This is the second part of a three-part series about three books that can help you significantly improve your business’s performance. Read the first article.

Purple Cow
Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
By Seth Godin

How will these ideas help you?
The world is full of boring products and “me too” marketing. Running a safe company with a very good product is bad in today’s business environment. Think about the horse race that is the US car market. Manufacturers produce very good cars that sell approximately the same number of units each year as similar cars sold by competitors.  Margins are small because manufactures and dealerships compete on price, marketing/awareness, and the release of new models. 
Every once in a while, a car manufacturer releases a purple cow. When Volkswagen re-released the Beetle in 1998, you heard about it all year from friends and family. People pointed them out to others in the car when driving. Volkswagen’s design team created a remarkable product that generated a lot of attention and awareness (and allowed them to charge a premium for this small car).
Defy your market by focusing on creating and selling something that is worthy of being talked about (note: this book is not about creating marketing campaigns that generate buzz, but products and services that inherently get your target audience talking about you to each other). The result is an idea or product that spreads across your market at relatively little marketing cost to you. 
If you have what it takes to develop and launch a remarkable offering, you’ll find yourself atop a business that has more leads, customers, and media attention that you would have if you quadrupled your marketing budget. If your offering is not remarkable today, reevaluate (or retire) your product, rethink your strategy, or realign your marketing and product management team’s methodologies to develop products that solve key problems in your market in a remark-worthy way. Be critical and don’t kid yourself or whitewash your conclusion. If you don’t take the risks involved in creating products and services that stand out, prepare for a long, expensive slog through years of slow growth and unnecessarily hard-fought sales.
Example: I recently read about the new Word Lens app for Apple’s iPhone. It helps vacationers and business travelers translates signs and printed words from one language to another by pointing your iPhone’s camera at the words. The translated text can then be seen ion your iPhone’s screen.That evening, as my wife and I discussed our days, I included the discovery of this innovation in my rundown. 
The primary problem this app solves is not novel. Foreign language dictionaries and translation tools have been available since the month the iPhone App Store was launched. However, the way that Word Lens uses augmented reality to solve their market’s problem is remarkable…a true purple cow (for the time being).
I have never noticed or commented on any type of language software in my career. There is a reason for this. They have all been “brown cows.” If Word Lens were a boring “brown cow” app, you wouldn’t be reading about it right now. The facts that I brought this purple cow up to my wife, I’ll surely mention it to friends and colleagues who are traveling, and I’m writing about it now make this an excellent example of a purple cow, a product so different that I chose to remark on it to others at no cost to the company who developed the app.
Which impactful books would you add to this holiday wish list?
Read the final article of this three-part series. Subscribe to this blog with your RSS reader or email (upper right corner), or follow me on Twitter to be notified of new posts.