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The Limitations Of Marketing To Persuade

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

We assume sales and marketing are simply a case of fulfilling unspoken desires or unmet needs and making the people with those needs aware we’ve solved their problem.

But there’s another piece of the marketing puzzle we often overlook—the doubts our customers must overcome. People don’t just want to know that our products and services exist or how they are better. They also need reassurance that the product enabled the change they are seeking. What most people care about isn’t making the right decision, it’s making the wrong one.

We market to persuade, often forgetting the place of marketing to reassure.

How are you ticking the reassurance box?

Image by Art DiNo.

What’s On Your Y-Axis?

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

The strategy for any project or business and even our days, weeks and months could be plotted on a graph using an x-axis and a y-axis. What every endeavour has in common is time. This is plotted on the horizontal x-axis.

What we can change or influence is represented on the vertical y-axis. In a commercial world, we tend to measure the thing we are actively working to increase on the y-axis—dollars, revenue and profits, numbers of customers or users. Our y-axis is the place to plot the thing we want more of—something we want to change.

In 2009 Airbnb was struggling to gain traction, with a total weekly revenue of $200. The founders needed to do something to increase revenues dramatically if the business was to survive. They could have focused on getting more listings and more bookings, instead they doubled down on getting to know their hosts better, understanding how they could help them to succeed. They plotted customer success on their y-axis. This deliberate focus on helping hosts was a turning point in the business.

Every day begins with a quest for more. We’re all looking for ways to amplify our reach, grow our influence and increase our impact. It’s never been more important to be intentional about what’s on your y-axis.

Image by Sue Seecof

The Visibility Paradox

filed in Marketing

A bullet point list of tactics to increase your visibility might include; perfecting your elevator pitch, networking, forming strategic partnerships or creating a compelling press release. You don’t need to look far to see that we’re expending a lot of time and resources metaphorically waving our arms in an attempt to be seen. The irony is the best way to be seen is to get better at seeing.

When we become more interested, empathetic and generous, we not only see the opportunities others miss, we also do our best work in the service of others. There will always be a place in the world for, as broadcaster Krista Tippett says, ‘voices not shouting to be heard’. We build businesses we’re proud of by ignoring the noise and getting in touch with our humanity.

Image by Dell Inc

What Do You Need More Of In Order To Succeed?

filed in Brand Story, Success

If you had to pick one thing you need more of in order to succeed what would that be? Do you really need more time or more resources? Will more attention or more influence enable you to get to where you want to go?

When we dig deeper what we find we’re lacking isn’t cash or connections, it’s the courage and commitment to finish what we started. The story we tell ourselves and the lines we draw are a choice. What are you choosing to believe and act on today?

Image by Thomas Hawk

Attention Deficit

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

Worldwide ad spending for 2017 is expected to reach $583.91 billion. That’s an increase of 7.3% on last year. We spend extraordinary sums of money and disproportionate amounts of time trying to get people to notice us—often without being specific about the end we have in mind.

No business ever died from a shortage of attention. Companies and ideas fail because of a lack of resonance with the people they seek to serve.

Questions for you

How much attention is enough to sustain your business?
Are the time and money you invest in creating brand awareness converting to results?
What resources are you devoting to creation and connection that will help you to resonate?

Image by txmx2

Three Ways To Sell

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

If you want to get more comfortable about selling, it’s helpful to consider which of these three sales techniques you use and to assess how they’re working for you.


This is the most common way to sell—one you’ve likely experienced or used. Describing the specifications, features and benefits of our products and services is usually our default sales technique. We tell people what they get, how it works, what it does and how much it will cost.


There’s no doubt that customer success stories are a powerful way to explain the benefits of our offerings. Before and after case studies and testimonials help people to imagine what their future might look like or who they might become in the presence of our product.


By far the most overlooked and underutilised sales technique is to listen before pitching. It’s far easier to make something people want than it is to make people want something. We can only do this by understanding the stories, frustrations, challenges and goals of our prospective customers.

Empathy is underrated.

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The Art Of Customer Loyalty

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

How many store loyalty cards do you have in your wallet? How many more will you be offered this week? Do you still carry a wallet?

We’ve tried to turn customer loyalty into a data-driven science. A game of, if we do this, customers will do that. In our desire for something to measure, or a needle to move, we’ve lost sight of one crucial point. Our customers’ reactions and responses can’t always be conditioned in predictable ways. Loyalty is not transactional, it’s built on something we can’t measure—on how the customer feels.

Instead of creating our entire marketing strategy around what we want the customer to do, we could consider how we want the customer to feel. Science gives us data-driven loyalty programs and homogeneous points cards that people forget they signed up for. Art allows us to be remembered for our humanity and make meaning part of our marketing.

Image by Garry Knight

The Work And Reward

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

The customer is not there when the flowers he ordered to be delivered on a special birthday are sent too early without his handwritten greeting—which is still paperclipped to the order book. The florist gets on with processing the rush of early morning deliveries. It’s one of those days when she’s just too busy to care about every little detail. What the customer doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

The owner is not at the Italian restaurant on Bourke Street at 6 am when the window cleaner is training his new employee in the art of washing windows. He stands back, arms folded, observing—pointing out a smudge in the top right-hand corner of the big pane of glass. The trainee rubs it away—all the while learning about the standard he must uphold when no one is watching.

It’s a privilege to witness someone taking this much pride in what he does—work that many people might regard as menial or meaningless. It’s as if the work itself is the window cleaner’s reward. This is how we behave on our best days. We don’t make the distinction between what’s seen and unseen. We forget to make the connection between the work and some future payoff—money, attention or accolades. We simply do the best work we can for its own sake—rendering the work, ourselves and the world the better for it.

Image by Davide Gabino

The Opportunity In Shifting Expectations

filed in Brand Strategy

Your customers are changing. You are changing too. Notice how impatient we get now if we are second or third in a queue. In our world of one-click-ordering, instant downloads and movie streaming, we believe waiting is unacceptable. ‘Why can’t they just open more checkouts?!’

While it’s true that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, it’s important to have a strategy for managing expectations as your relationship with your customers develops over time. It’s easy to become complacent and fall into the trap of thinking what worked yesterday will work tomorrow. But as our customers evolve, we must too.

It’s never been more important to regularly question what’s changed and what needs to change.

Image by freestocks


Welcome To The Meaning Economy

filed in Brand Strategy

In the 1950s and 60s when my parents were entering the workforce they created value by working with their hands in an Industrial Economy. Workers manufactured and moved things that would be consumed. In the era of the Information Economy, we began using our heads to produce value. We learned to use computers to design, code and connect. Today we’re seeing a powerful shift towards the building of the Meaning Economy where the brands and businesses that thrive are the ones that enable us to work with our hearts as well as our head and hands.

Unlike my parents who worked to put food on the table, we now want to feel proud of the work we do and the companies where we work. It’s no longer enough to make money without meaning.

The Meaning Economy has also created a new kind of customer who is drawn to brands that share and enable him to express his values. We know how we spend our money and what we choose to get behind is a vote for the future we want to see. We support businesses that are generous and mindful of the impact they make.

We’re formulating a new value equation—one that rewards work that is carried out with heart and businesses that are driven by purpose before profits. Are you ready for The Meaning Economy?

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