A Story Of Purple And Sacred Cows


Mike KarlsrudNormally, I attend meetings and do a write up about what I learned. This year at the COLA (California Optical Lab Association) , Mike Karlsrud spoke on Sacred and Purple Cows and it really hit home. Over the last few weeks I have been reviewing all my Sacred and Purple Cows and have decided to implement changes as I am sure you would if you were at the meeting.

A Sacred Cow, is a thing or a thought and idea, that you just can let go of. That’s the way we do it, we have always done it this way are mantras for those hanging onto Sacred Cows. While there are some things that Sacred Cows are good for.. i.e.. no sweets, no sugary drinks, in reality Sacred Cows can prevent and inhibit you from making changes that might deter success in the future.

Many people think that holding on to Sacred Cows is safe, but as Mike said in the meeting that there is ‘Nothing safe about what is going on in our industry today. ‘  No truer words were spoken. We are looking into major changes in our industry.. from the way consumers are purchasing on the Internet, the Viral Wave effect of companies like Warby Parker, how Eye Exams are being giving via Apps, Kiosks and now Blink. Your traditional frame vendors are wholesaling and retailing products, your traditional wholesale companies are wholesaling and retailing products.. and yes they are disrupting the optical industry. (Purple Cows)

Purple Cows are Cows that stand out. Purple Cows go viral, Purple Cows are unique, Purple Cows get talked about. Just because they go viral.. does not mean the products or services are unique or remarkable in any way shape or form. In fact, when Lenscrafter first introduced their ‘Featherlight’ lenses, their was nothing remarkable about a polycarb lens.. But the way it was marketed ‘Disrupted’ the optical industry, the same with spring hinges and one hour service.

Today, there are Purple Cow companies disrupting: Think Uber, think AirBN, think Amazon, Toms Shoes, Apple. In Eyecare, Ditto, Goggle Glass, Warby Parker, SoloHealth,


Our industry in general holds onto Sacred Cows. We pretty much do the same thing we have for years. You may have a website that is 5 years old.. (Sacred Cow), you resent and do not want to ‘SELL’ products on your website (Sacred Cow). Your office hasn’t been updated in 15 years.. (Sacred Cow).. You don’t want to deal with a frame company unless they have a rep or a good return policy (Sacred Cow) You are only using this lab because they have a discount (Sacred Cow).. You won’t see a new rep, look at new equipment… because you automatically assume they are all the same. To a certain extent you could be right.

As Mike brought up, we are a Surplus Society.  The Surplus Society has a surplus of similar companies, employing similar people with similar educational background, coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things with similar prices and similar quality (Kjell, Funky Busines.)  In truth.. while that is true, but among all the surplus are shining stars, companies that are changing and adapting. How are you going to find the adaptors if you don’t question and seek answers?

After WWII, the United States needed to get industry moving again. The mantra at the time, don’t make products that will last, so people will continue to buy. This started Planned Obsolescence. Planned Obsolescence is when a company only makes product to last for a limited amount of time and before the new product is out the door, they are already planning for it to go away. Think of the Fashion Industry, they sell and it’s gone….

Apple is another great example.. every Fall people await the new iPhone. Apple sold 74.4 million iPhones over the 90 day period ending December 27th.

Tech companies including Apple, Google, Facebook all strategically plan-force the consumer to move on.

WE DO IT.. some can’t wait… others grudgingly. No matter how we do it.. we have to have it and it is not cheap. How many of you bought the Apple Watch? How many of you bought the iPhone 6? Did you need it? How much did you pay? Right.. you paid, you downloaded apps, you bought books.. and you paid and paid.

Why is that not happening in our industry? Why is it that a subject like Blue Light and Digital Eye Strain just making it into the conscious of consumers? Do you know they have been talking about this for ten years?

How does all of this effect you? How does it effect your patients and future patients?

Do you go to the shows to look at new products, or go see your established companies? Do you see new reps, because you think they have the same thing (Surplus)  as everyone else? Do you get upset because a frame is discontinued?

Are you doing the same things you were 2 years ago? What have you changed?

Mike quoted ‘The great growth comes with products (services) that annoy, offend, don’t appeal are too expensive, too cheap, too heavy, too complicated, too simple— to something’ (Seth Godin) As Mike said you are going to piss somebody off.

Which bears the question.. how are you different?

Mike’s Advice: Come up with a list of 10 ways to change the way you think of your business, your products and services that will appeal to just a sliver of you audience. .

  • Think Small- What is the smallest conceivable market? Niche marketing, luxury, OrthroK, Iridology,
  • Copy from other industries… Hardware stores, beauty salons, boutiques. What are they doing that works.
  • Find what is ‘just not done here’ and do them
  • Differentiate your Customers- niche marketing. Find a profitable group and market to them
  • Discover the small segment of your customers that will share your message.

More advice: You are on the right path is people criticize you. The most dangerous path today is the safe one.

Get Rid Of The Sacred and Go For The Purple.

For more information about Mike Karlsrud go to www.karlsrudcompany.com

To Read the book Funky Business which can help you find your Sacred Cows- Available From Amazon Funky Business forever



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