Remarkableadjective – Worthy of being or likely to be noticed, especially as being uncommon or extraordinary.

“You want great marketing but nobody can be creative enough to compensate for the problem you have. The product you have been offering for the past 10 years just isn’t that remarkable, in fact, very few people truly even care if it exists.” When I told this to the new CEO of a company I advised on a call this past week, I knew he wouldn’t like hearing it. I also knew that he was intellectually honest enough to agree. Would you be?

We were reviewing new marketing collateral his company had just developed. My question: “Who cares?” I wasn’t being callous. I was truly asking how this addressed a deeply felt need of his potential and actual clients. His marketing staff’s copy came off like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons, “Wa wa wa wa wa wa.”

There were at least three historical issues wrapped in this company’s marketing woes:

  1. The old management’s communication style preference
  2. Who they spoke to in their target market, dicated by that communication style
  3. The product and story they told about it were not remarkable

Your Story Gets Told the Way You See It

The founders of a company tend to set the company off on a trajectory that they envision and set. They see a need in the marketplace or come up with a product idea and set a story in place on how the market is going to receive it. Too often, they tell the story from their inside-the-bottle point of view and they never really get the proper results they desire. It’s often hard to take your customer’s point of view and tell them the story the way they need to experience it.

Great marketers and sales people have the ability to craft great stories. However, this company was extremely people oriented, founded to help companies better understand their customers. The founders’ communication style was highly “humanistic;” they were all about understanding and caring for people. I consider many of them good friends today and they are among the nicest people I know. So, they took their humanistic type product, told their story in a humanistic style, and the only people who cared or ever responded to their pitch for the most part were other people who preferred a humanistic approach.

There is nothing wrong with that per se. However, the majority of the budget for their product category was in the hands of decision makers with “competitive” and “methodical” personality preferences. While they kept developing their product to be more humanistic, their competitor took their equally less than remarkable “humanistic” product but told the story in a “competitive” point of view. Guess which one has the larger market share?

You Can’t Be Remarkable by Imitation

It’s often not enough to recognize you are speaking to the wrong persona or segment and just change your communication style. It typically won’t come off as authentic and your marketplace will see that you are just trying to copy your competitor. You still need something remarkable to share.

The new CEO of this company came in and had the development team work on an improved solution. The new solution is excellent and has the potential to be remarkable, depending entirely on how they decide to craft their narrative now. This one change can move this company from being a boring competitor in its current market to a natural leader in a new and emerging marketplace. However, it must make the change internally and externally to tell a new story and share it in the right voice. No amount of great marketing will resurrect a lousy story and unremarkable product, but in today’s world of “word of mouth,” where social media is a top priority for marketers and the board room, you need your customers to share how remarkable your solution is. Will they want and be able to share your story?

Planning for Word of Mouth

My good friend Kevin Ertell did a fabulous job in his blog this week describing how planning for word of mouth may be the missing link forgotten about by marketers in the customer engagement cycle. He recommends that marketers plan for “satisfaction” and “referral” steps. As his post says, “Satisfaction is simply the foundation, and the minimum requirement, for a continuing relationship with customers.”

Aiming for “satisfaction” isn’t enough. It’s more effective to have marketers think in terms of “delight.” By adding “referral” as a step, it might misalign marketers into thinking they can trigger the referral if they just enable it, where we both know that when a customer is delighted (or angry) they share it today.

If you truly want to persuade people you must first delight them. We can learn a lot about this from Apple’s marketing. Seth Godin offers 10 tips on how to be remarkable as well.

How to Trigger Word of Mouth

When delivering a keynote presentation last week about social media to small and medium sized businesses, I told them nothing different than what I tell larger clients. Hopefully, they can now turn their agility into an advantage. Remember, it’s important to be remarkable! Think of it like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz”; the power to capture social media attention didn’t rely on the wizard (social media gurus) or the ruby slippers (the social media tools), but rather that they had the power inside them the whole time – they just needed to be “remarkable!”