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The 9 principles of remarkability - how to stand out from the competition

Standing out from the crowd

Remarkability is something we at Purple Frog talk about all the time. It's what we teach our clients to think about and what we help them uncover through our consultancy services. The way we like to simply is explain it is this:


"Remarkability is what people say about you when you are not in the room."

It's what they would recommend you for and what makes you stick in their mind. More often than not, when we first ask the question to our clients on what they believe makes them remarkable, the answers are usually quite generic and bland. They are usually along the lines of "we are better than others" or "we offer more value" etc. but it's only when we dig deeper into the root of such beliefs and when we speak to their clients to uncover what they find remarkable about the company, that a better, more comprehensive picture begins to form. 

After our years of experience working with countless different businesses, we have identified 8 principles that make a company truly remarkable.


1 - Emotion

Contrary to what customers and clients think, they’re not as savvy as they think they are. Studies have shown that although people say they have researched and shopped around, the likelihood is, they haven’t. The problem is, when it comes to purchasing an item, or a service, 95% of the time, it’s an emotional purchase, not a logical one.

In many ways, this is a good thing for marketeers. Logical purchases require you to have the very best product or service, but emotional purchases only require you to stand out from the crowd and make your potential customers feel something.

“Remarkability is in the emotions that you create in the buyers. It’s not in what you sell, and not even in the way you sell it. What they buy is how you make them feel.”

David Finch, Managing Director of Purple Frog.  


Look at Apple for example, they make the consumer feel like they’re a better person for owning one of their products. When you watch their advertising or see their marketing, notice how it uses everyday situations, most recently a food delivery driver; but look how they make that job seem appealing, how it oozes this fantastic lifestyle, all because he’s using an Apple product. Their remarkability is in making the ordinary, extraordinary.

With that same example still in mind, consider that Gerald Zaltman (Harvard Business School professor) said, “No matter how radical a new product is, it will always be perceived initially in terms of some frame of reference”. Apple conjure up many frames of references, but the first and foremost for me is that they protect your data at all costs. Compared to other hardware on the market, this is something that makes them remarkable. Emotionally, you trust Apple. And if you’ve won someone’s trust, you’re likely to win their money too.


2 – Uniqueness

Uniqueness is a flawed concept in marketing. You can't have a unique selling point because the moment you put it out there, somebody else will copy it. Therefore, you're not unique. Or at least you can’t be so for more than a few weeks or months or years.

What remarkability gives you is the ability to stand out, to be different, to be talked about.

Take HubSpot for example, they compete against dozens, possibly even hundreds of other CRMs. But they’re fast becoming the most used and talked about CRM, even with the big competitors like Salesforce in the crowd. How have they done this in such a convoluted sector? They certainly aren’t unique in their offering. They don’t have the most advanced data analytics marketing automation tools in the market either. I wouldn’t even say that their Sales suite is the best solution for some Enterprise level companies. However, what HubSpot do to make themselves stand out, is they offer advice and support, everywhere you look. They have made themselves into thought-leaders for all things marketing. From their extensive blog library down to the people on the end of their chats, from their HUGs to the UI of HubSpot (read: easy to use). They add value to their customers and prospective customers by helping them make informed decisions every step of the way. And that’s what makes them remarkable – they have opened their knowledge base to the world and continue to add to it, meaning that people talk about them, talk to them and you can bet that a lot of other CRM companies will be copying them.


3 – Crowd

Remarkability gives you a crowd. People who talk about you. People who trust you. People who evangelise about you and are advocates. People who want to work with you. A crowd allows you to raise awareness about your brand without a big budget and generate verified leads. It focuses on relevant communication channels in order to serve quality content to your target audience exclusively.

GymShark is a really good example of a brand who have used their remarkability to create a crowd of evangelists. As one of the fastest growing fitness apparel brands in the world, their incredible growth isn’t because of their apparel, but more because of the community they have built around their brand. They have an excellent blog which permits users access to a plethora of tips, tutorials, exercises, health advice and fitness related information, which has positioned them as a thought-leader in their sector.

They have a huge following on social media due to their choice of athletes, they tend to steer more towards a “healthy” body, rather than Olympians etc. and work with a lot of health and fitness influences, who come with their own crowd of followers. Thus, adding to the list of advocates.


