Ten years ago, Seth Godin published one of his bestseller book called Purple Cow. In the book he argued that in a media-saturated marketplace, there is no room for average products for average people to gain the same foothold that they used to. Merely pushing an idea via relentless ad spend is no longer sufficient. The alternative as he suggested was providing remarkable products and services, products that stand out from the norm, purple cow products.
I briefly wrote about R is for Remarkable.
‘Remarkable’ means something that someone is making a remark about.
When someone remarks on what you are doing, the word spreads, replacing the predictable and expensive Mad-Men strategy of advertising with the unpredictable but potentially magical effect of significant word of mouth–ideas that spread win.
But what makes something remarkable?
When I wrote The Startup Revolution: Fit In or Stand Out two years ago, it is not a very big book, it consists of certain chapters that are very forward looking. Some of the feedback I got is that the book is ahead of its time and that some people won’t get it.
The nicest thing anyone told me was that it was, “ridiculous.”
Of course it was. It was talking about things that were not talked about but starting to happen, it is not available in traditional retail bookstores. It fuses revolutionary thinking with entrepreneurship.
It’s ridiculous to not sell a book this cool at retail bookstores after you have gone to the trouble of making it, and ridiculous to spend that much time making something at a loss.
It turns out that most of what we choose to talk about today is ridiculous. The dramatically overproduced music videos. The business model that is so generous that we can’t imagine it succeeding. The painter who produces a new painting every single day, the blogger who blog everyday, even on weekends and holidays.
The audacity of caring too much, sharing too much and connecting too much.
If it’s not ridiculous, it’s hard to imagine it resonating with the people who will invest time and energy to spread the word. The magic irony is that the ridiculous plan is actually the most sensible…
We can view the term ridiculous as an insult from the keeper of normal, a put-down from the person who seeks to maintain the status-quo and avoid even the contemplation of failure.
Or we embrace ridiculous as the sign that maybe, just maybe, we are being generous, daring, creative and silly.
You know, remarkable. Ridiculous is the new remarkable. Ridiculous is remarkable on high grade.
Two more thoughts on this:
Ridiculous is not safe. If you do something ridiculous and you fail, people get to say, “you idiot, of course you failed, we told you, what you were doing was ridiculous.” Which is precisely why it is so rare for people do ridiculuous things, because they are afraid to be ridiculed. Not because we are unable to imagine being ridiculous, but because we are afraid to be.
Don’t be ridiculous because it is a clever marketing strategy. No, be ridiculous because while the effectiveness allows you to be, the real intent is to be generous or thrilling or to touch some stars. Because you can.