Built Intelligence

How to build a ‘best in class’ business with a Purple Cow? By Terry O'Mahony

How to build a ‘best in class’ business with a Purple Cow? By Terry O'Mahony

I don’t know about you, but I read a lot of books. 

On average I read at least one business growth and development book per week.  It’s a great way to learn a lot of good stuff, fast.

One of my favourite authors is Seth Godin.  He’s probably written 15 or more books, some of the following titles you may recognise:

  • V is for vulnerable
  • This is marketing
  • We are all weird
  • Permission marketing

And the list goes on …  Seth is a prolific writer and consequently a renowned thought leader.  I can imagine he writes a book every month.

So, what’s my favourite book written by Seth Godin?

My favourite of all his books is:  

Purple Cow: transform your business by being remarkable

The main concept or idea within the book is quite simple really.  We all know that advertising, in all its various forms doesn’t really change people’s minds about any product or service.  But deep down we know that when someone we know, like or trust uses something, tells us about something or recommends something or someone, it normally makes a huge impact on us.

So, the book encourages us to develop, make or create remarkable products and services.

In this context the word ’Remarkable’ means something worth making a remark about!

 You see it’s not up to us as suppliers to decide what is remarkable or a Purple Cow, it’s up to our clients and customers to decide and to choose to remark about it.

Invest in your Purple Cow

The book goes on to recommend that we all need to invest some time and effort into our marketing and sales process to create our own Purple Cow.  My article How can you become a ‘go to’ company for your products and services, may help you with this.  An extreme example might be for a professional services firm to say to its clients only pay us when we have delivered our service in full.  Imagine that!

Such a Purple Cow would not be just a gimmick; this concept is about choosing not to be one of the many i.e., be just like everyone else in your discipline, sector, or market.  No, it’s about massive differentiation, to be seen and known as the number one or the only one-of-a-kind in your class.

Remember, it is not up to us to decide whether what we have produced or offered is a Purple Cow, it’s up to the market to decide.  It’s up to your clients and customers.

So, you need to specialise, so you can help a group of clients uniquely well, thus making you a specialist in that space or niche.  Suddenly you are no longer a generalist supplier e.g., the supplier of a commodity – you are a specialist area of expertise and you can promote yourself as number one in the space.

What are Purple Cows?

One idea I came across recently was that a firm of architects invested 7% of their profits every year to invite and pay for all their clients to spend two days together at a private conference.  Those two days gave their clients an opportunity to meet with peers, some of their competitors and other people and firms they look up to. In those two days they learned more about the marketplace that they could have in a whole year.  That’s a Purple Cow.

 So, what’s the big take away here?

 Well, if you position and promote yourself the same way as your competitors, you become a commodity. To become the obvious supplier of choice you need to produce a product or service that people are only too happy to remark about to your current and prospective clients.

About the author

Terry O’Mahony, M.Sc, MCIOB, Construction Leaders Club

Terry has significant leadership and business management experience within the construction, property and investment industry. He graduated with an MSc in Construction Project Management and has been a member of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) for several decades. Having started his career with a national building contractor, he went on to hold several senior management positions in the industry in a career that spans over four decades. During the past forty years Terry has been engaged in the strategic growth, marketing and selling of goods and services within the construction industry. He has worked in a variety of businesses including small, medium and large national construction businesses, managing business and teams to deliver multi-million pound projects.

Terry is a highly experienced and respected ‘Business Growth Coach, having been the principal Midlands-based construction growth coach and consultant on the government’s accredited ‘Growth Accelerator’ programme.


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