The Purple Cow that’s Right Underneath Your Business’ Nose

by Marcus Sheridan

purple cow10 years ago, Seth Godin published a book—Purple Cow— that in many ways has become a classic in the marketing world. The book’s main message was based on the idea of being so remarkable(or unique) as a business that people can’t help but to notice you—just as someone would stop in their tracks if they noticed a purple cow in a field as they were driving down the road.

Since that work, I’ve heard many businesses talk about how they could become a Purple Cow in their industry, and each time the subject has come up, I’ve shook my head, as the answer is right underneath their nose,  but they simply aren’t seeing the forest through the trees.

Simply put, the easiest (and most effective) Purple Cow available to every business in the world is transparency.

Yep, transparency.

And although you may feel the subject of “transparency” isn’t very exciting or earth-shattering, I’d beg to differ.

I say this because transparency is the great divide in the world of marketing and branding today.

The businesses that do it get results. The businesses that shun it, get left behind.

Let’s just look at a couple of examples:

Dominos resurrected their entire brand and market share by telling the world, “You said our Pizza stinks. We have heard your complaints, and we’ve changed.”

dominoes oh yes we did

Samsung took a chunk out of the iPhone’s dominant market position by producing brutally honest comparison-based videos on how their phone’s features compared to the iPhone.

YouTube Preview Image

Web hosting company WP Engine has managed to become one of the most trusted hosting sources for WordPress users by essentially telling anyone that reads their stuff, “We ain’t cheap. In fact, for hosting services, we’re expensive. But we’re the best, and that’s exactly why people love us.”


On their website, WP Engine openly discusses their higher prices.

CarMax has reinvented the way used cars are sold because of no haggle pricing, a 5-day money back guarantee, and an incredible quality checklist on every car they sell—all things that were unheard of in the used car industry not too long ago.

CarMax honesty

CarMax is changing the way people view the phrase “used car salesman.”

And as everyone has heard me talk about until I was blue in the face, River Pools became the voice of the fiberglass pool industry because we addressed subjects like “Problems with Fiberglass Pools” and “Manufacturer Comparisons” and “Competitor Review Articles.”

Most companies would never think about writing competitor review articles...

Most companies would never think about writing competitor review articles…

I could go on and on with the examples of businesses that have done amazing things to build their brand in the digital age through the power of transparency, but I’m sure you get my point.

When it comes to purple cows (being remarkable) my friends, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to make magic. In fact, I’d sum it up in 3 simple steps:

1. Identify what’s right and wrong with your industry, and then be brave enough to talk about it.

2. Understand the hard questions everyone is asking in your industry, and then be relentless in your efforts to teach about it.

3. Take what you feel is your “secret sauce,” and then be bold enough to show it.

That’s it folks. Do this and you’ll be in a class by yourself.

And not only that, but you’ll build your brand, your business, and your bottom line in the process.

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