Imagine you were walking in the countryside and saw a bright purple cow in a field of otherwise completely normal cows. I’d be surprised if you didn’t take a picture, post it on social media and tell all your friends. Some of them would probably go and see it, then do the same as you. The next thing it would be all over the news. That’s the power of being remarkable.
It’s also the title of a seminal marketing book by Seth Godin - Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
Being remarkable is even more important now than it was in 2005 when Godin wrote Purple Cow.
Why is providing remarkable value important?
Mark Schaefer puts it well in his book Marketing Rebellion , which is summed up in short promo video below.
- Your customers are your marketing department
- The brands of the past were built on advertising impressions
- The brands of today are built on human impressions
- Two thirds of your marketing is now happening without you
Your marketing is now happening by word of mouth, amplified by technology.
Read that last bullet point above again: Two thirds of your marketing is happening without you!
So what’s the answer?...
When you start looking around you, you’ll realise that huge business successes have been built on being remarkable. The most successful business leaders of all time have used this approach time and time again.
If I asked you to name me 5 of the top business leaders - I’m willing to put money on Richard Branson being included in that list. He has built the Virgin business empire on being remarkable.
Here’s what Jeff Bezos of Amazon has to say on being remarkable:
The thing that we did early on is that we made it very easy for people to find very obscure products.
That was something people remarked on.
If you're not doing something that people will remark on, then it's going to be hard to generate word of mouth.”
Building on this, here is a short excerpt from Purple Cow
The old rule was this:
CREATE SAFE, ORDINARY PRODUCTS AND COMBINE THEM WITH GREAT MARKETING.
The new rule is:
CREATE REMARKABLE PRODUCTS THAT THE RIGHT PEOPLE SEEK OUT.”
Start with your customers
To create remarkable products for the right people, it's important for you to understand who your right people are.
Start by understanding your ideal customers and what they want. This quote from Peter Drucker sums it up well.
Starting with the customer is the cornerstone of the Customer Obsessed approach. If you haven’t created it already, create your ideal customer profile and persona, then work on identifying how you can create what they want and need in a remarkable way.
Let’s look at ways that you can increase the remarkable value you provide to your customers, by looking at examples from businesses both large and small.
Be more remarkable by making your business experience better
We use examples from Amazon regularly because Amazon and Jeff Bezos live and breath the Customer Obsessed approach. Amazon has also grown from zero to one of the leading companies in the world in under 20 years, making it a great example for us all to learn from.
Amazon’s 1 click checkout - remarkably easier than the alternatives
One of the things that has helped Amazon grow in this way is Amazon’s 1 Click checkout. Amongst many other things, it is one of the elements that made Amazon’s customer experience better than its many other online competitors at the time.
What can you do to make your customers experience better or faster than your competitors?
Starbucks name on the cup - remarkably personal and remarkably wrong
The seemingly small act of writing a name on a cup makes a big difference. As a human you naturally associate with your name, it makes you feel comfortable and valued. It's remarkable even when someone gets it wrong. Although we’d never recommend getting it this wrong!
The other benefit is that Starbucks employees get to know the names of regular customers, creating a deeper customer connection (assuming they get the name right… at least on a second attempt.)
You can also see it’s your coffee, how it’s progressing and when it’s ready. You’re suddenly more in control, compared to when everything looks pretty much the same.
How can you make a tiny, low cost change in what you do like writing your customers name on the cup, that can make these profound differences to your customers experience of your business?
You might even get the side benefit of a load of free promotion, by getting it wrong from time to time.
Apple’s beautiful design - remarkably right
Apple’s products are nearly always beautiful. They stand out from the crowd, especially before anyone else has copied them.
It makes their products and their brand remarkable.
What can you do to help your products and services stand out from your competitors?
Consistently great design is one way, making your products and services simpler and easy to buy is another way. It’s worked for Apple and it can work for you too.
Be more remarkable by making your business experience enjoyable
A dentist that serves amazing coffee and cakes - remarkably different
Good coffee being served by businesses has become fairly common now, but when Paddi Lund, Australia’s “Crazy Dentist” started doing this it was unheard of.
Going to the dentist isn’t typically something that you’d associate with being fun. Paddi was also in that position, he wasn’t having fun going to work in his chosen profession. So he decided to change things up.
He tore down his signage, locked his door, sacked the customers he didn’t like, ripped out the reception desk and replaced it with the best coffee machine he could buy. He swapped the free tubes of toothpaste for the best tasting dental buns.
