Review of Purple Cow

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Purple Cow book summary


8 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

7 Style


Seth Godin made his name and, more relevantly, his brand, as an alternative thinker in marketing and sales. His books – which include the bestsellers Tribes and Linchpin – sought to remake conventional marketing into the new paradigm that the Internet world requires. His style is punchy and upbeat. The prose on the page scans like the transcript of a long speech or a TED Talk. Godin punctuates his giddy, up-and-at-’em advice with big, bold-type calls-to-action that encourage you to click onto his website to gain greater insight into the obvious point he just made. This grows tiresome and undermines his credibility. Though he scatters in worthwhile one-sentence advice nuggets, Purple Cow resembles a direct-mail ad for Godin as a speaker more than a cogent collection of advice. It functions foremost as a Godin brand-builder, but getAbstract recommends it for its second role: a guide to reshaping your marketing and your business. Given the unrelenting enthusiasm and irresistible momentum of his Twitter-style sentences, Godin must be electrifying behind a podium. He certainly is easy to read and digest, and that’s already a big accomplishment in today’s business-advice scrum. In Purple Cow, he offers an elementary if encouragingly cheerleading look at advertising, PR and marketing.

About the Author

Marketing guru Seth Godin is former VP of direct marketing at Google. His 18 bestsellers have been published in more than 35 languages. Tribes was an Amazon, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek bestseller. His other titles include Linchpin, Poke the Box, We Are All Weird, V Is for Vulnerable and What to Do When It’s Your Turn.


The “Cow” in the Title

Godin encourages you to create or find a purple cow. The metaphor harks back to the kiddie nonsense poem published by writer Gelett Burgess in 1895: “I never saw a purple cow, I never hope to see one; But I can tell you, anyhow, I’d rather see than be one.” Only now, you do want to be one, at least in your marketing. Your product must become and remain a conversation-provoking anomaly, as distinctive and different from its rivals as possible.

Urging firms to manufacture unique, remarkable products is like insisting that your local National Football League team go win the Super Bowl – a worthy goal, but hardly available for the asking. Godin cites the “P’s of traditional marketing: “product, pricing, promotion, positioning, publicity, packaging, pass-along” and “permission,” but those P’s pale compared with creating a purple cow.

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