Tips on writing a best-selling book on marketing

I read a book by Seth Godin called the Purple Cow. The Purple Cow being a metaphor for doing something bold in your marketing. It’s a few years old now and I learned some valuable facts (Shaquille O’Neil spent $100,000 on a motor cycle. Boy did he go up in my estimation!) but really, the most important thing I learned was how to sell marketing books.

1. Find out the names of some businesses that are outstandingly successful. This is not tricky; you can look in business magazines. Get lots of names because that way you can keep each article to about two pages. A whole book about one company will be too boring.

2. Invent a magic word. One is best, two is okay but three is probably too many for people to remember. Seth used “Purple Cow”. Put the magic word(s) in the title of the book.

3. Analyse the SUCCESS of the businesses. Note that there is only ever ONE reason for a company being successful. More than one reason would take too long to explain. You need to cover it in two paragraphs. Some examples from the book: Volvo were successful because they deliberately made their cars ugly. Linux was successful because it was hard to use. Buddy Hackett was successful because he swore a lot. The Blair Witch Project was successful because the movie makers deliberately launched it with no promotional budget. A restaurant near Seth hired a CLOWN. “The results were remarkable”.

4. Describe the SUCCESS as coming about because of your magic word. Some examples from the book: The Aeron Chair was a Purple Cow. Curad bandaids with cartoon characters on them were Purple Cows. Bob Dylan is Seth’s favourite Purple Cow. Krispy Kreme understands how to manage the Cow. Starbucks, Linux, MP3s; all Purple Cows. Success only happened because of your magic word. If people use your magic word, they will be successful too.

5. Use your magic word about twelve times on every page. This will help people to remember it. Also use the word “insanely”. It just impresses people a lot.

That just about nails it but here are some other valuable things I learned from Seth. I think he may have sourced these from desk calendars:

“A camel is a horse put together by a committee”
“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”

But there are a couple that Seth made up himself:

“It’s not an accident that some products catch on and some others don’t”. I made a note about that one.

“Companies with Otaku are the sneezers you seek”. It’s become like a mantra for me.

And how about this for a thought starter: “What if one member of every family in China sent you a nickel?” Goddammit I’d be rich! I’d have BILLIONS of Chinese nickels! This marketing stuff is INSANELY GREAT!

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