He decided that rather than running his business the normal way, he’d create a remarkable experience and only accept new customers by referrals from his existing customer base.
It was an extreme way to be customer obsessed, but that's the route he chose and it worked.
He grew the business that he and his customers wanted, by making the whole experience more enjoyable.
Zappos and their great customer service - remarkable service
Search for examples of great customer service and Zappos will feature in every search.
We don’t have them here in the UK, but they are renowned for their great customer service that is served up with a healthy dose of fun. They are encouraged to wow their customers, not just make them happy.
Here a few examples.
- A best man ordered shoes from Zappos because they were the cheapest. He was then notified they weren’t going to arrive on time. He called Zappos customer service, who arranged for a replacement pair of shoes to be overnighted to him, upgraded him to a VIP account and gave him a complete refund. He’s now a customer for life, all from buying the cheapest pair of shoes
- A 10 hour service call from a customer who was considering moving to Las Vegas and wanted to get some advice. The customer bought a pair of Ugg boots at the end of the call (no time limits for customer service calls at Zappos)
- A customer contacted Zappos customer support to return a defective shoe and they arranged for a replacement pair to be sent out. When the replacement pair arrived it was wrong. When the customer asked for the details to return them, Zappos customer service asked her to donate them to charity, while they sent out the correct ones
This great customer service has helped Zappos achieve huge growth.
Here’s a quote from Tony Hsieh on the thinking at Zappos:
Our philosophy has been that most of the money we might ordinarily have spent on advertising should be invested in customer service, so that our customers will do the marketing for us through word of mouth.
Tony Hsieh - Zappos
It looks like this thinking worked out pretty well for them.
Fancy reading more, check out this Harvard Business Review article by Tony Hsieh
Can you make your customer service remarkable, by taking some inspiration from Zappos?
Innocent’s fun packaging - remarkably cheeky
Innocent make great products and they also have a lot of fun while they’re doing it.
This fun element makes their product remarkable. So much so that their customers are willing to make wooly hats for their bottles.
Innocent’s cheeky branding and fun comments on their label and ingredients list has inspired a generation of more personal branding on consumer products. This approach has even managed to continue following Innocent’s purchase by Coca Cola 10 years ago.
Can you create remarkable value by adding more personality to your company and brand?
Create a remarkable community
Building a community is another way that businesses can create remarkable value for prospects and customers.
We have a great example locally to us here in Bournemouth.
The YATM - You Are The Media community - a remarkable community
YATM a great example of a small business creating a powerful community. Mark Masters runs a small content marketing agency the ID Group. As an experiment Mark created the You Are The Media community.
It started with a newsletter - you can subscribe here.
Then he started a podcast.
As the community grew Mark set-up a conference and introduced a lunch club.
Members of his community then created a Facebook group and a monthly social.
It all centred around building an audience and creating a community around this audience. Mark’s customers are part of the community, so are other agencies (potentially his competitors) and prospects.
The community builds value around Mark’s agency the ID Group and helps to build authority for him and his community, all of which increases awareness and trust with prospects and loyalty from his customers.
An audience is looking beyond the pursuit of clicks and converting someone to a pound sign, it is about creating something that people want to feel connected to and be a part of. When community comes into the picture, there is a sense of pride, empowerment and the contribution supports longevity.
Mark Masters - The ID Group
As the community grew Mark set-up a conference and introduced a lunch club.
Can you build an audience and provide remarkable value to that audience through community events?
Online communities from Facebook to Whatsapp - remarkably simple
The great thing about Facebook and Whatsapp is that you can create a community in a few clicks.
Recently I received the notification of a new book from an author I follow. If you purchased the book on that day and sent proof, you’d receive an invite to a Whatsapp goal accountability group.
That Whatsapp group will take a time investment to run, but it probably took minutes to set-up and the investment and cost to run it, will be tiny in comparison with in-person initiatives, or groups with a less well defined remit.
Can you create a similar Whatsapp or Facebook community that will deliver significant value to your audience, for a small investment of your time?
Harley Davidson’s iconic community - remarkably iconic
Part of Harley Davidson’s iconic brand is its community of owners. Many Harley owners lead normal day to day lives, owning a Harley Davidson brings adventure and excitement.
One of the secrets to this is Harley Davidson’s HOG - Harley Owners Group.
