Before You Pitch

At the end of the event a small group gathered around the presenter. He had flown in from Europe the day before and was bound to be jet lagged. Despite that he had delivered an informative and inspiring keynote about how his company—one of the most powerful brands in the world, used customer insights to innovate.

A couple of people shook his hand and thanked him. The third guy to reach the top of the line began by explaining what his company did, mentioning that they were hoping to partner with the speaker’s brand. Next he pulled out his smartphone and started scrolling through screenshots of their product. The speaker glanced over his shoulder at the next person in the line apologetically.

Pitch guy was on a roll. He was face to face with a representative from one of the world’s leading brands and he didn’t want to waste the opportunity. He pressed on, making sure to communicate every last detail, without pausing for breath or to read the body language of the person he was pitching to. After five minutes he walked away with the speaker’s business card (clearly the goal he had set himself), which of course must have felt like a win. In the process of scoring that quick victory he forgot the first rule of pitching.

Before you try to make yourself understood, you need to work out why the person you are pitching to will care about what you have to say. We have all been pitch guy at one time or another. Typically when we pitch or sell we are primarily concerned about what we want the person on the receiving end to do next—give us his card, invest, make an introduction and on and on. What we really should be asking ourselves first is;
“Why exactly will what I am about to say next matter to this particular person?”

Just because someone heard what you had to say doesn’t mean it made an impression.

Image by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

The Ideal Business

Something unexpected happened while I was on the phone to my health insurer making a quick change to personal details. The operator threw me by asking if I wanted to reduce my cover (and thus, the annual premium).

“No sense paying a fortune for something you don’t need.” she said.

True—but when I began to dig deeper I found that the higher tier of cover bundles claims for IVF and pregnancy, with mental health, hip and knee replacements and cataract operations together. If you opt out of one, you opt out of all. I was being down-sold to a policy that would not entitle my family to claim in any of these categories, because of course they are the most expensive claims for the insurer to fund.

After her third attempt to get me to switch, I began to wonder if there was some kind of reverse bonus in place at this company. Did the operator get a bonus for persuading people to downgrade their cover, potentially saving the insurer a small fortune?

If we reduced our cover it was a win for their business, but was definitely not the right thing for our family (even if I won’t be needing IVF or pregnancy cover any time soon).

The ideal business is one where the right thing for the business, is the right thing for the customer.
Those businesses are few and far between.
That’s why we seek them out and when we find them, we stick with them.

Image by Garry Knight.

Most Marketing

Most marketing is designed to.…

Get attention in the moment.
Make people choose.
Create awareness among many.
Persuade people to decide.

Most marketing is not designed to.…

Build loyalty over time.
Make people care.
Create affinity with a few.
Help people to feel good about their decisions.

What makes your marketing unlike most marketing?

Image by Onny Carr.

Why We Have A Hard Time Communicating Value

No self-respecting (or smart) cafe owner would describe his drip-filter coffee as 85% boiling water. Instead he tells the origin story of the coffee beans and the slow pour-over brewing process that augments the flavour. The barista creates retail theatre while you wait in line.
We all know that the line is also part of the $4 coffee story.

We witness great brand storytelling every day and yet we still find it hard to communicate value to our customers.
Here are three reasons why.

3 Mistakes we make when communicating the value of our products

1. Starting in the wrong place.
We get hung up on explaining why we’re different before understanding what matters to the customer.

2. Leading with the facts and only communicating tangible value.

We describe features and benefits to justify the sticker price. This only serves to reduce products and services to the sum of their commoditised parts.

3. Overlooking that people buy with their hearts AND their heads.

We need to appeal to both.

Value is best communicated when it’s designed to be believed, not just described.

Image by Roland Tanglao.

The Most Powerful Thing You Didn’t Do Today

Have you ever been footsteps away from a window and yet found yourself opening an app or doing a Google search to check the weather, instead of simply going over to the window and opening the curtains? Me too! Why is that?

We are now in the habit of outsourcing our thinking and second guessing our judgement because the right answer is always just a Google search away.

There are so many more demands on our time, we prioritise responding and reacting to other people’s questions and have left very little time to think about what’s important to ask ourselves.

We allow ourselves to be consumed by other people’s lives, thoughts and content to the detriment of living, prioritising and creating our own.

What are your important questions and what could you achieve, in both work and life by choosing to give yourself the space to answer them?

Image by Rennet Stowe.

The 5 Building Blocks Of A Brand

A brand used to be an identifier, over the past seventy years it’s become so much more.
Seth’s 2009 definition says it best.

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

We can agree then that a brand is the meaning the customer attaches to a product or service from what she perceives. If PRODUCT + MEANING = BRAND, what creates the meaning?

5 Building blocks of a brand

1. What you (the founders and business owners) believe.
Your values, mission and vision.

2. Your voice—what you say and how you say it.
The words and tone you use to communicate your message.

3. What you do.
How you act.

4. How you make people feel.
Sometimes called user experience.

5. What you look like.
Logo, design choices, colours, seating, paper stock and on and on.

Branding is about how you facilitate the creation of meaning for your customers. The people you want to matter to need to be able to do more than recognise your brand, they need to know what it feels like to belong to it.

Image by Nina Jean.

The New Rules Of Winning

Just three months ago Volkswagen surpassed Toyota to become the world’s largest automaker.
It’s clear that selling more cars in order to beat that competition had been the company’s goal for some time. As we’ve seen in the past week biggest doesn’t necessarily mean best.

When we use shallow metrics to judge our performance we often fail to take account of things that are harder to measure, and yet are equally (if not more) important to building a sustainable business. When we get stuck in comparison we think about making incremental improvements, tweaking what’s been done before, instead of reimagining what’s possible.

Time and again in business we’ve seen that winners don’t compete—they reframe the problem, reinvent, create and conquer new challenges and run their own purposeful race.

Winning isn’t about being the biggest or beating the competition at all costs—it’s about intentionally changing tiny edges of the world for the better.

Image by Dark Dwarf.

How To Make People Care About Your Product

The maître d’ had worked at the same restaurant for thirteen years and was ready for a change.
He wanted to do work he was passionate about and decided to start a dog walking business—knowing that in order to succeed he needed to send a signal to prospective customers about how much their pets mattered.

His goal was to make people believe: ‘If this man is walking our dog, and there’s some sort of major disaster, he’s going to survive. He’s going to fish for those dogs. He’s going to build a bunker and shelter those dogs until it’s safe to bring them home.’

The marketing didn’t start with his story. It started with theirs.

The way to make people care is by first understanding what they care about.
Then you can tell the story you know they want to hear.

Image by Kristine Paulus.

The Generous Marketer

Implements long-term strategies, rather than relying on short-term tactics.

Puts the desires of the customer before the urgency of his business goals.

Knows that mattering to his customers is the key to success.

Cares about affinity, more than awareness.

Notices, before asking to be noticed.

Listens twice as much as he talks.

Does not interrupt you with a tag on your tea bag that contains a URL and reads;
“Join us on Facebook”.

We can all do better—we’ve just got to remember the value of taking the long way round.

Image by Thaths.

Two Kinds Of Feedback

A common way to get feedback is to describe what you’re creating in detail and then to ask a prospective customer if they would use it. This is equivalent to asking someone for an honest answer to the question, “Does my bum look big in this?”

Sometimes the answers we seek out are not the answers we need to hear.

There are two finds of feedback—that which you think is taking you where you want to go and feedback that actually will. It takes courage to look for the right kind.

Image by Chris Becker.

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