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More Powerful Than Tactics

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing, Success

Marketing tactics change weekly. It’s not hard to get thrown off course by the sense you’re being left behind. What should you devote your energy and resources to next? Which new social media platform is worth investigating and why? Is it worth attending networking events? What will your return on investment be?

The new tools and tactics are easy to learn and automate, what’s harder, scarcer and more valuable is the intention that guides the work we do, the service we deliver, the attitude we adopt and the meaning we hope to create. Value is increasingly created by experiences and interactions that are not easily replicated. The cookie cutter approach to innovation, storytelling and marketing is overrated. The more deliberate we can be about carving out our difference the better.

What’s the difference you want to make?
Why is this important to you?

You need to know this before you write a line of code or a word of copy and before you send that sales email or plan your next marketing campaign.

Image by Danel Solabarrieta.

The Shortcut To The Sale

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

Yesterday I watched a woman squirm as she was being upsold two post-treatment skincare products priced at $300 by her beauty therapist. Think about the context here. She’d just spent an hour with the therapist, giving her permission to ask questions others can’t ask and allowing her to touch parts of her others never see. The client’s vulnerability is laid bare in a treatment room. This is a high trust situation. The therapist leaves her to dress and then meets her outside waiting to take payment—this is when the switch happens.

“These are the two post-treatment creams I want you to use. They will accelerate the results of your treatment today.” the therapist says, sliding two sleek boxes, minus price tags across the counter towards the client. It’s embarrassing to ask the price of the creams or to admit she’s not sure she wants them, especially when they are positioned as required and not optional. Yes, the therapist had permission, she earned the privilege to speak to the customer—then she promptly went and abused it, betraying all the trust she had worked so hard to obtain.

Even us marketers sometimes find marketing slightly distasteful because we know we’re not always doing things that are in the customer’s best interests—things we’re not proud to have done. We know in our heart of hearts when we’re treating people in ways we would find disingenuous, irritating or embarrassing if the shoe were on the other foot. And yet we take the shortcut to the sale instead of the long way round to mattering.

Like the two-sided coin, every moment is an opportunity to choose the right thing over the easy thing. If you’re reading this I know which one you’re shooting for.

Image by Mislav Marohnić.

The Best Kind Of Self-Promotion

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

A new group fitness instructor arrives to teach a class at the gym. He’s an unknown quantity, but a few people give him a shot. Within a month his class is either packed or half-empty. The instructor who is struggling to get the numbers announces details of his upcoming classes at the end of each session. The one with a full house doesn’t need to utter a word.

The difference isn’t that the most popular instructors are more professional or technically proficient—it’s that the people who take part in their classes leave feeling glad that they came.

The feeling we leave our clients and customers with (about themselves and not us) as they walk out the door is the best self-promotion money can’t buy. No amount of pleading and persuading beats the delivery of an exceptional experience that the customer wants to repeat.

Image by Edson Hong.

Three Steps To Telling Better Product Stories

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

When it comes to marketing our products and services there are a couple of storylines we fall back on. We either invite prospective customers to look at our impressive features and benefits or urge them to notice how much better our product is than anything else that exists in the category. Those tactics may have worked in the old two-channel world when customers were less distracted and had fewer choices, but they don’t cut through now.

The much more effective alternative is to anchor your customer in his world, starting with his story.

How To Begin Telling Better Product Stories

1. Speak to one person.
2. Anchor him in his current imperfect reality.
3. Show him what his new desired reality could be in the presence of your product.

See how Google does this brilliantly with a great piece of product storytelling.

Not only does this alternative strategy make us better marketers, it also helps us to be more empathetic to our customers—which makes for better products and experiences for the people we serve.

If you want to become a better marketer and brand storyteller, join us next week on the upcoming
Story Strategy Course.

Image by Hsuanya Tsai.

Beyond Attention

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The black-gloved sales assistant in the jeweller’s window is busy polishing the stones in every ring. Totally absorbed in her task, she starts with the rubies, moves on to the emeralds and finishes with the diamonds. She carefully places them exactly two centimetres apart on velvet lining.

The stones sparkle under perfect lighting as the first customer pushes open the door. The two sales assistants glance up from their mugs of tea, then get back to their conversation.

We mistakenly expend most of our effort attempting to get people to take notice, polishing the stones, thinking our work is done. How much better would our marketing be if we stopped making attention the endgame and acknowledged that the real work of marketing is what comes next?

Image by Nefraton.

5 Ways To Be A More Resourceful Marketer

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The problem with most marketing is that it not only feels inauthentic to the customer, it also relies on tired old tactics that do the opposite of what the marketer intended. It interrupts instead of inspiring, disconnects instead of delighting. We can do better.

How To Be A More Resourceful Marketer

1. Pretend you have a marketing budget of zero dollars.
What would you do today to reach five new customers who would be thrilled to hear from you?

2. Stop looking over your shoulder at what your competitors or colleagues are doing.

Think about why you want to grow your business. What is your intention? What are you on a mission to do? Write it down.

