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The Downside Of Competing For Customers

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The boardroom was ready. We each had a bottle of French sparkling water, a notebook and pen next to our seat. Delicious herbal tea and snacks were served on our arrival. We were meeting to discuss how best to tell a story that resonated with the client’s customers before the launch of a new marketing campaign next season. The marketing team’s carefully prepared presentation was locked and loaded, and examples of their past promotions had been laid out down the middle of the long boardroom table, alongside those of their competitors.

The team presented data about the previous campaign’s performance relative the competition. They knew exactly what their competitors’ strategy had been and how much revenue each company had generated. They compared the different strategies in great detail. They outlined the targets they wanted to hit. But not once throughout the entire presentation did they question what their customer wanted. The customer barely got a mention. This company is not alone in neglecting to make room for customers at the table.

In our race to compete for a slice of the market, we have become fearfully reactive to the marketplace, instead of being bravely responsive to the people we intended to serve. We may have forgotten our customers, but it’s not too late to fix this. We can’t begin to be something to our customers without first understanding who we are and who we intend to become.

Image by freeimage4life

Everything Starts With Something

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

When we’re starting a project or working towards a business development goal we typically have a laundry list of everything we want to do. From developing a new product to filing our tax returns, it’s in our nature to want to make immediate and visible progress all at once. That desire to do everything often results in paralysis. Everything seems overwhelming. Everything is daunting. Everything is impossible. So we end up doing nothing.

When we’re in a state of indecision or overwhelm about the next step to take there’s a magic question we can ask ourselves to clarify our options and create momentum.

‘If you could do anything, what would that be?’

The simplicity of some of the things on your ‘anything’ list will surprise you. Suddenly everything you could do becomes the things you should do. From there the trick is to pick one thing you will do. Everything starts with something. But only if you begin.

Image by Simon Q

The Empathy Profession

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

When I was growing up (and maybe when you were too), careers like medicine, nursing and teaching, were regarded as being part of the ’empathy profession’.

Today, every one of us, from accountants to designers, CEOs to Astronauts, are in the ’empathy profession’. No business or brand can thrive without understanding what it is their customer wants. No leader can create meaningful change without seeing the world through the eyes of her colleagues. No innovator can create relevant solutions unless he understands the challenge his invention helps someone to overcome.

It’s hard to empathise with someone unless you know their story. That’s why the software that gets used and the cafes that stay open were created by people who started with their customer’s story.

Whether you’re a designer at Google or a chocolate maker at Pana—it’s only possible to make things that people want by figuring out how those people want to feel in the presence of your product. You tell better stories by understanding the story the customer wants to tell herself. Caring is part of every job description now.

Download and use this Empathy Map PDF to help you get started.

Image by Hernán Piñera

A World Built On Promises

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

Scott and Joanna are planning to open a two-hundred-seater restaurant along a small shopping strip that backs onto a residential area in their local suburb. They know the neighbours will be concerned about the prospect of increased traffic and noise from the venue, especially at the weekend when they open until 1 am. So they draw up a plan to mitigate the negative impact their business might have on the people who live in the area. They commit on paper to limiting the number of patrons allowed in the rooftop bar and to monitoring late-night noise levels. The trouble with the plan is that the restauranteurs’ intentions are at odds with the commercial reality of running a viable business. Their success depends on having a restaurant and bar full of happy customers spending money late into the evening. They will find it almost impossible to make the business profitable while simultaneously keeping the neighbours happy. Their goals are at odds with each other.

We sometimes make promises we know in our hearts won’t be easy to keep. There will inevitably be times when we must balance good intentions with commercial imperatives. But saying one thing then doing another is the surest way to erode, not only the trust of others but our sense of integrity. The alternative is to make more honest promises, to focus on why we’re committed to keeping that promise and how exactly we’re going to do it, rather than just simply on what’s being promised.

We live in a world built on promises.
The people who keep them are the ones who win in every sense of the word.

Image by Elisa Dudnikova


Who Trusts You?

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

We spend a lot of time wondering who we can trust. We are careful to work out who is worthy of our friendship, business or time. And yet, we often fail to make the connection between trust and success when it comes to ourselves.

You don’t become trusted by being more successful.
You become successful by being more trusted.
Start there.

Image by Zi Krostag

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