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How Much Do The Answers Matter?

filed in Brand Strategy, Innovation

Asking questions is a big part of our job whatever our role. We know we can enhance our products and services and improve client outcomes by asking the right ones and acting on the answers.
So we send surveys.
We listen to what people say and watch what they do.
We go to the trouble of gathering data and then often fail to act on it.
We’ve become very good at digging holes to peer into.

Learning to ask great questions is a crucial skill both in business and in life. What’s even more important than asking the right questions though, is having a genuine interest in the answers you get back. We need to be more honest with ourselves about why we’re questioning something at all.
It’s just as critical to know how you’re likely to respond to the answer.

Image by Trygve Utstumo

The Transformation Business

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

When a woman wears heels her posture shifts. How she moves and carries herself changes—not just because of the physics and her altered centre of gravity, but often because of how wearing the heels makes her feel. Both her gait and her behaviour are transformed. Similarly, once the coffee drinker pays $4 for a cup of barista coffee, he’s unlikely to see the value in the $1 cup available at the corner deli. His behaviour reinforces the story he tells himself. He makes new assumptions about quality and price. His worldview changes.

We have a limiting belief about commerce, which is commonly viewed as a series of transactional exchanges. The truth is sales and marketing are less about oiling the wheels of transactions, and much more about enabling behaviour change than we realise.

As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we’re in the transformation business. If we’re doing a good job, we’re not simply convincing people to part with money in exchange for goods and services—we’re enabling them to make sometimes imperceptible shifts in their posture. Our role is to help customers take steps towards the change they’re seeking.

Where does your customer want to go next? Who does she want to be when she gets there?

Image by Rawle C. Jackman

The Power Of A Shared Brand Narrative

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy

The doors of the department store are barely open and Chris is setting up for a busy day ahead at Mecca. Most of the sales assistants at the other beauty counters don’t glance up as a customer walks through. They’re expecting tyre kickers this early in the day. Chris is different. He’s aware and attentive, without being pushy. I discover he’s been with the company for ten years—moving from Saturday boy to manager and fragrance specialist. He clearly loves what he does. When I ask Chris the secret to the brand’s success, he doesn’t miss a beat before responding. It’s the founder’s consistent vision which hasn’t changed from day one. She always aspired to become Australasia’s number one beauty destination, delivering a bespoke, high touch customer experience.

How many of us, (or those who work with us) could so clearly articulate what it is that differentiates our brand with such conviction and without hesitation? This is the power of having a shared narrative—of knowing the reason your brand exists and what change you aspire to make in the world, then living that in everything your brand does. It’s not easy to plot the impact of having a clear purpose and vision on a spreadsheet—which is why deliberately designing a business around them is often overlooked. And yet, when we dig deeper, we find that beloved brands that are successful by every measure do exactly that.

Chris is empowered to deliver the best service because he, like everyone else who works for the company knows where they’re headed and how they will get there. Your brand’s story has the power to be a map, mirror and magnet—keeping you on track and attracting like-minded people who want to create the future with you.

Where are you headed and how exactly are you planning to get there?

Image by Heather Katsoulis.

Mean It Like You Say It

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

The Sunday ice-cream scooper at the gelato place on Spring Street makes new customers sample every flavour before they buy anything. She knows her gelato inside and out. Her enthusiasm is infectious. She reels off the most popular flavours and tells stories about how pistachio lovers always return to pistachio having tried everything else because it’s that good. Sunday scooper believes in her product. She may only work one day a week in the lowliest position in the company but training her to love the gelato is the best investment the boss has ever made.

Far too often we fail to think deeply about and celebrate what differentiates us from others, and so we flounder when it comes to articulating our value. If we’re telling a story we believe in, it shows. There is no better marketing strategy.
When you say it, do you mean it?

Imange by Alpha.

The Incremental Advantage

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing, News

Despite what we know about how distracted our customers can be and how endless their choices are, when it comes to our messaging and marketing, we often overestimate our ability to cut through. You only have to spend five minutes watching someone scrolling through a feed on their smartphone (try it), or see how the guy reading a newspaper at your local cafe bypasses most of the content to get to the parts that interest him, for the reality we’re facing to sink in.

Instead of framing this as a challenge see it as an opportunity. Great innovators, committed business owners and unselfish marketers can thrive by planning to engage more deeply with their audience over time. The promise of the digital marketing era was that it would be faster and cheaper to reach more people. That promise didn’t guarantee deeper engagement, loyalty and more sales.

Now more than ever, even in a fast-paced digital world there is no time for marketing emergencies. We still make progress in increments.

Image by Jeroen Looyé.

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.