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The Power Of Constraints

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

What’s the best thing about the place where you live?
What word describes your favourite book?
What’s the first thing you tell a friend when you recommend a special restaurant?
What standout experience made your last holiday memorable?
What’s the main reason you shop where you do?
What’s the biggest benefit of flying with this airline and not that one?
Why choose Apple over Android? Coffee instead of tea? Vanilla above chocolate?

If you could tell a prospective customer just one thing about your product or service—what would that one thing be? Constraints can be a powerful way to get to the heart or what’s important to both you and the people you hope to serve.

Image by Edwin Bachetti

A World Built On Promises

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy

Today you woke in a bed the manufacturer promised would give you a good nights sleep. You ate something for breakfast that was made in a factory you have never visited or grown by someone you have never met.

You belted yourself into a car with a safety rating you have no way of verifying and drove to work on roads you didn’t inspect for potholes. You left your kids with teachers whose qualifications you have never seen.

You assumed the coffee the barista served you was decaffeinated, though you have no way of checking. And you drank tap water that you’ve never tested with your lunch.

You knew the free-range chicken you cooked for dinner was in date because the packaging said so. You didn’t question whether your broccoli really was organic because it came certified from a particular store.

You stacked and turned on the dishwasher knowing you would have clean spoons by morning. You set your alarm, certain it would wake you at the right time tomorrow as it always does.

We live in a world built on promises.
It only works when we each do our bit to make them and keep them.

Image by The 5th

How To Get Better At Pitching

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

Every day we fail to convince people about the value we can deliver. For every yes, we get ten no’s. Why? We’re quick to blame the quality of our ideas or our storytelling when we don’t succeed. But sometimes we fail because we’re speaking to the wrong person at the wrong time. Rejections often happen because we haven’t qualified the buyer before trying to close the sale, so we need to get better at doing the groundwork.

Five Questions To Answer Before Pitching

1. Am I pitching to the right person?
Often you’re pitching to someone who doesn’t have the authority to make the decision. Check.

2. What’s the underlying need (read fear) of the person I’m speaking to?
You must understand the client’s primary pain point before explaining how you can solve their problem. Question.

3. Is the prospective client ready to buy?
Sometimes the person wants to have a conversation about their challenge. They may not be in the market for a solution. Query.

4. Does your prospective customer’s budget align with your fee?
Make sure the numbers stack up before you have a conversation. Ask.

5. Why you (in particular)?
It’s important to know how the prospective client heard about you and why they felt compelled to contact you. A recommendation is different from a Google search. A reputation that proceeds you trumps stumbling on your LinkedIn profile. Enquire.

We spend a lot of time telling our story to people who have no intention of buying. As my friend James Victore says, your work is a gift. Make sure you’re devoting your energy to the people who do want your help.

Image by Steven Zwerink

The Value Of An Internal Brand Narrative

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

In a commercial world, we use stories tactically to convince and convert prospective customers. We work hard to change minds and capture hearts, with persuasive words and evocative images in an attempt to make an emotional connection with the people we want to reach. The stories we tell our customers form our external narrative.

We’re less aware of how the stories we tell ourselves shape our sense of meaning, purpose and agency about the journey we’re on. Our internal narrative creates value by helping us to make sense of the difference we’re here to create. It develops our brand’s identity, influences our behaviour and ultimately helps us to differentiate and realise our potential.

It’s easy to describe features and benefits and far harder to demonstrate what you stand for and why. Your goal should never be to invite a like-for-like comparison. It should always be to affirm the truth about what makes your brand incomparable and worthy of the customers you hope to serve.

Image by Arjun. V

Marketing Discernment

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

Much of our marketing is designed to convince or convert a customer in the moment. A particular colour applied to a ‘buy now’ button, the timely Instagram post or product placement at the checkout—tactics to get the lukewarm prospect over the line.

Our customer’s path to her decision is convoluted. It’s influenced by the story she tells herself. Her choices are shaped by regrets about the past, her challenges in the present and fears for the future. And yet, we market to her like she’s only considering the merits of what’s right in front of her eyes this second.

We mistakenly believe we always have the power to manipulate the decision to our advantage with a tactical nudge, forgetting that sometimes the factors influencing the decision are in motion long before we encounter the customer.

You will win some and lose some. Sometimes the losses happen long before you show up. The job of your marketing isn’t simply to help people to make up their minds. It’s to discern which people you can genuinely help.

Image by Thomas Hawk

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.