What Change Are You Making?

The sales assistant at the pop up boutique glowed. She enthusiastically pulled things one at a time from the rails to show to the customer.

These pants will change your life,” she said.

I thought that was a huge claim to make about what seemed like an unremarkable pair of trousers, but when the woman emerged transformed from the fitting room I began to believe it might be true.

I love how long my legs look in these,” she said. “They are so comfortable and I can dress them up or down, they will be the only pants I pack for my next overseas trip!”

She was already standing taller and looking more confident—(it works).
The change happened in minutes right before my eyes.

When a great designer sits down to sketch he is thinking about more than how the pieces of fabric will be joined together at the seams, or how many units he needs to shift next spring. A truly great designer is thinking about the way his designs will change how a woman feels about herself when she wears them.

It’s possible to change a moment in someone’s day with a well-fitting pair of pants, a raw brownie, an excellent cup of tea or lines of code that make that moment easier, richer and better. Changed moments have a way of tumbling into one another, like dominoes that fall as if by magic in a domino run. If you’re changing a moment, you’re changing a life.

We’ve gotten used to selling ourselves, and our work short (both to the world, but most importantly to ourselves). We’ve allowed ourselves to be defined by narrow job descriptions, and what we do to be reduced to rational benefits. You are more than your job title—a barista, programmer, baker, logo designer, manufacturer or CEO, responsible for making something that works.
You are a change maker.

Often the hard part is understanding and then articulating the change you want to make.
We don’t spend enough time answering this question before we begin.

What change are you making?

You Are Not Apple, And That’s No Excuse


“That’s all very well, but we are not Apple,” says every CEO and entrepreneur, when a well-meaning colleague gives another Apple best practice example as a possible way forward.

No, you are not Apple and you don’t have to be.

There are a million ways to do meaningful work.

Owning the fact that it’s possible is how you begin.

Image by Steve Rhodes.

Problem/Product Fit

Before you write the code, buy the domain name, design the logo, rent the office space or print the business cards ask yourself these questions.

5 questions for every entrepreneur to answer

1. Who is your customer?
2. What does she want to do, but can’t?
3. How exactly does your product or service help her?
4. Why will she choose your product or service above your competitor’s?
5. How (in words and actions) will she tell people about it?

Don’t start with your product road map—start with your customer’s story.

Image by Tina Leggio

Who Do You Think Your Customers Are?

It was a beautiful spring day in one of the most coveted (and expensive), Melbourne suburbs to live (and buy a home) in. The tree-lined streets were beginning to sprout pink blossoms and the afternoon sun warmed the porches of restored Victorian homes.

There on one of those porches, behind a well-kept garden, in a favoured street, sat a man with his morning coffee in one hand and a coin that he was rubbing away on a ‘scratch and win’ lottery card in the other. He didn’t look up as we passed, he didn’t even notice us, or that fact that he had already won the lottery just by being able to sit right where he was.
The whole scene challenged my assumptions, that’s for sure.

It’s easy to assume that we know what people want because we know where they live, how old they are, what they earn and on and on. And just as valuable to look beyond demographics, segments and stereotypes to what the people we hope to serve do and why.

Image by Tina Leggio.

How To Avoid Getting Lost In The Crowd

lost in the crowdIt’s natural to want to create something for the most people we think we can reach. The runaway successes we aspire to emulate seem like they succeeded by appealing to everyone. But if you look a little closer you’ll find that even the big hits started at the edges.
Soul Cycle, Starbucks and Secret Garden weren’t for everyone.

Taking a stand, being this and not that, or choosing one option at the expense of another feels risky, but that’s exactly what we must do to avoid getting lost in the crowd.

There are a hundred different tactics that can help you to be found by everyone, and a handful of small choices that will make you meaningful to the people you really care about serving.
We know that a lover’s whisper is more powerful than a stranger’s bellow.
You get to choose which you want to be.

Image by Eric Sonstroem.

3 Things Your About Page Should Do

about pagesWriting an about page for your website is hard. The reason we get stuck is because we worry about what we need to write, instead of focusing on why we need to write it in the first place. Remember it’s less about blowing your trumpet or filling whitespace with information and more about helping your customer to get the information she is looking for.

