Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Purple Cows in the Information Warfare Community? You decide.

SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM SETH GODIN who, incidentally, loves to have his ideas stolen.

Cows (like NIOCs), after you've seen them for a while, can become a little boring. They may be well-bred cows (NIOCs), Six Sigma cows (NIOCs), DIRSUP cows (FIOCs) lit by a beautiful light, but they are still boring. A Purple Cow (NIOC), though: Now, that would really stand out. The essence of the Purple Cow -- the reason it would shine among a crowd of perfectly competent, even undeniably excellent cows (NIOCs)-- is that it would be remarkable. Something remarkable is worth talking about, worth paying attention to. Boring stuff quickly becomes invisible.

Why There Are So Few Purple Cows (NIOCs)

If being a Purple Cow (NIOC) is such an effective way to break through the clutter, why doesn't everyone do it? One reason is that people think the opposite of remarkable is "bad" or "poorly done." They're wrong. Not many companies sell things today that are flat-out lousy. Most sell things that are good enough. That's why the opposite of remarkable is "very good." Very good is an everyday occurrence, hardly worth mentioning -- certainly not the basis of breakthrough success. Are you making very good stuff? How fast can you stop?

Some people would like you to believe that there are too few great ideas, that their product or their industry or their command simply can't support a great idea. That, of course, is absolute nonsense. Another reason the Purple Cow is so rare is because people are so afraid.
If you're remarkable, then it's likely that some people won't like you. That's part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise -- ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.

Playing it safe. Following the rules. They seem like the best ways to avoid failure. Alas, that pattern is awfully dangerous. The current marketing "rules" will ultimately lead to failure. In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.

So it seems that we face two choices: Either be invisible, uncriticized, anonymous, and safe or take a chance at true greatness, uniqueness, and the Purple Cow. The point is simple, but it bears repeating: Boring always leads to failure. Boring is always the riskiest strategy.

Please note: No ordinary cows were harmed during the writing of this post. Though, some feelings were hurt once or twice.


Anonymous said...

Cows are bred for milk, meat, and hide.

Anonymous said...

Likewise for the NIOCs.