Monday, January 21, 2008

Pragmatic Marketing Rule #14

This is the fourteenth in a series of posts on Practical Product Management Rules from Pragmatic Marketing.

Pragmatic Marketing Rule #14: Look for opportunities to deliver the remarkable.

I'll have to admit, when I saw that word "remarkable" my first thought was, 'is this one of those annoying words like passionate and personal brand that pop up from time to time to test my gag reflex?'

But that first thought was fleeting.

This is, after all, Pragmatic Marketing we're talking about here, and they strike me as an outfit that's long on the clear, the thoughtful, and the practical - and blessedly short on the buzz-word BS.

And the PM folks are right on. As product marketers and product managers, we should want to deliver the remarkable in whatever we do - remarkable in the sense of wonderful, uncommon, and singular - all definitions that I just found in the nearby dictionary. (But not so nearby that I'm willing to go look up just what sort of dictionary it was. So there'll be no sixth grade essay "According to Webster" stuff going on here.)

Think about it for a minute.

If you settle for "good enough" in your product, and don't make sure that there are at least a few nice to have goodies, your customers will greet the news with "it's about time," and your prospects will greet the product with "big deal - you've just got what everyone else has."

Is this the type of response you want?

No, you want your customers and prospects to have some sense of delight - something they hadn't thought of, something that's a bit out of the ordinary, something that they'll find really useful - or at least interesting.

It could be something as simple as a last minute time or grief saving feature someone thought of. Maybe it's a smooth integration with some tool or application that everyone in your target industry uses, but which has never really connected up all that well with anything else. Or something that's all new, first ever, state of the art - but something that everyone is going to be clamoring for any day now. You just got their first.

(With product related "remarkables", try to make sure that they're real. The last thing you want is a "who cares?" reaction from customers and prospects.)

The first place to get remarkable should never be playing with prices or services, but, let's face it, your remarkable "thing" could be a couple of hours of installation support thrown in - not because installation is such a bear - let's hope you've solved that problem - but because every environment's different and anything can happen. Or extending the number of seats the license will support.

Don't forget that you can be remarkable in your sales process by really and truly listening to what your prospects and customers are saying, and responding to them. (Years ago, when sifting through vendors to design and build my company's new web site, I gave four companies a detailed outline of what I wanted them to cover when they came in and gave their pitch. Nothing all that radical or out there, just something that addressed the questions and concerns I had. From my point of view, I was handing them gold on a platter by telling them exactly what I wanted, and saving them the time of soliciting this information on their own. But out of four companies who came in to pitch us, only one used the information I'd provided them. The others just went through their standard sales presentation - not bad, but entirely formulaic and not what I'd asked for. Do you have to ask who got my business? I didn't think so.)

You can be remarkable in your customer service process as well. Maybe it's a check-in phone call to follow up on whether last week's problem has been resolved. Or a call to welcome a newbie to the family.

Don't forget the finance side of things, either. Believe me, a lot of customers would find it quite remarkable if you contacted them to let them know you'd discovered an overcharge. Or that more attractive financing was now available.

It's a tough world out there. In order to get noticed - and get business - you need to do something to stand out. And it really doesn't have to be all that remarkable. Last week, I posted on the fine customer service I got at Best Buy/Geek Squad, capped by the original customer service person I spoke with seeing me wandering around the store an hour later, and asking me if I was all set. Maybe not all that remarkable in absolute terms, but compared to some of the don't make eye contact, gab with your fellow clerk, not to mention outright rude retail behavior we're all occasionally subjected to...Will I go back to Best Buy? You best believe I will.

So, don't forget to deliver the remarkable. It really does work.

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