3. Empathise with your customer.

Don’t think of your customers as a homogenous group. Think about one person who needs your product or service. Write down six things about him that are completely unrelated to your product or service. What did you learn? How does this change your marketing strategy?

4. Create your own definition of ‘good marketing’.

What does great marketing look, sound and feel like? Can you think of some examples that made you want to connect more deeply with a business or brand? What did they do differently?

5. Think small—avoid speaking to the market of everyone.

What’s the least number of customers you need to attract to build a sustainable business?
Who are they? Where are they? Why will they be delighted to hear from you?

We don’t have to be bound by industry standards and cookie cutter marketing formulas.
We get to choose how we tell our story.

Image by Thomas Hawk.

The First Step To Mastering The Art Of Brand Storytelling

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

There are more than a dozen places to buy coffee in the commuter belt adjacent to Southern Cross Station. You can choose from artisan roasters, international cafe franchises or convenience stores and pay as little as $1 or as much as $5 for a takeaway coffee—all within 30 metres of the station. So how do people choose?

It’s clear that each cafe tells a very different brand story using price, design, location and more to communicate to the particular customer they want to attract and serve. The perception of value drives some customers. Others are drawn by convenience, the ambience of the venue or simply the ritual that feels best. Each customer has a different worldview about the value of a $5 coffee. And yet if you stood on the pavement outside the station you’d find it hard to tell those customers apart.

So where does a business owner begin? The first step to attracting (and keeping) the customers you want is to understand what it is they want. What do they believe in, care about or fear? Where do you come in? Your business can’t fulfil the unspoken desires and unmet needs of a customer you haven’t fully understood.

The biggest challenge to telling better brand stories isn’t that we don’t have a story to tell. It’s that we’re not telling a story that matches the worldview of our prospective customers. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is if you don’t understand the worldview of the person who will buy it. The first step to mastering the art of brand storytelling and being a better marketer is to stand in your customer’s shoes.

I created the Story Strategy Course to enable you to do exactly that. If you want to find more ways to resonate with customers and differentiate from your competitors. If you’d like to understand where to devote your marketing resources and why. If you’d like to simply get better at telling the story of the value you create this course will show you how.

Registrations are open now. We start at the end of the month. If you’re ready to take the first step to telling a better story, I hope you’ll join us.

Image by Linh Nguyen.

The Best Opportunity

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

One of the best things about our family’s move to Melbourne two years ago has been the rediscovery of local shopping strips. In beautiful Perth, where we lived for ten years, our grocery shopping involved a car trip to one of the dominant, big chain supermarkets. In Melbourne, we live a two-minute stroll from a tiny local bakery and an organic grocery shop. Needless to say, I’m in the organic shop every day (sometimes twice) for something—fresh bananas for morning smoothies or a forgotten herb for dinner. The range and quality of the food are excellent, and the staff are pleasant—but their smiles never quite reach their eyes. Like many of the other regular customers who pop in daily or weekly I’m not greeted by name, in fact, it almost feels like I’m a brand new customer every time I shop there. What a missed opportunity!

In life and business, we’re often guilty of pursuing the next opportunity—those elusive two birds in the bush. We ignore the moment that is staring us in the face right now to embrace an advantage or make a difference.

The organic shop doesn’t need to work for my loyalty because it’s convenient, but they should be working harder for my love. As business owners, we innovate and market to sustain tomorrow’s growth—while sometimes ignoring the opportunity to create an impact today.

The best opportunity might be the one we have our back to at this very moment.

Image by G. Morel.

When Does Your Marketing Start?

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The conventional definition of marketing describes it as the activities we do to promote sales of products or services. If we accept this definition, then the bulk of our marketing is done once we’re ready to sell our product.

Tactics like list building, data collection, content creation, social media outreach, networking events and leaflet drops might make us better promoters, but they don’t make us better marketers. Unlike the gelato seller who relies on sweltering summer days and the tinkling music from his van to make hay while the sun shines—the best marketers understand that marketing is not just about building awareness. It’s about establishing trust on the road to creating meaning and forging connections, loyalty and love. The kind that makes people queue for a $5 cone even on the coldest winter day.

Your marketing starts with your intention to create products and services that make a difference to the people you serve.

Image by Sebastian Rieger.

What You Want To Say Vs. What People Need To Hear

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

Every one of us has a story to tell—something we want someone to hear. So we begin crafting our messages by prioritising our need to be heard. The irony is the best way to make an idea resonate is not to start with all the things you need to get off your chest, but instead to think about who’s listening and what they need to hear.

Before you send the email, write your sales copy or draft that proposal stop for a moment to consider what the person who will read it is doing, thinking and feeling right now.

What would you say to him if you were looking him in the eye in that moment? Start there.

When we get this right, it’s the difference between a music player with a 5 GB hard drive and 1000 songs in your pocket. And more importantly, it creates a world full of intentional and thoughtful ideas, stories and connections we can be proud of.

Image by Sebastian Rieger.