You’ve probably seen (or heard) them riding down the road - a group of Harley owners out for a ride. The chances are, they’re on the way to a meet up.
Communities bring people together and give them something bigger to unite together. It gets them talking and remarking on the value they get out of owning a Harley Davidson.
How can you create a remarkable community that becomes a long term asset for your business? Remember starting small with a close community of 10 is more valuable than a weak community of hundreds or thousands.
Create remarkable product bundles
Amazon Prime - remarkable value and remarkable results
With Amazon Prime you get next day delivery, video streaming, music streaming, books, magazines and first reads, as well as a few other services if you want them - all for a little more than the price of Netflix each month. If you purchase from Amazon regularly it’s a no brainer.
The benefit for Amazon is that Amazon Prime members buy around 3 times more than non members. Which gives them a big incentive to make Amazon Prime such a great deal.
Are there opportunities for your business to provide packaged products and services at remarkable value, that drive increase loyalty and frequency of purchase from your customers?
Fast food meals - remarkably consistent
When we go to fast food restaurants like McDonalds or Burger King we expect to see bundled meals, including a burger, fries and a drink, for well under the cost of buying each separately. They've also become very popular lunch options in supermarkets.
This packaging means that the majority of customers choose to buy all three items. As the material cost of the fries and drink are negligible compared with the cost of the server managing the frier and drinks machine - it makes much more sense for 80% of customers to be served a drink and fries.
This packaging gives the customer a product bundle they are very happy with and the business a great method of maximising revenue per customer. (I appreciate there are some side effects associated with the popularity of this approach, I’m sure if the fast food chains were forced to take them away there would be an uproar from customers.)
Can you do some Customer Obsessed thinking, number crunching and testing to work out which products or services add up to offer as a bundled meal deal for your business?
Consultant packages - remarkably powerful
It is quite common to see consultant who has written a book, to package their book and a peer group into their regular consulting service.
The cost to deliver the book and peer group to the customers is relatively low in comparison to the cost of the consulting services. However, the value to the customer is high. Similar to the product bundle examples we’ve given above, this bundling provides high value to the customer and increases loyalty.
It’s an example of using similar bundling thinking, in a completely different industry sector.
Can you bundle existing products and services to provide great value to your customers and make it easier for them to buy from you?
Create remarkable limited time special offers
Early bird offers for events - remarkable for yachts
Whether it’s a holiday, a business event or a flight, there was a time when you were rewarded with special deals for buying at the last minute. If we can leave these things to the last minute, many of us will, so this last minute discounting was reinforcing natural human behaviour.
The result - a nightmare for businesses selling them, as they had to wait until the last minute to have any idea on how well things would sell. It’s also not great for the customers as they’re doing everything last minute.
One by one these businesses selling events realised that it's much better to incentivise earlier sales with time bound early bird offers. The customers who plan ahead get rewarded for being a better customer and helping the business pre-sell their capacity. As a Customer Obsessed business it makes much more sense to reward our best and most loyal customers, rather than the last minute customers who are just buying on price anyway.
Loyal customers are much more likely to remark and tell their friends that they got a great deal for buying early. Encouraging word to spread to more potential loyal customers.
I’ve never seen an early bird offer for buying a yacht, but I found this one - proving the approach can be used in nearly any industry!
Special editions - remarkably expensive
Special editions can work in a similar way to early bird discounts for the right brands. They work particularly well for businesses with an existing loyal customer base where creating a limited special edition is a great way to reward those customers.
The special editions tend to get the community of loyal customers excited - a form of customer value. When these special editions are genuinely limited, for genuine reasons, it creates a remarkable story for your loyal customers. All of which increases value for them and increases your sales.
Bremont watches are masters of this approach.
Small steps to a more remarkable business
You don’t need to be Amazon or a luxury watch brand to be remarkable.
If you want to be more remarkable, start by identifying how you can be at least 1% more remarkable than you were last quarter.
When you combine this with 1% improvements in the 11 other areas of Customer Obsessed value you’ll improve your customers’ experience by at least 12% in 12 weeks.
Do that each quarter in the year and you’ll increase the value you provide by 48%.
Repeat that for 3 years in a row and you’ll triple how remarkable your business is.
By applying this thinking and tripling how remarkable your business is, you’ll triple your revenues and business value.
We’ve built the Customer Obsessed Growth System to help you take these small steps, to grow your business by making a big difference to your customers.
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