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The Patient Marketer

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The couple are examining winter jackets on a rail in the department store when the sales assistant makes a beeline for them. ‘What size are we looking for?’ he says, helpfully. They explain that they’re just looking, but he continues to follow them around offering assistance. So they excuse themselves and leave.

Marketing works best when we help people to get what they want when they want it. Trust and timing are an essential part of any marketing strategy, and patience is one of the most useful qualities a marketer can cultivate.

Image by Mike Melrose.

What Are Your Customers Looking For?

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

We are sometimes in the dark about what our customers want, so we make assumptions or ask them in the hope of happening upon the truth. There is a third way to get closer to our customers—one we regularly overlook. People’s actions and reactions can reveal more about their internal dialogue than their words. When did you last spend time watching what your customers do?

As an author, I spend an unhealthy amount of time in bookstores. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen someone take a thick book from the shelf, feel the heft of it in their hand—then put it back. I can almost hear them thinking they’ll never get through it. Sometimes I get chatting to them and ask them what they’re looking for. Most of the time they don’t know.

Try this. Head down to your nearest department store, cafe, gym or wherever your customers are. Then stand back and watch what they do. Are they feeling garments before they check prices? Are they more likely to make a purchase if they’re alone or with someone? Are they looking for something specific? Do they compare prices with online retailers on their smartphone? Do they buy what they came in for? The list of questions, observations and potential insights are endless.

We tend to think of our customers as intentional, rational human beings—which is why we spend a lot of our time marketing to their heads. We make and market better products and services by working harder to get a glimpse of their hearts.

Image by mgstanton.

What Standout Brands Do

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

Have you ever noticed how a crowd exits a packed venue? Even when there are three exits most people take the middle one. You see this play out in business too. Take a walk through the running shoe department in any sports store, and you’ll find little to differentiate one shoe from another. When one brand starts designing and manufacturing with a new kind of material others follow suit. The same patterns emerge in marketing.

Every brand aspires to be unique, to stand out and create something meaningful—yet when it comes to executing on those aspirations we imitate, dumb down and deviate towards the mediocre mean. We head where everyone else is headed because the uncrowded edges feel risky. In fact, the opposite is true. You stand out when you stand for something— when you go to a place your peers or competitors aren’t prepared to go.

Image by Zoi Koraki.

The Power Of The Constant In A Changing World

filed in Brand Strategy, Innovation

In a commercial world, we’re always trying to predict and keep pace with the future. A bit like a toddler failing to outrun his shadow. It’s a race none of us will ever quite know enough to win. Because we’re focused on the future, naturally we worry about change and disruption, often overlooking what’s constant.

Many innovation missteps are thought to have come about because of a failure to recognise what was coming. I’d argue that they were a result of a failing to look at what’s constant. What every product or service has in common is a customer. While our eyes are firmly fixed on the future we’re building—we often forget to see what’s unchanging in the people we serve. Even in a world of self-driving cars and drone delivered pizza what makes people tick will be the same.

We come unstuck when we ignore what we already know about the world, not by paying attention to what we don’t know.

Image by Mark Lehmkuhler.

The Value Question

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

What’s the one unanswered question you believe would unlock the most value in your business?

Why does it matter?

How would knowing the answer change your strategy?

Where can you find the information you need?

What’s stopping you?

Image by Derrick Story.

Unlock the magic in your story now.

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