Making Purple Cows Sneeze

January 19, 2007 Book Reviews 4 comments

Purple Cow Making Cows Sneeze

Lately, I have been reading a little more than usual. Have only just picked up Purple Cow by Seth Godin.

It isn’t exactly brand new but some of its insights are still worth considering.

The key premise is how aggressive marketing communications alone is no longer enough.

You need to develop products that stand out from the competition – his proverbial purple cow as opposed to brown cows which are a dime a dozen. This would mean going to extremes, going after the less obvious, and getting people interested. Not through carpet bombing advertising but Word-of-Mouth fan engagement.

Instead of being perfect, you should seek to be remarkable. This means being a pioneer of something radically different yet desirable.

Especially interesting is this concept of reaching the “sneezers” which Godin has coined. Sneezers are the connectors, mavens and salesmen cited by Malcolm Gladwell in his Tipping Point theory. These are the guys who will help to spread the word to the rest of the population, and hence useful to engage and mobilise in any Word Of Mouth campaign.

Rather than try to reach and interest everybody in the population, you should concentrate on the sneezers, especially those who are Early Adopters. The concept of Early Adopters come from the Diffusion of Innovations theory first developed by Everett Rogers in 1962. Essentially, Rogers separates the population into different categories as follows:

1) Innovators – venturesome, educated, multiple info sources, greater propensity to take risk
2) Early Adopters – social leaders, popular, educated
3) Early Majority – deliberate, many informal social contacts
4) Late Majority – skeptical, traditional, lower socio-economic status
5) Laggards – neighbours and friends are main info sources, fear of debt

They follow a bell-shaped curve as shown:

Courtesy of

If you want your marketing efforts to work, you should ensure that your product is spectacular first of all. Thereafter look at ways and means to get the Early Adopters – who are usually opinion leaders and shapers – to embrace it.

If their experiences are positive, they will share with their friends and associates and your product or service will “diffuse” to the rest of the population, your marketing efforts will reap stunning success, and you will become a millionaire before 40.

Sounds too easy don’t you think? The devil is in the details as they say, and I wonder if there are such “Purple Cow” stories in Singapore. Anybody has views to share?

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. hi! thanks for dropping by. hope i have not offended you by linking you to my blog without your consent?! anyway, i found your blog through Veron’s blog, both of which i find interesting to read (i read about yr vivocity adventure first).

    yes, i should start preparing myself physically & mentally for my daughter to enter that stage!

  2. Not at all Sue. In fact, thanks for linking me! I will also link to your blog. One of the things that I periodically blog about is parenting Ethan, which is something close to my heart. It will be interesting to meet other young parent bloggers too.

  3. The early adopters, that’s what we are doing with our Optical shop. Located in an old shopping mall where there’s hardly any walk-in customers, we rely on regulars & through word-of-mouth.

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