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A List Of Alternatives To Winning

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

Alternatives To Winning

  • Caring
  • Helping
  • Being human
  • Growing wiser
  • Inspiring others
  • Righting wrongs
  • Upholding values
  • Giving generously
  • Learning patience
  • Prioritising values
  • Practicing empathy
  • Building community
  • Leading thoughtfully
  • Acting with integrity
  • Exploring possibilities
  • Encouraging progress
  • Making a contribution
  • Teaching perseverance
  • Fostering collaboration
  • Experiencing fulfilment
  • Working towards mastery
  • Changing how people feel
  • Questioning the status quo
  • Putting people before profits
  • Creating the future you want to see
  • Doing work you’re proud to have done

It turns out there are more ways to matter than just winning. We get to choose which boxes to tick.

Image by Odwalker

One Or All?

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

The blackboard on the pavement outside the florist reads; ‘Flowers for ALL.’

It’s a busy spot with plenty of foot traffic, behind a tram stop, a few doors down from the hospital. Maybe that’s why they’re marketing to everyone, instead of trying to resonate with someone. The marketing speaks to passers-by. But it doesn’t consider why they’re passing by, where they’re going, at what time, on which day. The message doesn’t invite the prospective customer to see how the act of buying flowers could change their day or even their week.

What would happen if the florist altered the message on the blackboard every day or even three times a day? There’s no doubt Monday morning’s marketing would be different from Friday afternoon’s. Perhaps, inspiring the office worker to brighten her desk for the week, or inviting the tired junior doctor to get his weekend off to a good start by surprising his partner.

As marketers, we have two choices, we can say something for the sake of saying something, or we can say the thing that will change something.

What would you write on your blackboard?

Image by Florian Lehmuth


filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

It isn’t just your mind that responds when you get an email with the subject line ‘urgent’ or ‘important’. Your heartbeat increases, your muscles tense and your breathing gets faster. You feel bad. Your day is thrown off course, if only for a moment. We hate these emails and resent people who fail to communicate with empathy. And yet our marketing is designed to create urgency. An online search for ‘how to create a sense of urgency’ yields 34 million results. In a commercial world, there is an appetite for knowing how to raise alarm.

How you convince and communicate, is just as important as the way your products are made or your services delivered. The measure of your company isn’t only your conversion rate, profit margin or some other conventional way of keeping score. The measure is how it felt to cross your path. Your goal is to be as proud of the way you’re building, as you are of what you’re building.

Krists Luhaers

Knowing What You Don’t Know

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

The most unhelpful assumption we make as marketers is that our customers know why they need our products or services. From there we think our job is to offer proof—to tell people why we are the best alternative. The first rule of innovation, sales and marketing is to understand the customer’s pain points (often before the customer knows them) and then to show her what life will be like in the presence of your product.

Your success is often determined by knowing what you don’t know about your customers, and by being aware of what they don’t grasp about their problems. Double down on understanding before offering proof.

Image by UN Women

What’s Beyond Reach?

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

When U2 perform a stadium concert, their reach is the entire audience of 60,000 eager fans. As he sings the first note, Bono understands his job is to create an emotional connection with every member of the audience. If the concert goer isn’t changed by the experience, then she might as well have stayed at home and listened to the album on her iPod.

In a commercial world, we spend the majority of our time trying to reach people—often measuring our success by counting the numbers of people who receive our fliers, browse our products or view our pages. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that ‘reach’ is never the end goal. It’s simply the starting point on the road to delivering value and creating an impact.

What’s the real marker of your influence or progress?
Are you investing resources in the things you want to change?

Image by U2 Start

The Forgotten Marketer

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The best marketer I ever knew was a magician. Literally. John Knight was legendary, and not just amongst children. His act was the highlight of birthday parties and community events. He could keep a group of sugar high children transfixed. But he also knew a big part of his job wasn’t the magic tricks—it was his ability to reassure and take pressure off frazzled parents come party day.

John Knight’s magic tricks varied very little, and that didn’t matter. His real magic was empathy for his paying customer. Everything he did, from confirming the booking, to turning up early and herding kids to the table to sing happy birthday, said; ‘I see you,’ to his customer. The skill was in how he did it. The way he showed up—his way.

Of course, at the end of the party, John had six more bookings. No advertising required. His work was his message. In a world where we’ve become obsessed with followers and followings, likes and shares, simply doing a great job is underrated. Your work can be your message.

Image by Oliver Gouldthorpe

Perfect Ten

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

When we think of our work or products and services, we imagine the perfect ten version of them. The days without a wrinkle, when we are in the zone, and everything is running like clockwork.

Striving for ten while knowing it’s rarely achievable is not easy. The ability to live that paradox is how we make progress and create change—by the millimetre. Showing up to do our best, even when we wish it were better.

Image by Andrea Passoni

The Art Of Differentiation

filed in Brand Story, Success

We, humans, have always been good at noticing what’s compelling about others. Our species’ survival has depended on our ability to recognise strengths and weed out weaknesses. Today, that skill leads us down the road of unhealthy comparison. We have no trouble rattling off the positive attributes of a colleague, competitor or even the guy working out next to us at the gym. And yet we struggle to be as generous about our own.

It’s fine for Roger Federer to study a competitor’s gameplay before they go head-to-head because he needs to respond tactically in the moment. But the majority of Federer’s winning shots come from understanding his strengths and working on what he does well. Becoming more of who he is gets him over the line.

It’s doubtful that comparing yourself or your work to someones else’s will get you to where you want to go. Whether as an individual or a brand—you can’t own your unique identity if you’re spending the majority of your time looking over your shoulder. Differentiation happens when you authentically amplify the best of you. Not by finding ways to be a version of the competition, but by discovering how to be more of who you are. That’s where your search for clarity needs to begin.

Image by Marianne Bevis


The Power Of Constraints

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

What’s the best thing about the place where you live?
What word describes your favourite book?
What’s the first thing you tell a friend when you recommend a special restaurant?
What standout experience made your last holiday memorable?
What’s the main reason you shop where you do?
What’s the biggest benefit of flying with this airline and not that one?
Why choose Apple over Android? Coffee instead of tea? Vanilla above chocolate?

If you could tell a prospective customer just one thing about your product or service—what would that one thing be? Constraints can be a powerful way to get to the heart or what’s important to both you and the people you hope to serve.

Image by Edwin Bachetti

What The Best Marketers Know

filed in Marketing

The call centre operator insists ‘this is not a cold call’. She knows time is running out, so she desperately accelerates her sales pitch—speaking without pausing to either breathe or listen. She was trained to believe it’s possible to close the sale if she can just impart all the information in her script. Sadly, she’s been misled.

The best marketers know permission is a requirement, not an option.
That people rarely make decisions based on the facts
And stories create value.

The best marketers know patience trumps pressure and trust takes time.
That generosity and empathy are underrated.
And there is no shortcut to mattering.

The best marketers know every day starts with a choice.
That we can choose to be the best or take the shortcut.
Which will you choose today?

Image by World Bank