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on 31 August 2009
Having heard great things about the author, I perhaps had my hopes up too high when I started reading this book. I am half way through it but have had to put it down because I just can't find any golden nuggets that I can use...even though I was desperate to find some! However, if you have never read about marketing, then this is probably an insightful book.
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I first came across Seth Godin and "The Purple Cow" when I read Inbound Marketing by Halligan and Shah, and it's been rather a long time before I've got round to reading it. I confess that I'm a little underwhelmed by it, but perhaps that's just because, ten years after it was first published, so many of Godin's ideas have become mainstream.

The Purple Cow concept is, to start with, a reminder that you should aim to differentiate your product or service. Whether the Purple Cow concept, or this book, really adds anything to the evolving subject of differentiation - USP, value proposition, differential advantage or whatever jargon you choose to use - is a moot point; on balance, I think it does. Godin emphasises the need to take risks, not to be afraid to upset some people to get your core target market really interested and excited, to go beyond the average, the standard. . It's about being remarkable - it's not enough to be different; you need to have a product that the right people - the early adopters - will enthuse about. Interestingly, he advises against trying to come up with regular minor improvements - if a product is established, milk that Purple (cash) Cow for all it's worth (actually, to his credit, Godin avoids that pun himself, sorry I couldn't resist) and plan on the next, remarkable "Purple Cow" product. People won't get excited about a minor improvement. The "Purple Cow" is, therefore, a pretty high standard of innovation and customer engagement. Godin gives some good examples, but they are all a little old now - the book is ten years old, and many of the examples were well established even then.

Interestingly, Godin says that he only chose to call his concept "Purple Cow" because it allowed him to add another "P" to the 4Ps, 7Ps or howsoever many "Ps" you think marketers need to consider when planning their strategy - the list that usually starts Product, Place, Price, Promotion... (or at least it did when I was first taught it). Godin uses a host of marketing concepts along the way - there is no doubt that this is the work of a man well versed in conventional marketing theory who is trying to add something new. Again, I think he does, but perhaps not quite so much as the hype suggests.

The second key part of Godin's message, and the one that links him to the Inbound Marketing guys, is that old fashioned, TV and print based advertising, is no longer effective. This is no longer a very radical thought - although it may have been radical, if not entirely original, back in 2002. I did like the concept of the "TV-Industrial Complex" (a play on Eisenhower's Military-Industrial one), which I hadn't come across before.

Godin is a prolific blogger, and I'd not be at all surprised if most of these 75 short "chapters" started as blog articles; committed to print this way, they give the book a slightly disjointed feel. I'm left with the thought that if you like Seth Godin's view of marketing and business, it may be better to read his blog than his books. I'd also recommend his audiobooks - I've taken in the author's more recent Linchpin that way, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs (New Rules Social Media Series)
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on 30 January 2010
Having read Seths blog for a good year at least I think, I finally caved in and got one of his books - I thought it would be a lazy compilation of blog posts over the years, but I was seriously wrong, and I kicked myself for not jumping on his books sooner.

The guy is clearly a genius in marketing, but his writing his so positive and inspirational, I would be surprised if any entrepreneur or marketing worker could not read this book without producing some new ideas or ways to approach their work.

I have subsequently snapped up more of Seths books - "All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World" being particularly good. "Tribes" is also a great read, and I'm eagerly awaiting "Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?" landing on my doormat.

If you have any interest in marketing and the psyche of the consumer, Seths books, blogs or communities (get access to Triiibes if you can) should be an essential part of your daily quest for knowledge.
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on 1 May 2003
Another fantastic offering from Seth Godin. He is the master of marketing, explaining things in easy to understand language, using well known examples.
With practical advice and tips, you could do much worse than read this. Hugely enthusiastic on the subject - it's infectious. I couldn't stop reading it, even missed my train stop!
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on 24 March 2015
Let's get things clear from the start, the idea behind the book is a great one. Probably more so now than when the book was first written. This is a long essay rather than a full in depth text book and in my mind all the better for it. The points are set out in short, easy to read, sections (not chapters) and it makes for a book that you can read easily whilst grabbing a coffee, sitting on the train, etc without having to go back over several pages to remind of the idea that Seth is communicating. What does let the book down is its age. First published in 2002, it feels like it. The many, many business examples used talk about businesses that have been superseded by newer companies that have had their own purple cow moment. Some of the businesses had me searching the Internet to find out about them so I could understand the point Seth is trying to get across. This book needs a new edition with new examples that have more relevance today.
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on 18 November 2014
"Purple Cow" can be read in one sitting, it's that short and that fast paced. Sometimes I felt it was too short though, especially during case studies and examples, where the author could have gone into much deeper analysis about his Purple Cow theory. Some chapters are literally just three paragraphs long.

At times, the book felt dated, especially the chapter about Nokia and Motorola being the kings of the cellphone industry and how cellphones are not exciting anymore. It's scary how fast some industries are changing, and giants of the past are driven to extinction by modern-day Purple Cows of other companies; which is clearly the case in the aforementioned cellphone argument.

Nevertheless, there are some interesting points here. Even if the book leaves you unimpressed, you won't feel like you have invested too much time or money into it.
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on 8 May 2013
A previous reviewer has summarized the book - and I had never gotten around to reading The Purple Cow previously ... although as you can tell by this review - finally I did. I liked the book! It is an easy read and even though it's 10 years after the launch of the book, I think it's still highly relevant.

Whether you run your own business or have an employer if you have an interest in marketing, this is a great little book about creating a product or service that is REMARKABLE.

I haven't given The Purple Cow 5 stars because as a UK reader, the examples are American, and don't easily translate for a UK audience - however a search engine will fill in any missing gaps - although in most of the examples getting the gist is probably enough. The ideas and concepts do translate and are very applicable in the UK.
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on 10 December 2011
Very good book with a lot of good arguments and a lot of examples. The examples are a bit US american, but make the point clear. Completely revises traditional marketing approaches and is still true, even if it was written 5 years ago.
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on 6 November 2013
I like Seth's blog and books, this one too is not bad, but very repetitive. I got a bit bored reading it. May be I am too late to read it now, hence, the boredom. The book itself and its message are not a purple cow to me anymore.
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on 6 October 2009
This for me is one of the best marketing books written. Simple, no jargon and an easy read. Yet it makes the key point of good marketing - stand out from the crowd. I must have bought 30 copies to give to clients - all loved it. Its style was the basis of my book Ethical Marketing & The New Consumer- Ethical Marketing and the New Consumer: Marketing in the New Ethical Economy - easy to read, full of useful information and challenging. Short sections and to the point. Having read so many turgid, dull, waffle packed and dull academic marketing books over the years this was refreshing. Thanks Seth for the inspiration.
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