Sheep Get Eaten

Sheep get eaten. That’s just a fact. In the world of business marketing, those who try to follow everybody else and be the same will get gobbled up by the Wolf of Anonymity.

This is why you should not aspire to be a sheep and to follow everybody else. Create your own identity – don’t borrow what you think is a “close-enough fit” and try to wear it. The attractive businesses and the attractive people are those that stand out, that catch our eye, that make us comment.

The best example of this is Seth Godin’s game-changing marketing bible – Purple Cow. If you have not read it yet – you should. Now. You can buy it here.

Seth himself has written a great article on Fast Company about the essence of Purple Cow, which is to stand out and be remarkable. If you pass cow after cow after cow on a long drive through the countryside, all those brown or black and white cows are going to look pretty boring after the first few seconds. But if you saw another cow – and it was purple…   …that cow would stand out from all the others and you would probably tell your friends about it too.

There are many extra benefits to adopting a ‘Purple Cow’ attitude too. You will probably create a buzz of excitement about the workplace that you didn’t realise was missing before. People who have been in the job for years can rediscover their passion and remember why they got into this line of work in the first place. If your whole company became a vibrant, positive place to work overnight – do you think you would see any benefits in your figures? Of course you would. People work better when they enjoy it and harder when they care about it. Your productivity will spike.

So quit being a sheep – a purple cow is a far more successful business animal and much more fun besides. Read Seth’s 10 points on how to raise a Purple Cow:


Making and marketing something remarkable means asking new questions — and trying new practices. Here are 10 suggestions.

  1. Differentiate your customers. Find the group that’s most profitable. Find the group that’s most likely to influence other customers. Figure out how to develop for, advertise to, or reward either group. Ignore the rest. Cater to the customers you would choose if you could choose your customers.
  2. 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 that does nothing but appeal to that market?
  3. Create two teams: the inventors and the milkers. Put them in separate buildings. Hold a formal ceremony when you move a product from one group to the other. Celebrate them both, and rotate people around.
  4. Do you have the email addresses of the 20% of your customer base that loves what you do? If not, start getting them. If you do, what could you make for them that would be superspecial?
  5. Remarkable isn’t always about changing the biggest machine in your factory. It can be the way you answer the phone, launch a new brand, or price a revision to your software. Getting in the habit of doing the “unsafe” thing every time you have the opportunity is the best way to see what’s working and what’s not.
  6. Explore the limits. What if you’re the cheapest, the fastest, the slowest, the hottest, the coldest, the easiest, the most efficient, the loudest, the most hated, the copycat, the outsider, the hardest, the oldest, the newest, or just the most! If there’s a limit, you should (must) test it.
  7. Think small. One vestige of the TV-industrial complex is a need to think mass. If it doesn’t appeal to everyone, the thinking goes, it’s not worth it. No longer. Think of the smallest conceivable market and describe a product that overwhelms it with its remarkability. Go from there.
  8. Find things that are “just not done” in your industry, and then go ahead and do them. For example, JetBlue Airways almost instituted a dress code — for its passengers! The company is still playing with the idea of giving a free airline ticket to the best-dressed person on the plane. A plastic surgeon could offer gift certificates. A book publisher could put a book on sale for a certain period of time. Stew Leonard’s took the strawberries out of the little green plastic cages and let the customers pick their own. Sales doubled.
  9. Ask, “Why not?” Almost everything you don’t do has no good reason for it. Almost everything you don’t do is the result of fear or inertia or a historical lack of someone asking, “Why not?”
  10. What would happen if you simply told the truth inside your company and to your customers?


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