Your about page needs to do three things:

1. BUILD TRUST

Your prospective customer has probably never met you, so it stands to reason that she’s looking for clues to help her understand why she should trust you. A photo, short back story about your professional credentials and testimonials from clients you have worked with will help. Add links to social media accounts, media releases, portfolio or case studies to support your story.

2. LET THE CUSTOMER KNOW THAT YOU UNDERSTAND AND CAN HELP HER

Your about page needs to show the customer you understand why she visited your website and that you can help her to do what she wants to do. Describe some of the problems she has, the challenges she is facing and the products and services you provide to fulfil her wants or address her needs.

3. SHOW PEOPLE HOW TO CONTACT YOU

Make it easy for the customer to take the next steps by adding your contact details or other calls to action like, ‘visit our store’ or ‘email us’.

Think of your about page as a service to your customer rather than a way to selfishly promote and you can’t go wrong.

Image by Alex O.

The Marketing Paradox

The goal of most marketing is to get people through the door, bums on seats and products sold.
Because much of our marketing effort is front-loaded it’s easy to believe that once we’ve closed the sale, we’re done. And so we latch on to stories of six-figure product launches and multi-million dollar capital raises—often making those the metrics we aspire to.

Getting people through the door is a tiny part of the work we do. The threshold is where the story starts. We need to devote twice as much time, thought, effort and care into continuing to woo customers once they have handed over their money as we do before they commit.

The biggest question facing us is not, “How we get people to buy?“
It is, “How to we earn the trust that keeps them?”

Image by Aikawa Ke.

The Best Brand Stories

best brand storiesThe best brand stories.…

Are experienced and felt.

Create affinity, not simply awareness.

Are perceived in micro-moments that are remembered, long after what’s pitched is forgotten.

Give people ways to belong, not just reasons to choose.

Are less about what the brand says and more about how the customer wants to feel.

In a digital world, where people are increasingly responding and reacting, rather than appraising and analysing, feeling trumps logic and telling is a tiny part of what we do.
Words matter, but actions speak louder.

Image by Walt Jabsco.

How All Marketing Should Be

This is the story of two homes that are for sale.

“Elegantly renovated, exclusive address. This gracious residence set amid professionally landscaped gardens (approx 600sqm), close to schools and parks, offers formal sitting room, expansive living dining, flowing onto the verandah.…..”

You get the idea. Contrast that with this one.

“This has been our home for 30 years, and the only home our children have known. Over the years it has been extended and remodelled to suit our changing needs and we think it is now the ideal family home.

We especially love the feeling of space and light in the dining-kitchen-living area and the ability to extend this space into the garden.…..We have enjoyed many joyful meals with family and friends in the garden, sitting around a table on the large patio.

We are very sorry to leave our wonderful neighbours—the street has a strong sense of community, and we have enjoyed being part of the lives of numerous young (and older!) families nearby.

We are now “empty nesters” and have to recognise that our children, who are scattered around the globe are unlikely to settle in Melbourne or bring grandchildren back to the “family home”. So we are downsizing and returning to our inner city roots. We will maintain one guest room for the children to visit!”

Of course you get the punch line. This isn’t two homes, but the story of one home told it two different ways. The smart real estate agent who is marketing the property gets his owners to write a short love letter to a prospective buyer and her emotions spill over—making the marketing real, and genuine and true.

All marketing can be this way.
When we stop looking outside for the ‘angle’ and start reflecting deeply about what matters to the people who will experience both our products and our marketing.

I know which home I’d want to buy.

Image by Christian Dülpers.

What’s The Endgame?

As anyone who has ever played chess will tell a beginner, every move must have a purpose.
You don’t move a piece unless you have a reason for doing so, or before you understand what the next move is likely to be, and the one after that (depending on how your opponent responds).
One single great move in isolation is not enough to keep you in the game.

And yet as business owners and leaders we make reactive moves all the time, often without linking those moves to our endgame.

Why exactly are you planning to expand your reach?
What’s the purpose of those scheduled tweets?
Why have you chosen to launch this product now?
If that works, where to next and why?

Everything you’ve done at your desk today and are going to do tomorrow, is a move with and end in mind—or it should be. Where are you hoping those moves you’re making will take you?

Image by Denis.

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