On Being Remarkable

I’ve just spent the past three and a half years (on and off) working for Eurotunnel Le Shuttle (the fastest way to cross the Channel!) as a contractor in their marketing department. I’ve have a great time working there, but alas, as these things do, my time there has run it’s course.

One thing that I’ve left behind is an idea, that initially I thought was relatively unique to Eurotunnel, but on thinking about it more in the last week or so, should really apply to a much wider audience. The idea came about after, upon my walks to work, I started listening to a lot of audiobooks about marketing (and more specifically neuro-marketing – more about that soon!). Whether by subconscious design, or luck, some of these books dovetailed neatly together and brought me to a point where I was able to start articulating what I felt had been missing from Eurotunnel’s marketing – there was no coherent ‘why’ to what they were doing.

This is not to say that what we were doing was wrong, a lot of what I worked on, certainly in the last eighteen months there has been groundbreaking, but it struck me that, overall, it was all very functional. Get people in their cars on the trains. There was no ‘filter’ to the messaging, no concrete idea of ‘why’ they were there. Simon Synek articulates this idea very well in this TED talk, and it got me to thinking about what Eurotunnel’s ‘why’ is. The problem is, I couldn’t really identify it. I even went back to the old Hansard documents of the 1970’s debates with Margaret Thatcher et al. discussing the need for the Tunnel. But that was all I found, a need (increase the flow of traffic through the channel ports), not a ‘why’.

Now, many years ago, as a fresh-faced school-leaver, I spent a year before heading off to university working for Balfour Beatty Power, based at Shakespeare Cliff near Dover, tracking every single cable that was installed in the Channel Tunnel. I got to see first hand the building of one of the greatest feats of engineering of the 20th century, and it blew me away. It was incredible.

So it struck me that if there wasn’t a specific ‘why’ for Eurotunnel, maybe we could invent one. After all, if it could make it into the seven wonders of the modern world, it has to be pretty special. So I hit upon the notion that Eurotunnel’s ‘why’ should be that it is remarkable. A quick check of the dictionary bore this out: “worthy of attention; striking – worthy of comment”. Yes, the Channel Tunnel is certainly that.

I shared the idea with the team, although I don’t know how this will shape their future marketing, as it was at this juncture a couple of weeks ago that I bid adieu to the team there, but I hope they will implement it, if only for what I’ve thought about since then.

It has dawned on me in the past week or two that, really, everything we do should have a remarkable filter. Every tweet, every beat of a screenplay, every advert, every shot of a film, every post on Facebook.

We need to permanently be asking ourselves the question; ‘Is this remarkable?’ Is it really worthy of comment? Will this delight the people that are going to read/watch/listen to it? If not, get rid of it and find something that is.

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