Purple Cow

I read Godin’s blog regularly and I like his take on things. This book is about creating remarkable products and services. In fact, the subtitle is “Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.”

According to Godin, we are past the age of the TV-industrial complex. This is Godin’s term for the “symbiotic relationship between consumer demand, TV advertising, and ever-growing companies that were built around investments in ever-increasing marketing expenditures.”

You can’t win this way any longer. We are too smart to be fooled by advertising nowadays. You have to be better at marketing than thinking of catchy slogans or funny commercials. Godin’s solution is to do some remarkable marketing. That is “the art of building things worth noticing right into your product or service. Not slapping on marketing as a last-minute add-on, but understanding that if your offering itself isn’t remarkable, it’s invisible.”

So he has 145 pages in a sort of stream-of-consciousness presentation of how to do remarkable things. I learned a lot of very useful concepts from it.

One great concept that he brings up often is that of otaku. It’s a Japanese word that’s used to describe something that is “more than a hobby but a little less than an obsession.” He gives examples, but for me, otaku is getting up at 4:30am and driving two and a half hours into Wisconsin to play a golf course that I heard was something special and driving back the same day. This is not obsessive, but it does show a keen appreciation for the game of golf. I have golf otaku. About this, Godin says:

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.

Ahh, I like otaku. I think I need to make it a regular part of my vocabulary. It ranks up there with another fine Japanese phrase; hara hachi bu, which means “eat only until you are 80% full.” That’s from Okinawa. I’m also a heavy user of Mizuno products. I need to make a visit to Japan because I think I would fit in well there. But I digress.

Godin has case studies and examples to illustrate all of his points. Sometimes he treads dangerously close to oversimplification and hyperbole. He says things like it’s “so popular, no one goes there anymore.” Or “marketers no longer: now we’re designers.” He does back these up though with examples and thoughtful discussion so you can filter out his bias and get the point.

I thought it was a great book and a ton of fun to read. I strongly suggest that you at least subscribe to his blog, if you don’t buy one of his books, so you can get a feel for how he thinks through things. He is certainly a thought leader in the the area of marketing.

I’m gong to finish this take with one of the last paragraphs in his book. He says:

Remember, it’s not about being weird. It’s about being irresistible to a tiny group of easily reached sneezers with otaku. Irresistible isn’t the same a ridiculous. Irresistible (for the right niche) is just remarkable.

I don’t know, with my web presence, I wonder if I’m thought of as weird. What’s that damn fool finance guy doing writing about food, books, golf, and weight loss? Eventually, I will pour out my takes on finance and controllership at my consulting site, but first, I have a lot of stuff to get off my chest.