I’ve said on a few podcasts now; “It’s better to have 50% of people love you and 50% of people hate you than to have 100% of people not care at all”. The premise here being is that if you’re not exceptional, not outstanding, not different…then who will care? Who will you target market be and why would they choose you over someone else? To borrow a phrase from Seth Godin – what is your Purple Cow?
You have to stand out from the crowd even if that means many people do not like your work or your approach.
So, if you’re looking to please the widest possible audience you’re somewhat missing the point. In fact, that’s what a lot of people are doing and so the result ends up being this diluted product that doesn’t delight one section of people, but rather it is mildly satisfactory to some people. That is not the characteristic of an exceptional product or service. That is not a product people are going to go mad for, buy, scream and shout about. That isn’t a successful product
In the book ‘Purple Cow’, by Seth Godin, Seth tells the story of when Comedy Central (the TV Channel) showed ‘South Park’ to a test group. It scored a record low score of 1.8 out of 10 among women in the test group, but recorded unanimous high scores among young males. It goes without saying if you look now how massively popular the South Park show is that it is a purple cow: It’s been on for 17 seasons with some 247 shows, consistently being one of the highest airing programs on cable TV. It’s received numerous awards and a movie too.
Suffice to say that South Park is Marmite (You either love it or hate it). But the love for the show from it’s fans is the important statistic. It’s those people who watch it, buy the DVD’s and the merchandise and make the brand money. The people who hate it don’t have anything to do with it. These are not worth focusing on. What if the makers of South Park suddenly decided to try and make South Park more appealing to more people? What if they cut the language, removed some of the obscenities and dulled the show down to make it more ‘digestible’ to more people. Do you think that more people would love it, or do you think that the show’s fans would lose interest?
So, the purple cow is a product or a service or a brand that is truly loved by the people who love it. The reason it’s a purple cow and now a purple…dog, cat, mouse etc… is because you milk the cow. The reason the cow is purple is because you don’t really see purple cow’s. But, if you did I’m sure you’d be amazed, I’m sure you’d talk about. It would be unique!
So, get out there, be unique, please the people who love you and forget about those who don’t. Milk the cow for what it’s worth and make some money. Be Purple!
This belief that being different, as opposed to just better is a belief that CreativeLive Co-Founder Chase Jarvis and Commercial Photographer Joey L have spoken about too. Check out this short 3 minute video. The biggest takeaway from me is a quote from Chase, where he says:
“Be Different, not just better. In the art world being better only gets you so far. You have to be able to hit the ball down the middle, but everything after that is about being different”
Be sure to subscribe to Seth’s blog. I’m inspired on a regular basis by the stuff this guy produces and I’m sure you will be too. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/