What Does it Take to Be Remarkable?

Christopher Jones

March 15, 2013 · 4 minutes read

Uncategorized

Remarkable is the concept of “never-before-seen.” It’s the idea that makes you think deeply after you’ve been exposed to it; the thing you can’t wait to show your friends, because you want them to share your experience.

Remarkable tends to hang out in the crevices. You’ll never find it in the mainstream. Nothing mainstream is remarkable–It’s just the nature of how ideas diffuse among people. Fortunately for this readership, startups are the antithesis of mainstream. Someday, a successful startup might become mainstream—and when that happens, you have a wholly different marketing strategy.

Remarkable gives. It’s the added bonus that your audience gets from maintaining a relationship with you. It doesn’t always cost money, but it does cost effort (and usually some creativity). The most memorable flight I’ve ever taken, occurred on Southwest Airlines, because the head steward told jokes during the entire trip. Jokes. What a simple way to diffuse the stress of travel. And best of all, jokes are free to tell—though they do require creativity and charisma. How remarkable.

Remarkable is authentic, and it has to deliver–it’s the real deal. Publicity stunts don’t work with remarkable. Dollar Shave Club (the mail order men’s razor service) raised $10 million dollars, which all started with them releasing a hilarious viral video. They ensure a fun “unboxing experience,” and customer’s agree their blades are actually pretty good. Take away one of those elements and the formula doesn’t work. Remarkable has to deliver.

Remarkable doesn’t have to be the best–in fact, it can be the very worst. Chicagoans will cringe in disgust as I talk about the insanely popular, make-your-friends-drink-it-cause-it’s-funny local favorite liquor, Jeppson’s Malört. For the uninitiated, a Google image search of “Malört Face” will tell you all you need to know about the experience. Why is a drink that makes you look like you inhaled a bottle of bug spray so popular? Because it’s the very worst shot you can order at a bar.

Malört succeeds because it’s remarkably the best at being the worst–it exists in a specific crevice.  Their marketing? A local comedian telling jokes about how disgusting Malört is on Facebook, recently having a contest to rename their unofficial slogan from “Malört: When you want to unfriend someone, in person.” It’s a remarkable product with clever marketing, and built-in virility (it’s less of a drink and more of a game you play with your friends). The company’s sales climbed 80% recently.

Remember when Burger King got hacked last week, and had their decidedly unremarkable tweets replaced with obscene rap lyrics? Well, their followers skyrocketed; sometimes, you just don’t see remarkable coming. Though, if they really wish to capitalize on their new found readership, I’d recommend they actually interact with their audience and quit using the ® symbol in their tweets. Us tech savvy startup types know better than that. We know that social media connects people, and not brands.

In a perfect world, we’d all have the budget to pull off a Red Bull Stratos campaign. But if you want to ally yourself with a lifestyle like Red Bull does, the best way to do it is to be the trendsetter. Selling energy drinks to adrenaline junkies is a tough market to crack, but there are countless other communities out there just waiting for someone to embrace and enhance their lifestyle.

Here’s a secret about marketing: your marketing efforts and the product you’re promoting are invariably linked. The closer you get to connecting your deliverable and your marketing strategy, while insisting on the remarkable, the more likely you are to be successful. But, don’t forget—ideas are spreading faster now than any other time in human history. And new ideas beget the spread of more ideas. The Harlem Shake was a relatively unknown dance track from 2012 until a couple of guys in their dorm room put together a stupid video at the end of January–and now you can’t get away from it. There are thousands upon thousands of re-mediated clips on the internet, almost overnight. Has any other idea spread so quickly? I’m not telling you to make the next Harlem Shake video to boost your startup, but I am telling you that the wheels have never been greased for idea diaspora better than right now.

So what are you going to make that’s remarkable?

Photo credit: Bits of Wisdom

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