Risky behavior

Find Out Why Playing It Safe Is the Riskiest Business Strategy

I’m not 100% (as the kiddos say) sure what first compelled me to pick up that intriguing, small, purple book. Perhaps it was the book’s modest size that attracted me – I must admit, I wasn’t an avid reader at the time and let’s be real, I’ve never been, but the thought of a shorter book seemed less Purple Cowdaunting. Or, it may have been my love for milk that allowed me to be drawn in by the eye-catching cow pattern on the cover. Even the subhead, which spoke of transforming “YOUR” business by being remarkable, raised my interest even more. No matter what sparked my interest, I am glad it did.

The year was 2005, maybe 2006. I was running my own marketing agency, the Blue Marlin Group. I was surrounded by some of the most talented and creative people I have ever worked with. Past their incredible talent, they were remarkable people. Each team member was unique and shaped by their own life experiences. This group of individuals was so dedicated to their craft that created amazing marketing and advertising for our clients, days often got away from us.

“What does that have to do with a book?”

“Glad you asked.”

I had grabbed a copy of the ‘Purple Cow’ and was transfixed at what I read. Yeah, a lot of it was due to conformation bias, but mostly because I hadn’t heard the comments so succinctly articulated, especially by a marketing legend. I wrote notes in the margins and couldn’t wait to share it with my team.

Ultimately, I passed it around to my team members and asked them to write their comments in the margin as well. My copy of the ‘Cow’ with the comments from these awesome people is one of the most cherished memoirs I have from that time.

At this point, you may be pondering, “Why should this matter to me?” That’s a fantastic question!

The simple answer is, “Because I said so.”

But with that aside, I wanted to share the top 7 takeaways from the ‘Purple Cow’.


Numero Uno: Be Remarkable

The main idea from the ‘Purple Cow’ is your product or service must be worthy of people talking about it. Your product or service needs to stand out like a purple cow would in a field of Holstein or Jersey Cows.

“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.” – Seth Godin


Numero Dos: Safe is Risky

Seth Godin argues that in our rapidly evolving world, playing it safe could actually be the riskiest strategy.

“The safe path is the risky one, BECAUSE it’s likely to lead you to a crowded place, filled with similar products.” – Seth Godin

*Look even Seth uses ‘Because.’*


Numero Tres: Design Rules Now

You should design for remarkable from the get-go. Design and innovation are key aspects of creating successful products.

“Design rules now, not the sort of design that you can see, but the design that you engage with. It’s design on steroids.” – Seth Godin


Numero Quatro: Find Your Niche

It’s more beneficial to captivate a smaller, passionate audience that will champion your product or service, rather than targeting a wider market of indifferent customers just for the cash.

“The old rule was this: create safe, ordinary products and combine them with great marketing. The new rule is: create remarkable products that the right people seek out.” – Seth Godin


Numero Cinco: Understand Your Target Audience

Echoing the point made in Numero Quatro, it’s essential you understand your clients and customers, and focus your efforts on delivering to them specifically.

“Sell what people are buying… Understand that what people are buying is probably not what you’re selling.” – Seth Godin


Numero Seis: Create Remarkable Experiences

You should strive to deliver an exceptional customer experience. By creating a remarkable experience around your product or service, you increase the chances of people talking about it.

“Products that create a sense of wonder, a wow moment and a reason to communicate with others are much more likely to succeed.” – Seth Godin

BONUS QUOTE: “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss


Numero Siete: Promote Idea Viruses

Seth contends that traditional marketing has exceeded its shelf life, proposing ‘idea viruses’ as the modern way to promote your product or service. Design your product or service in a way people can’t help but talk about it.

“The new form of marketing—creating something worth talking about and then getting people to talk about it—is the only form of marketing that has a future.” – Seth Godin


As we put a bow on this edition, it is abundantly clear that the world of marketing is as vibrant and dynamic as ever. Reflecting on the wisdom of others helps us understand the challenges we face, and the wisdom of Rock Stars like Seth Godin can help us navigate challenges and implement effective strategies quickly. So, whether you’re a marketer, milk lover, or someone who just stumbled upon this post, my hope is you walk away with a sense of curiosity and something you can use on your quest.

Fight the urge to be safe! Be Remarkable! Be a Purple Cow!



    • Bart, I enjoy your blogs so much. I apply it to my life as well as my little chicken business. I am definitely a “purple cow”, selling to a small select group. I know they’re chickens, but people “search” for the chickens I sell. Tractor Supply and your local farm do not sell these.
      Besides that, I am amazed at your mind and how funny you are! I enjoy them…keep it up, so proud of you! And, I love the name!!!

      Kim Sanford
      • Kim,

        I am a lifelong learner and love sharing that information with others. My hope, when I began writing, was to create something that might be entertaining, but also informative to others. Your kind words and feedback help to keep me motivated.

        I would love hear how you are using the information and if you feel compelled please share with others. The world needs more “Purple Cows,” mainly “Because I said so.” 🙂

        In other news, I proudly wear my beautiful Sanford Farms t-shirt!

        Red Whiskey Team

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