The concept is simple: if you don’t have a remarkable product, then you have an average product and people don’t notice average products. If people don’t notice you, then they will not be talking about you. If people are not talking about you, then other people will never learn of your existence. If people don’t know you exist, then they will never show up to your store to buy stuff. Not exactly rocket science here.
A marketer’s job should not begin at the end of the product development process. A marketer should be involved from the very beginning. If the product your company is selling isn’t remarkable, you need to go back to the drawing board. That said, there are two simple stages of a product remarkability:
Stage 1 — The product is already awesome and remarkable.
Great! You either built this remarkable product by happy coincidence or with smart planning and great execution. Either way, your customers love it. Good for you!
Stage 2 — The product is not awesome and not remarkable.
Not so great! It is back to the drawing board. Coming up with an awesome product is critically important for any business. This sort of things takes time and hard work. Marketing isn’t some secret type of magic. There are no voodoo spells or gimmicks that will make demand for a product skyrocket towards the moon. There is ZERO chance a company can make it in the long run without a product that people find remarkable. Let’s take a look at how a company can begin building one with confidence.
Building Remarkable Products
It starts with understanding what it really means to be remarkable. Remarkability has nothing to do with the marketer. Remarkable is in the eye of the consumer, the person who remarks. If people talk about what you are doing, it is remarkable by definition. This means that we really have to understand our desired customers, which can be tricky.
Build For Yourself
One of the best strategies for understanding customers, and making something awesome for them, is to build something awesome for yourself. If your company has talented employees that are all a part of the same community, niche, or tribe, than your company is probably a pretty good representation of that tribe. If you can understand what you want as a member of that tribe (and not as a company just trying to make profit) then you have a great understanding of what your customers want.
Build for your customers. When you and your customers have identical worldviews, then you can just build something for yourself. Your instincts will lead you in the right direction. If it is awesome in your own eyes and you yourself are impressed with it, than it will probably be impressive to your customers too ☺.
However, if you are not a company that shares an identical worldview with your customers, then you need to approach your marketing a little differently. Instead of building a product for yourself, you are going to be looking at your customer to figure out what they want.
When a company does not share identical worldviews with their customers, then they have to become resourceful. The best way to be resourceful and build a solid understanding of your customers is by gathering data. This can be either through your own methods (feedback loops, analytics, etc.) or by purchasing them from a data source (like Nielsen, Kantar or Experian). Once you have enough data, and an understanding of their wants, you can use that data to guide your decisions. Data can help you choose what problem-solving products your customers actually want.
However, businesses can’t just build products that will solve your customer’s problems. Even if all your data points you in a specific direction, marketers need to remember that the brands that last are the ones that find ways to make their products stand out. There is no perfect formula for this and it gets a little tricky. This is where marketers need to get creative.
When somebody experiences something new or something that is the best, they are much more likely to remark on that experience. People only notice new things and in that instance decide if it impresses them. If something doesn’t impress them or doesn’t provide value in a way that improves their life somehow, than that person will forget all about it.
Lucky for marketers everywhere there is little technique that helps a brand become the best at something or to become something new in the marketplace. It is called edge-crafting. Edge-crafting is one of the best techniques companies can use to help them build products that will stand out, and be remarked upon.
Edge-crafting is all about going for the edges. Brands need to do things that their competitors are not doing. Brands need to look at every area of their business that affects the customer experience and explore new ways to bring that area to the very edge of the box.
Brands have to solve customer problems in ways that have not been done. They need to be unique. Jimmy Johns was remarkable. Not only were they a Subway-esque sandwich place that delivered (which is only kinda remarkable, because people have already heard of delivery), but their delivery was “Freaky Fast!” Their edge was fastest delivery in town.
It isn’t remarkable to have (for example) a restaurant with a drive-thru window, but the first restaurant to have one was most certainly remarkable. It was new. It was fresh. It solved problems. It seems so easy, but when something is done once, copying it has diminishing returns. Drive-thru windows are now everywhere and nowhere near being remarkable. That is part of the trick. You have to be first. You have to be the best. Once people are expecting it, or it doesn’t “wow” them, then it is no longer remarkable.
- When McDonalds introduced the “Play Place” in 1961 it was remarkable. Restaurants just were not doing that. It was unheard of.
- When Starbucks turned all of their locations into study lounges, it was remarkable. They dramatically improved the customer experience in ways their customers didn’t even realize they needed. They were the first to make that change and have been handsomely rewarded for it.
- If Taco Bell ever becomes the first fast food place to serve alcohol in the US, that will be remarkable.
- When Little Caesar’s introduced the $5.00 “Hot N Ready”, what they were doing was going all the way to the price edge AND the fast edge.
- Could your brand find a way to take your packaging to the edge in clever ways that make the customer experience better? Probably. What about how you seat your customers at your restaurant? Probably. Or how you refill your customer’s water? You probably could.
- Can your brand be the best at anything? One of the most effective edges for a brand to be at is the “best” edge. If you are the “best”, there is always room in the marketplace for you. That is why winning awards is such a great way to grow a local business. Being the best is remarkable.
Remember though, people will never talk about your product as a favor (unless it’s your sweet ole’ Granny, but, unfortunately, Granny-love doesn’t scale very well). Is your edge relevant for your customer and their problems? Does it affect their experience with your brand in a good way?
Will your customers care if you are the fastest, cheapest, quirkiest, cleanest, messiest, drunkest, most artistic, most organic, most expensive, best designed, worst designed, or most chill place in town? What would they care about?
A marketer’s job has changed. No longer can the marketing department just be asked to “make this thing sell.” There are just too many alternatives for customers. Marketers need to be involved in the very beginning of the product development. Building a product that stands out is incredibly crucial to the success of the brand. If you are stuck trying to sell a product nobody knows about (and therefore nobody can want), than you are just that, stuck.
There are two ways brands can continue to build remarkable products in the future and both avenues can get your pretty far. First, if a business is made up of a core group that is representative of the customer base, then they can focus on building something remarkable for themselves. Sharing the same worldview as your customers is incredibly valuable for brands.
The other option is through a technique called edge-crafting, which is a way to make products stand out and be remarked upon. Brands that want to stick around for the long haul need to find creative ways to give customers added-value and improve the experience at every turn. That is the name of the game.