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All Figured Out

filed in Brand Strategy

It’s doubtful that when Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, now the world’s wealthiest man, launched the company over twenty years ago he had every tactical move figured out. The Bezos of 1999 couldn’t have predicted how his company would come to dominate and diversify. While he may not have understood the exact next step on the journey, Bezos did have a mission and a set of guiding principles upon which he would build and lead his company.

In his 2018 annual letter to shareholders Bezos reiterated the importance of Amazon’s approach.

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of our first shareholder letter, and our core values and approach remain unchanged. We continue to aspire to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, and we recognize this to be no small or easy challenge. We know there is much we can do better, and we find tremendous energy in the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Even if you don’t aspire to build the next Amazon, there’s a lot to be learned from their philosophy. A compass is more useful than a map when you’re navigating new terrain. You need to know why you want to go someplace before you can work out exactly how to get there.

Image by Freshwater

Easy Isn’t Always Best In The Long Run

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

The billboard outside the old cemetery read like a real estate advertisement.

‘Last remaining graves for sale.’ It seemed to scream inappropriately at the traffic roaring past.

In the past, these local burial plots would have been acquired by neighbouring families who were getting their affairs in order. Now even essential products and services have competition.

There’s no doubt that a billboard is a great way to capture everyone’s attention. But it may not be the best way to engage with the people you want to matter to.

It’s important to prioritise best above easy whatever you’re selling—especially if your customers will be around to do business with you again tomorrow.

Image by Natash Ramasamay

Profit And…

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

My mother started working over sixty years ago. As the tenth child of a widow, with nothing more than a basic education she had very few choices. She could be a seamstress or a replaceable cog on the assembly line at one of any number of factories. Sadly the factory jobs won because those jobs were easier to get and didn’t involve apprenticing at a reduced wage. At the age of fourteen, she spent eight hours a day dipping toffees into icing at a sweet factory. She later graduated to standing guard over huge fryers of potato crisps. She and her friends lived for Friday’s brown paper envelope—the contents of which bought a little joy at the weekend.

A career needs to sustain us, and a business needs to make a profit to be sustainable. It could be argued that in recent times we’ve built our economies on the premise that profiting is the only function of business. But the businesses that are thriving have found a way to be about more than just a means to that end. Companies like Airbnb, Patagonia or Small Giants that put contribution and community at the centre of their business model and philosophy. Yes, your business needs to turn a profit, but that doesn’t have to be the only thing your company is committed to making.

My mother didn’t have a choice about how she could contribute. She didn’t have the privilege of thinking beyond earnings. We do. We have never had more power to take ownership of the present or to shape the future than we do today. We can start by figuring out what we intend to make besides money.

Image by Paul Townsend

More What?

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

All marketing is an attempt to amplify.

The story we tell and the marketing we do depends on our priorities. Do you want to be more visible, more trusted, more respected, more desirable, more loved or something else?

Begin with that end in mind and craft your message accordingly.

Image by Jason Ogden

The First Rule Of Customer Creation

filed in Brand Strategy

Humans learn to develop empathy in the first year of life. We not only learn to recognise emotional reactions in others but also to understand what’s causing those reactions. One toddler will try to comfort another who is crying—not just with any toy, but with that child’s favourite toy.

We know how to stand in the shoes of others. We’re hardwired to do it. We’re good at it.
And yet, when it comes to the business of sharing or selling ideas, we forget to practice it.

Our first step to becoming the one customers choose is to be the one who chooses to see the customer.

Image by Donnie Ray Jones

How Are You Measuring Your Lead?

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

As a society, we have become obsessed with getting and staying ahead. We have become addicted to winning, and thus to comparing ourselves to others—not just in business, but in life too.

But being ahead, either materially or psychologically is a slippery slope to a mindset of never enough. A culture designed to separate us into winners and losers inevitably becomes one where we’re not winning unless someone else is losing. This limited worldview is a limiting foundation for our societies and our economies, our communities and our businesses. It’s also a poor measure of humanity and the change we are capable of creating.

Perhaps the bigger question to consider then is not how we measure our lead, but why we feel the need to compete and compare in the first place. It turns out that when we can set our own meaningful standard of success, we’ve already won by every measure.

Image by Kreg Steppe

Done Right Is Better Than Perfect

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

Last week, someone—a person with a business, a living to make and maybe mouths to feed, took time to find the contact form on my website to send me this message.

Hello
Are you an online marketer, do you own a business or businesses?

I was just looking at your website.
Do you want real visitors to your website or SEO for social marketing?

-Visitors Come From Facebook
-Real Traffic Will Come From the USA and Europe 24/7
-This Is Lifetime Traffic

==Just for reference, you can see our work here== [hyperlink removed]

Behind this message are business goals, hopes and dreams that have little chance of being realised because the sender opted to take a shortcut.

You’ve probably heard Sheryl Sandberg’s sage advice to entrepreneurs; ‘Done is better than perfect’. I think we need to qualify those words. Done right is better than perfect. If you haven’t got time to do the groundwork to tell the right story to the right person, then that’s a wasted opportunity. Your work is worthy of the effort it takes to go the long way around.

Image by US Embassy

The Difference Between Good And Great

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

The tiny Italian restaurant in Carlton is in full swing. It’s 6 pm, and a couple of experienced chefs are cranking out meals. The kitchen is a well-oiled machine, the oven is at capacity, as diners and Uber Eats drivers converge at once. The food is good. It’s just not great—unlike the food served at the Italian place we recently discovered in Auckland.

On the face of it, there’s little to differentiate the chefs in the two restaurants. Both teams work mostly silently and efficiently. They are well prepared, and everyone understands the role they play in making sure diners leave sated and satisfied. But there’s one thing the chefs in Auckland do that makes all the difference. In Carlton, nothing is tasted before it’s plated. In Auckland, the chefs taste everything without exception before they plate it. They are making a hundred micro-decisions about how to delight their customers every few minutes and adjusting as they go. That single act means they have to put themselves in the diner’s seat for a second. They have to imagine what it will feel like to experience their product. And that makes all the difference.

Good becomes great when we put the customer at the centre of everything we do.

Image by visitflanders

Attention Is A Byproduct Of Affinity.

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

The truest words ever spoken about storytelling were those of one of the greatest storytellers of our generation. J.K. Rowling once said—’No story lives unless someone wants to listen.’

As people who are anxious to change the world, what we try to do is make people listen. But there’s another equally important truth about storytelling that’s often overlooked. No person listens unless they care about what’s being said. Our job then is to tell stories that help people to care first so that they might listen later.

We can’t tell stories that resonate unless we understand the worldview of the people we’re hoping to help or change. We do better when we remember that attention is a byproduct of affinity.

Image by Dima Barsky

Victims Of Success

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

We’ve all been let down by a business we were loyal to or disappointed by a product we once loved. When we dissect what happened, it’s often possible to trace the missteps to a single source. Thriving businesses become victims of their success, and great products become mediocre when the people who built them forget how they got from there to here.

No matter how successful you become, the often intangible qualities that differentiated you in the beginning, will continue to be what keeps customers coming back.

Image by pkhamre

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