Don't Miss a Thing
Free Updates by Email

Enter your email address

preview  |  powered by FeedBlitz

RSS Feeds

Share |

Facebook: Seth's Facebook
Twitter: @thisissethsblog






Seth Godin has written 18 bestsellers that have been translated into 35 languages

The complete list of online retailers

Bonus stuff!

or click on a title below to see the list


An intensive, 4-week online workshop designed to accelerate leaders to become change agents for the future. Designed by Seth Godin, for you.



All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing




Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow





An instant bestseller, the book that brings all of Seth's ideas together.




Meatball Sundae

Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.



Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.



Poke The Box

The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.




Purple Cow

The worldwide bestseller. Essential reading about remarkable products and services.



Small is the New Big

A long book filled with short pieces from Fast Company and the blog. Guaranteed to make you think.



Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).




The Big Moo

All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.



The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.




The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.




The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.





"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.




Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.



V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.




We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.



Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

The sequel to Small is the New Big. More than 600 pages of the best of Seth's blog.



THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin

All Marketers Are Liars Blog

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 08/2003

« Wish I had it... | Main | A penny, a nickel, a dollar... »

Purple Cow Redux

Godinatfridge Roger Anderson wrote in with some questions about the original Purple Cow promotional strategy. Since it's been so long, I thought I'd quickly recount it here, because there are some useful lessons for all products.

I self-published the book in paperback. I did this because few publishers were interested in a short book on the topic, and were dubious about the future of the web as a promotional tool.

I printed 10,000 copies of the book. I also contacted International Paper to have them print me 10,000 milk cartons. This turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. They print almost all the milk cartons in the United States and weren't particularly motivated by a $2,300 order. I paid in advance, though, and submitted all my materials on time.

The night before the print job went to press, the phone rang. It was my sales rep, informing me that they, "weren't going to be able to print my job." Uh oh. The problem? Someone high up had read some of the copy on the carton and didn't like it.

"I didn't realize that International Paper was in the censorship business," I said. He replied that they weren't censoring the carton, merely refusing to print it.

The offending paragraph: "If this were actually milk, it would be pasteurized and homogenized. Pasteurized involves heating it up to kill any new organisms inside, while homogenization involves mixing it to make it all the same. If this sounds like your organization, perhaps you need this book." They also didn't like the line, "Please don't drink from the carton!"

Instead of calling the ACLU, I just deleted the paragraph and knew I'd have a story for the ages.

Then, Fast Company was kind enough to run an excerpt from the book in the magazine. This is an important part of the story, because this is where the permission marketing part kicks in. Fast Company's 100,000 loyal readers had already given me permission to talk to them. They were listening. If I were doing this today, I'd use my blog, just like you could use yours...

At the end of the article, it said something like, "If you want a copy of Seth's new book for free, send $5 to cover shipping and handling and if there's any left, he'll send you one."

Meanwhile, I had found an epsom salt packaging facility in New Jersey to turn the printed cartons into folded cartons and to stuff the books inside. (Don't try this at home! The factory was a godsend and very hard to find.)

If you sent in your money, we made a mailing label, slapped it on the carton, put on a stamp and mailed it to you. No other packaging. [BONUS! If it's August 23, 2010 and you're reading this, you are eligible to win a free milk carton, I'll mail it to you if you win. Here's the form].

So the carton arrived, and already the mailman is talking about it. The folks in the next cube notice it. Many people opened the carton from the bottom and left the carton on their desk. It led to conversations. Which was the point.

THEN, the last step: On the side of the carton, it gave a web address where you could buy more. But since we sold the first 5,000 in just a week or two, the website only offered one option: if you wanted more, you had to buy a dozen for $60. Why a dozen? So you'd give them away. More conversation.

At the end of the process, I had moved 10,000 books to just the right people, created 10,000 conversations (or more) and broken even. I didn't need anyone's permission (except maybe International Paper) and got exactly one great break (Fast Company, now replaced by blogs).

[My publisher wants me to mention that they were then insightful enough to buy the hardcover rights and that so far they've sold (if I count Taiwan) [way] more than a quarter of a million copies.]

I think this process scales (not the milk carton part, the remarkable part) and works for things other than books. There are two steps that are difficult but not impossible. First, build an audience that wants to hear from you. Second, create something they want to talk about and make it easy for them to do so.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Purple Cow Redux:

» Purple Cow Publishing from We Have Always Done It That Way
Seth Godin provides a nice summary of how he self published Purple Cow and marketed it in a remarkable way. I particularly love the story about International Paper forcing edits on his milk carton design before they would print it! No dissing the milk... [Read More]

» Seth Godin on how the Purple Cow got Its moo from mini blog
Seth Godin recounts the promotional strategy behind The Purple Cow, an inspiring book and one that I think should be in everyones library. Whats amazing about Seths breakdown (I didnt know this) is that Purple Cow was originally... [Read More]

» Thinking China Bloggers And More from China Law Blog
Just learned David Wolf at Silicon Hutong tagged China Law Blog as one of five Thinking Bloggers. In turn, we are supposed to tag five more thinking blogs. Silicon Hutong begs to be re-tagged so he can name five more. I have analyzed the rules, checked... [Read More]

» Who says you cant be remarkable? from fuse
So you are baffled by all of this talk about being remarkable and making your product truly stand out? Dont think that it can be applied to just about anything? The marketing mastermind Seth Godin shares an interesting story about ... [Read More]

» Remarkable Purple Cow: Revisited from The Marketing Fresh Peel
Way before the Best Seller list was even in sight no one wanted to publish Seth Godin's Purple Cow. So what did he do! He took the very core message from within the pages of the very book he was trying to promote and made his book remarkable. Read what... [Read More]

» Do As I Say, Not As I Do from College Marketing 4.0
When I was learning to drive, my father had a Jaguar XK8. That was a fun car to drive. He drove that car as it was meant to be I often heard the phrase, while learning...'Do as I say, [Read More]

» How to make a direct mailing break through the clutter from Digital Solid: Marketing Technology ROI
The most successful business-to-business mailing I ever produced was early in my career, for a company called Acro Automation (*). It was a lead generation letter, mailed in a standard window envelope. But the envelope was stuffed ... [Read More]

» Turning Lemons into Purple Cow Aid from Achieve IT!
A fun example of overcoming a major roadblock is posted at Seth Godins blog.  He is telling the story of how he wanted to market his infamous Purple Cow marketing book.  When it came down to a critical component of his marketing, he found a hi... [Read More]

» The Livid Bovine from ConfuciusSays - China Market Wisdom
Seth Godins Purple Cow is a book that truly inspired all of us at ConfuciusSays, and continues to shape our approach to helping our clients make their ideas spread and win consumer love in China. When it came to promoting the book, Seth practiced wha [Read More]

» Thinking China Bloggers And More from China Law Blog
Just learned David Wolf at Silicon Hutong tagged China Law Blog as one of five Thinking Bloggers. In turn, we are supposed to tag five more thinking blogs. Silicon Hutong begs to be re-tagged so he can name five more... [Read More]

» Thinking China Bloggers And More from China Law Blog
Just learned David Wolf at Silicon Hutong tagged China Law Blog as one of five Thinking Bloggers. In turn, we are supposed to tag five more thinking blogs. Silicon Hutong begs to be re-tagged so he can name five more. I have analyzed the rules, checked... [Read More]

« Wish I had it... | Main | A penny, a nickel, a dollar... »