4 - Value

Remarkability is about the value in a product you sell or in a service provide. If you just want to sell on price, then you're not remarkable, you're just one of the crowd. If you want to sell on adding value, then that is what is remarkable about you. However, sometimes what YOU think is remarkable, and where YOU think you add value isn't where your CUSTOMERS see you add value. So, one of the big things you have to do is ask them a simple question: “what is it that you value about what we do for you? About what our products/services do for you?”.

Asking those questions in themselves is actually quite remarkable, because in our experience very, very few businesses do it. They create their whole business inside-out, based on ideas generated from their internal teams, as opposed to looking at it from the outside-in, putting the customers’ needs and ideas first, and responding to them by placing the right products in front of them, in the right way at the right time.


5 – Thinking

 It seems a bit of strange point, but I’ve put it in here because when you're selling a product or you are delivering a service, you're thinking all the time about how this adds value, how you are improving the customer experience, how you are delivering on your brand promise, how you are offering a better service or product and how you innovate. If you always think like this, then you'll be more remarkable than your competitors.

A brand who transformed themselves from merely a soap company to a remarkable company with a vision, through asking themselves the questions above is, Dove. Their new mission statement encompasses the new way of thinking among women; “beauty should be a source of confidence and not anxiety.” By consistently aligning their marketing efforts with their mission statement, they prove that they have thought about how they can offer a better product, add value and improve customer experience with their brand. Dove has been able to change its public perception to a brand that authentically champions women’s empowerment and wants to change the conversation around beauty.

By thinking about how they can add value, how they can improve customer experience, how they can deliver on brand promises and how they can innovate their product, they have created the breeding grounds of longevity and remarkability.  


6 - Sustainability

In this instance I don’t mean sustainability as in going green (although that can be). It's about creating something which is sustainable in your business (read all about how to create sustainability here), something that you can deliver on, something you have a passion for, something that helps you deliver great customer service.

Being sustainable is remarkable. Many, many companies come and go, but the ones that are most successful are the ones who are sustainable. Marks and Spencer, for example, have had their fair share of bumps in the road, with not many people thinking they’d survive after 2015. But M&S are passionate about retaining that “middle market”; promising to deliver good quality clothes and delicious food, their customers buy into the quality over quantity ethos. But while they are still channelling the same philosophy they always have been, they’re also trying to appeal to the newer, more tech savvy clientele, as well as bringing their company into the 21st century by creating a more sustainable space in the form their website. Chief executive Marc Bolland said they’re “…working on creating a more agile and robust digital customer experience roadmap that keeps pace with both the changing M&S customer and the agility of their key competitors”.

They’re trying to remain relevant to a younger target audience, whilst still appealing to their loyal customers. They’re working hard to be sustainable. And with a reported a 6.1% rise in pre-tax profits to £661.2m for the year to 28 March 2015, it looks like they’re achieving that goal.


7 – Passion

Great businesses have passion, Simon Sinek talks about the “why” in one of his Ted Talks. People don't buy what you do, and they don't buy necessarily how you do it (although that helps). They ultimately buy why you do it. They buy into your vision, buy into your passion. Sometimes this can be very hard to define, which is how remarkability helps. Remarkability helps you define the why, the reason you're doing something.

Eugene Gold writes in ‘The Importance of Passion as a Business Leader’ for Forbes: “Passion enables you to keep pursuing success in the face of adversity longer than anyone else.”. If you’re passionate about your brand, you will stand the test of time, no matter what gets thrown at you.

The most powerful marketing messages are those with a strong sense of purpose, that leave people to talk to others about what you are involved in, what makes you different and how you are changing the status quo, which leads on to my point number eight.

8 – Change

Change happens all the time. Change is around us and it defines us. If you don't change anything, then you risk extinction pretty rapidly. You chance becoming just another one of the same old money-making attempts, which may enjoy success in the short term but won’t be making money in the long run. You’ll notice that the examples given throughout this article have all changed and adapted to remain relevant, sustainable, and valuable to their customers. They change to remain remarkable and yet it’s their remarkability that helps them think about what they can change.

If you listen to the value that you add, as well as understand what your customers value from you and why they talk about you, you can quickly understand what you can change to really amplify that to reach new audiences. And/or to make your products even better, to make your services more exciting, to create more emotional connections. These changes will in turn lead to more sales. Here the circle comes to a full close, going back to emotion, which is where we started this article on.



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