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What Do Your Customers Thank You For?

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

As vulnerable humans, we’re brilliant at paying attention to threats in our midst. We are experts at mitigating against failure, which we trick ourselves into believing is the way to optimising for success. This tendency might explain our willingness to devote our resources to averting risk, solving problems and fixing mistakes.

When we focus on getting a near perfect score we sometimes overlook the opportunity to do more of what we already do well. It’s possible that regularly amplifying delight can produce better results than trying to avoid the random missteps that inevitably happen.

It’s just as important to pay attention to what makes your customers happy as it is to get to the bottom of complaints. What do you customers thank you for? Make a list. Then do more of that.

Image by Jeff Meyer

The Responsive Vs. Reactive Business Conundrum

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

Every sustainable business was built in response to an unmet need. These responsive businesses endure because they evolve with the customer they intended to serve. The likes of fidget spinner manufacturers don’t count. You can rattle off a dozen responsive companies that have launched in the past two decades, particularly in the digital space. Brands like Airbnb, Alibaba, Amazon, Uber, Warby Parker and Zendesk have thrived because they solved real problems and built products and services people wanted and came to love.

As startups and disruptors, responsive businesses begin on a level playing field strategically, what happens next depends on the path they take to achieve growth and scale. The companies that lose ground following some success are the ones that become reactive to the marketplace. Now, instead of staying true to their original intention to meet the needs of a customer with a particular worldview, the focus shifts to the competition. And bit-by-bit their priorities change and the strategy subtly shifts. Their ethos gets watered down. They start thinking, then behaving like their competitors, and they lose the edge that made them authentic, exciting and innovative—those qualities that attracted customers to them in the first place.

The business failures we witness at both local and global levels from Billabong to Kodak, are a result of a responsive business becoming reactive. Ironically the growth and scale we seek (no matter what size of company we run), happens when we remain true to our intention to do work we’re proud of in the service of people whose needs and desires are not being fulfilled. We’re witnessing a shift where incumbents like the big banks and chain stores also realise whoever gets (and stays) closest to their customer wins. Now more than ever, remembering and acting on that has got to be the number one priority for every business.

Image by Alan Levine

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

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