarkable?” This question almost always comes from the people who don’t have the otaku
Everyone who works at Patagonia is an outdoor nut
Sometimes, in the middle of all the tumult of work, it’s easy to forget that we’re making something for people who care
learn the art of projecting
Marketers and designers who do it can put themselves into other people’s shoes and imagine what they’d want
sooner or later your gut will let you down
If you haven’t developed the humility that comes from being able to project to multiple audiences, you’re likely to panic when you can’t connect to your chosen group any longer.
learn the science of projecting
build a discipline of launching products, watching, measuring, learning, and doing it again
The marketers who are practicing the science of projecting what people want don’t have a particular bias or point of view. Instead, they understand the process and will take it wherever it goes
Is there someone (a person, an agency?) in your industry who has a track record of successfully launching remarkable products
Outrageous is not always remarkable
Being scandalous might work on occasion, but it’s not a strategy; it’s desperation. The outrageousness needs to have a purpose, and it needs to be built into the product
Try being outrageous, just for the sake of being annoying. It’s good practice
What would happen if you told the truth
Most big companies think that marketing is in crisis. They see that what they used to do doesn’t work the way it used to. They want to protect their huge investment in infrastructure, and they believe that fixing their marketing is the answer.
if you don’t have time to do it right, what makes you think you’ll have time to do it over
At first, this looked like a longer, slower way to make their business grow, but in retrospect, it was a lot faster (and a lot cheaper) than running a bunch of boring ads and staying just where they were.
Getting in the habit of doing the “unsafe” thing every time you have the opportunity is the best way to learn to project
The problem with cheap is that once you start, your competitor will likely play the same game
Cheap is the last refuge of a product developer or marketer who is out of great ideas
your resume is likely to land on the desk of someone with no interest whatsoever in you or what you’re up to. Worse, it’s unlikely that this strategy will lead to much word of mouth
Remarkable people with remarkable careers seem to switch jobs with far less effort. Remarkable people often don’t even have a resume
Remarkable people are often recruited from jobs they love to jobs they love even more
It has to do with what these people do when they’re not looking for a job
These Purple Cows do an outrageous job. They work on high-profile projects
These people take risks, often resulting in big failures. These failures rarely lead to a dead end, though. They’re not really risks, after all. Instead, they just increase the chances that these people will get an even better project next time.
Your references are your resume
focus on the narrowest possible niche
Target has realized that by offering exclusive items that would be cool at any price—but that are amazing when they’re cheap—they can win without a big ad budget. Cool products that appeal to people who both buy new stuff and talk about it a lot are the core of Target’s strategy
The Purple Cow is just part of the product life cycle. You can’t live it all the time (too risky, too expensive, too tiring), but when you need to grow or need to introduce something new, it’s your best shot.
Does the work matter
No, you just have to realize that nothing else is working
You don’t need passion to create a Purple Cow. Nor do you need an awful lot of creativity. What you need is the insight to realize that you have no other choice but to grow your business or launch your product with Purple Cow thinking. Nothing else is going to work
It’s about being irresistible to a tiny group of easily reached sneezers with otaku
Is your product the best at anything worth measuring?
there aren’t too many unexplored areas of innovation—just unexplored combinations
Having something personalized can make one feel special
The act of making something very expensive and very custom is in itself remarkable.
The fact that the Volvo was widely considered to be ugly was the perfect conversation starter. The fact that you’ve heard this story a hundred times before proves that it works.
just to know they could.
Because the remarkable nature of the larger jackpot gets people talking about it and dreaming about winning
WHEN A PRODUCT OR SERVICE is about risk avoidance
When someone has a problem like this, he is extremely open to external marketing messages, and he will seek out and usually find someone who presents him with the lowest possible downside.
You have to go where the competition is not. The further the better
Explore the limits
Think of the smallest conceivable market, and describe a product that overwhelms it with its remark-ability
Without the filters of advertising, wholesalers, and retailers, you can create products that are far more remarkable
Copy. Not from your industry, but from any other industry
Identify a competitor who’s generally regarded as at the edges, and outdo them
Paddi created a place where customers want to come and he wants to work by setting up systems based on high standards of courtesy and politeness