I recently finished the novel “Purple Cow”, by Seth Godin. I highly recommend it – its message has already impacted how I view creating products. Godin is a fairly well known expert on marketing, especially on the Internet. The book is a must read for anyone that is a service provider, has their own product, or is marketing. It’s going to hit you like a ton of bricks.
The premise of the book (and where the title comes from) is this. Suppose you’re driving through the country. It’s beautiful. All of the cows you see perfectly complement the scene. But after you’ve seen cow after cow for twenty miles, you don’t even look at them. But you’d notice a purple cow, wouldn’t you?
Pretty simple. But are you really taking that message to heart? We have to design remarkable products, to create in such a way that our inventions stand out. If you design something that blends in with everything else, it will never sell. So much clutter exists, in both products and services. Why should a consumer choose yours? You’ve got to find that purple cow. You must find a way to be different than your competition.
Godin frequently mentions what he terms the “idea-virus”. Your product should be so remarkable that people are going to talk about. And if people talk about it, it’s going to spread from one individual to the next. If you create a product or service for the masses, it will never sell. But if you target a specific niche audience, your product is much more likely to make an impact. These first consumers are “early adopters”. If they become champions and fans of your idea and service, they’ll talk about it. And your product or service will begin to sell itself. Target these niches. I love that Godin talked about being specific. You should design with a consumer group in mind – not simply the hope or vague idea that it will benefit someone.
If you create a remarkable product or service, it’s going to have to be different. And that means subjecting yourself to criticism and backlash. But taking that risk is highly necessary. According to Godin, it’s impossible to be successful today without doing so.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 25 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight, a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas and the skills needed to succeed. You can ask questions and get advice on the inventRight forum, check out the resource center, and listen to the weekly radio show on inventing.