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Depth Over Reach

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

It’s pouring rain on the morning the free weekly lifestyle magazine is stuck through the railings of every home on every street in our neighbourhood. So the 20% of people who would normally flick through it over morning coffee won’t bother to open the magazine today. The soggy newsprint goes straight into the recycling bin. This is not the story the magazine’s ad sales team will tell prospective advertisers. Their data will talk up the power of building brand awareness and increasing reach as a reliable business growth strategy.

The recorded message outside the chiropractor’s office on Victoria Street interrupts every passer-by day or night. He can even reach those making their way home from a big night out at 2 am on Saturday at no additional cost. You just never know who might be walking past at any given moment. And there lies the problem—just like the lifestyle magazine, the chiropractor’s business growth strategy is focused on reach instead of depth. It prioritises the unknowns above the knowns. Both companies have decided that interrupting the most people is the safest marketing strategy. They are ignoring opportunities to deepen relationships with the people who are already interested or invested in their services because they mistakenly believe more is a shortcut to mattering.

How are you prioritising depth over reach in your business?

Image by Alfred Lui.

The Number One Way To Create Brand Awareness

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

There was something peculiar about the SoHo hotel where I stayed on my recent overseas trip. I didn’t see a single child for the length of my stay. Nowhere in their marketing does the management specify their property is unsuitable for children and yet because they are uncompromising about going all the way to the edges in everything they say and do—the potential customer knows.

The best way to create brand awareness is to make a product or service that’s designed to please a particular audience and to do it without compromising. That’s easy to say and hard to do. When you have two hundred rooms to fill and bills to pay, fear sets in and is closely followed by a compromise. That compromise not only dilutes the potency of your brand, it subconsciously creates a disconnect in the mind and heart of the right customer. You can’t imagine seeing a T-bone steak on the menu at a vegan restaurant. It would never happen under any circumstances. That’s the essence of great branding—to build something that feels like it’s just for a particular kind of person. Someone who wants their choices to reflect their values and to be made to feel like an insider.

Back to the SoHo Hotel. Everything from the size and layout of the guest rooms to beautifully lit communal lounges that doubled as coworking spaces and the items on the menu was intentional. The best way to create brand awareness is to understand who your product is for and to only speak to that person. Awareness isn’t about getting the most people to try your product. It’s about making something the right people fall in love with and can’t help talking about.

What are you doing to make your insiders feel like they belong?

Image by Yann Jouanique.

The Listening Marketer

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

When I was young, Maeve Binchy was one of my favourite writers. She had this knack of creating characters who came alive. You somehow felt the people who owned the shops and arrived late for mass were real, and you knew them. I learned later from listening to interviews with Binchy that they were—at least their conversations were real. Binchy told stories of riding buses every day just to listen to snippets of conversation. On one if these bus journeys she overheard a young woman telling her friend she was going shopping for a silver wedding anniversary card for her parents. The friend marvelled that at the longevity of her parent’s marriage. ‘They’re miserable as sin together,’ she replied. ‘The worse the marriage, the bigger the card.’ That conversation went on to inspire Binchy’s successful book, Silver Wedding. Hearing the author’s story reminded me of the hundreds of missed opportunities we have every day to succeed by paying attention to our customers. It also reminded me again to wonder why so many marketing books have a megaphone on the cover.

The sales assistant in the running shoe store works hard to convince his customer about comfort, quality and price. The customer doesn’t pay attention. When he finally chooses a pair of shoes, his rationale tumbles out. ‘I like these because you can’t get them back home in Manilla,’ he says. Your customers are no different from the guy in the shoe store. They want to be seen.

When you become a listening marketer you don’t have to guess what your customer wants, you already know. The listening marketer understands what’s motivating his customers to choose and what language will encourage them to buy. What the listening marketer does best of all is make and sell things people want because he’s been unselfish in the pursuit of doing work that’s meaningful to the people he cares about serving. If you’re not listening, you’re not marketing. You don’t need a megaphone to matter.

Image by Jeffrey Smith.

Where Does Your Story Start?

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

The easiest part of telling your story is writing it down. The hardest part is knowing what to say and why it’s important for your audience to hear. You must begin by wondering why someone (not everyone), will care about what you’re creating. That very act of questioning forces you to dig deeper and ask what you’re promising to whom. It invites you to get clear about why you wanted to make that particular promise in the first place.

As marketers, we believe it’s our words that create value. But it’s the intention that informs the decisions guiding those words that delights and thus differentiates. Getting clear on that intention is where your story starts.

Image by David Bleasdale.

Where Do Most Brand Stories Come Unstuck?

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

We spend a lot of time finding the right words—the ones that will differentiate us from our competitors and compel the right people to covet and click. And yet even though we’ve assembled the perfect words customers can still sense a disconnect. It isn’t our words in isolation, but the intention behind them and the values shaping them that makes a story either gel or fall apart.

When you see an advertising campaign that feels inauthentic or witness appalling customer care in action, it’s usually not because the company didn’t find the right words— but that they weren’t clear about their intention.

We can’t expect to speak and act in alignment with our values if we haven’t agreed on what those values are, why they matter and how they will manifest in the day-to-day operations of our business.

Most brand stories come unstuck in the doing, not in the telling.

Image by Chris Ford.

Unlock the magic in your story now.

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