While remarkability tends to decrease the cost of customer acquisition (i.e. as more people remark to others about your products and services, you pay less per new customer because word of mouth doesn’t cost you directly). However, what often drives remarkability is your willingness to spend a little more money on the new customers you do actually attract. For example . . .
Several years ago, when I used to pastor a large church, I needed to hire an architect to design our first building. After doing our research, we brought in two national church architectural firms that were used to designing and building large church buildings and one local firm that had a great reputation for building large public buildings, including concert halls, but hadn’t designed a church (we liked to think differently so we thought that hiring a non-church building architect might allow us to create a church building that would be, well, remarkable!)
The two national firms both sent us similar packages, packages you’d expect an architectural firm to send (with letters and references, basic outlines and images of projects they’d done etc either in a folder or comb binding). Neither was bad. In fact, they were good. But they were predictable (which means they were ordinary).
Then we received the package from the local firm, David Schwarz. David’s package wasn’t ordinary at all. In fact, it was a 272 page hardbound book,weighing in at a hefty 4.2 pounds. And it was gorgeous. The photos in in are simply stunning. As soon as I received it, I walked around my office and showed everyone ("Can you believe this?"). Still to this day, I can’t think of any prospective company that’s sent me anything as stunningly beautiful as that book. In fact, while the other architectural firms packages are long gone, this book still sits on my shelves.
Even though it’s been four years since I first opened that book, I can still see my favorite image in my mind’s eye.
Now, think about this. The architectural fees on this project were projected to be north of $1M. Realizing that, don’t you think every architectural firm would want to WOW a potential client with more than a typical report oriented package? Absolutely. But how many do? Not many.
And this is true for most businesses. The typical thought process, usually driven by account types (and yes, I was an accounting major at UW-Madison) is to spend the least amount possible on acquiring a new customer. But spending the least, isn’t always the wisest choice.
As soon as you or I consider the lifetime value of a customer, plus all of the other people they’ll tell about our products and services (provided we actually do WOW them), there’s no question that it’s worth spending a little more to acquire and retain a customer.
So, in your business, what would WOW a potential customer? What can you give them or send them that would take their breath away? Or what might cause them to immediately tell others, "You won’t believe what XYZ company sent me today?" Ordinary companies benchmark their competitors and do something similar. But remarkable companies do something different. They look at what everyone else is doing and say, "We can do better than that!"
Note: While we originally selected David Schwarz, we came to realize that choosing an architectural firm that specialized in large church facilities was a better choice for us so we ended up choosing Beck out of Dallas and were thoroughly happy with them. So don’t read anything into my earlier comments other than that David’s firm’s 272 page, 4.2 pound book was a WOW I’ve never forgotten. I think highly of both firms and would recommend either firm to anyone considering an architect. At the end of the day, selecting the right architectural firm is about fit–and not just the talent fit for a specific type of project but also the relational fit as well, which can’t be determined from a book or a report. That kind of fit is only discovered face-to-face, when you start working together. And in an architectural project, that fit really does matter as you’re probably going to be spending a whole lot of time together :-)