Re-Thinking Remarkable

For some time now, I’ve been ‘preaching’ the message of what it takes — and actually how simple it really is — to become a remarkable business.


The original push for the insight came from Robert Johnson, the Founder of the now ubiquitous Geek Squad — a computer ‘fix-it’ business he started in 1994 with a bicycle that now has 27,000 team-members worldwide and annual revenues of US$1.5 Billion.

It was Robert who originally gave us this marvellously simple quote: ‘Advertising is the fee you pay for being UNremarkable.’

I love the simplicity of that — at one level it explains why Apple (more about them soon) don’t have salespeople and at the most important level of all, it simply is the truth.

Geek SquadNow of course, it doesn’t mean that remarkable companies don’t EVER advertise — it means that they have a choice to do it or not because there’s so much ‘buzz’ about them everywhere. Indeed, in Apple’s case, the only ads I ever see for Apple here in Singapore are ads for letting people know that they’re expanding so fast they need more people!

So … how do you become a remarkable business? And how do you do it simply?

There are just 2 key steps:

  1. You break your business down into a series of small PROCESSES — for example, one small process might be the way you answer the phone; another might be the way you guide people through your website; another might be the way you package your goods; another might be the way you thank people for their business OR for paying their bills on time (and of course, you do have a process for that don’t you?)
  1. As you look at that simple process, you just ask, “Is this the way a remarkable enterprise would do this?”

It’s seriously that simple.

customer serviceAnd then you set about changing the things to make that simple process a remarkable one. For example, is it remarkable to hear stuff like “Press 1 for service, press 2 for accounts, if you know the extension press that number followed by a hash, for order follow up press 3 and to hear all these options again, press star”? Seriously, is that what you’d call remarkable? If not, then change it now.

And in terms of packaging, have you ever opened a package from Apple? You say ‘WOW’ even before you see the product inside. Is that what happens when people open your packaging. If not, change it now.

And Russian billionaire Yuri Milner speaking at the G8 meeting in Deauville in July this year gave us a whole host of reasons why this is so important. Be blown away by these stats:

  • As much information was created every 48 hours in 2010 as was created between the dawn of time and 2003.
  • That will be down to 40 minutes by 2020.
  • 140 million pieces of content shared on Facebook in 2009 — increases to 4 billion in 2011
  • 50 billion emails in 2006, 300 billion in 2010.

Or to put it another way, we are in the age of the acceleration of everything.

So if your website doesn’t grab me in less than 30 seconds, if it’s not remarkable — game over.

If I get the usual phone message, same thing — at the very least I’m not in the best frame of mind when I finally get through.

And if I pay your bill on time and you don’t thank me, I probably won’t keep on doing that because clearly, you’re giving your attention to the people who don’t pay their bills on time (I bet you’ve got a process for that!)

You get the point.

But just go back to the title of this piece again — RE-thinking Remarkable. Why RE-thinking, isn’t just being ‘remarkable’ enough?

Well, I’m thinking maybe not if you want REAL leadership.

You see, years ago, when people first ‘got’ the importance of customer service, people spoke about ‘satisfying’ the customer. But the really great companies didn’t satisfy their clients- they full-on delighted them.

And then those who REALLY understood went further; they said (and they are right), “It’s not about customer service, it’s about customer experience.”

Steve JobsAnd then when Steve Jobs died, it caused me to re-think. What you begin to realise when you think of the remarkable way Jobs did things is this: truly remarkable companies aren’t just remarkable, they inspire.

And so the key question simply becomes this: Do we inspire? Do we inspire enough so that team members are flocking to join us; do we inspire potential customers enough so that we don’t really need salespeople; do we inspire our current customers enough so that they become raving fans?

Being remarkable is a step on that road.

But it’s not just any step. It’s the first step that any of us needs to take if we want to become truly inspiring.

And if we’re not here for that, what are we here for? Business really does have the power to change our lives.

And check out B1G1 to see how they’re doing it.

Paul Dunn


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3 Responses to “Re-Thinking Remarkable”

  1. Earl Stevens Says:

    Very insightful. Loved the quote re advertising being the fee you pay for being unremarkable!!!

  2. Paul Dunn Says:

    Thanks, Earl. It’s a goodie isn’t it?

    Enjoy the Gold Coast today too. Might see you next week (22-23)

  3. George Sam7uels Says:

    You’re still the best mentor and inspiration…and know how to say the right stuff… after 17 years!