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Design Your Business For The Outcome You Want

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

Think about a delighted customer and the ten people she will interact with today.

What’s the story you want that customer to share with someone about you, your product or service?
How do you want them to describe the change you enabled?
What words do you want them to use?
How do you want them to feel?

Now think about all of the things you spent your time on today.

Are the things you’re working on helping you to get to the place you described above?
What needs to change for you to get to where you want to go?

Image by Andrey

The Two Questions At The Heart Of Great Marketing

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

The kind of marketing we practice is a result of what we’re most curious to know about our customers. Many marketing campaigns are created by asking the following questions:

A. What will they buy?
B. How can we get them to buy?

The resulting tactics become about near-term targets, buying more attention and competing on price. The brands that succeed in telling stories that resonate start by asking different questions:

A. Why do they buy?
B. How do they buy?

Successful brands like IKEA and ZARA started with the right questions. Their marketing strategy centres around long-term goals, creating loyalty and building brand equity. They care enough to do the hard work of anticipating the customer’s needs and fulfilling her sometimes unspoken desires.

We get to decide what questions are worth asking.

Image by Marcus Linder

A Tale Of Two Managers

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

My local bank manager, at the branch five minutes walk from my home, works hard to help customers navigate the bank’s new automated systems and services. He’s on hand to show everyone depositing cash how to bypass a teller and make a deposit using the machine in the foyer.

The bank manager at the branch where I choose to bank (three suburbs and a thirty-minute tram ride away), works hard to get to know his customers. He chooses to man the customer service desk so that he can hear his customer’s stories. He knows his customers by name and prioritises understanding their goals before serving them. He prides himself on making sure they are paying less interest and incurring fewer fees.

Both managers care, but there’s a subtle distinction in how they choose to serve. The second bank manager wins because he cares less about finding customers for his products and more about finding the right products for his customers. And he goes home knowing that he’s done work he’s proud to have done.

Image by Spixey

How Matters

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Worldview

The woman clearing tables in the Qantas airport lounge is almost invisible to the many preoccupied travellers she cleans up after. People are anxious to charge their devices, grab a bite to eat and catch their flights. The lounge attendant scrapes plates of half-eaten food and piles them on a trolley to take back to the kitchen. Sometimes people stop to ask her where they can get a drink or an extra spoon, but they don’t really see her.

Out of the corner of her eye, she notices a passenger, his feet awkwardly perched on the table, balancing a Macbook on his knee. It’s a bad angle to work at, but at least he’s got a socket and WiFi. Two minutes later, the attendant appears in front of him with a low stool to rest his feet on. She helps him to turn his chair, so he’s not straining his back while he works. Then she silently returns to wiping tables and clearing plates as the travellers busy themselves all around her.

You may not always get to choose the work, but how you do it is always a choice.

Image by Ian

Understanding The Arc Of Your Customer’s Story

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

The plot of every story begins with an inciting incident—the revelation of a problem the hero must overcome. Harry Potter’s offer of a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Cinderella’s invitation to the ball. Buzz Lightyear’s arrival on Andy’s birthday. Everything we know about the hero’s circumstances up until that moment is the backstory. The inciting incident compels the hero to act until the problem is resolved.

As entrepreneurs and organisations with products and services to sell we spend a lot of time collecting data and insights about customer demographics—their backstory. But it’s equally, if not more important to understand the inciting incidents of their story—the events or circumstances that drive your customers to act. What has sent them off on a quest to solve their problem? And what’s your role in helping them to resolve it?

Sometimes marketers use this powerful information simply to sell more of their product to people who don’t need it. Only today, I saw a picture of a giant chocolate bar on a billboard right outside the gym. The caption asked passers-by if they were ‘craving something’. Traditional chocolate manufacturers know the problem we’re trying to solve every January. The last thing they want is for those New Year’s resolutions to stick.

Our job is never to exploit the customer’s circumstances. It’s to help improve them where we can. No matter what we’re selling, we can’t serve the people we want to engage with or create change for the better unless we know what kind of quest those people are on.

Image by David Werner

Unlock the magic in your story now.

Get the free 20 Questions to ask before launching your Idea Workbook when you sign up for updates.