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Permission To Be Impractical

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

Back in 1984, it wasn’t practical for Richard Branson to think he could launch a better airline with just one secondhand Boeing 747. And yet, that’s is exactly what he did.

It would have been more practical for James Dyson to give up after the fifth attempt to invent the best vacuum cleaner in the world. But he kept going, creating over five thousand more prototypes until he got it right.

It wasn’t practical for one man—even one of financial means, to believe he had a shot at building a better rocket than NASA, with the hope of colonising other planets. That belief was the beginnings of SpaceX, the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft.

It would have been more practical for Apple to keep the buttons instead of innovating the touchscreen. That decision gave us the iPhone and revolutionised the way we connect and communicate.

It wasn’t practical for Serena Williams to play, let alone win a grand slam final while she was pregnant. Of course, it would have been more practical for Rosa Parks to stand up and for Nelson Mandela to quiet down.

It’s not practical to look people in the eye or search for flaws in your thinking. It’s never practical to care more and demand less. And it’s always impractical to do the thing that doesn’t give us an immediate or obvious advantage. But often being impractical is essential to doing meaningful work.

Image by Lee

Marketing Backwards

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy

I recently witnessed a young friend agonise for two months about which new smartphone to buy. A thousand dollars was a big investment for her. She had to weigh it up carefully. She trawled through every online review site for weeks. But the internal dialogue went on for much longer. We often believe the customer only considers the story we tell her and forget that she’s thinking about what choosing our brand says about her. When we’re making products and services we hope people will buy, it’s easy to overlook what influences their decision. One way to get better at this is to anticipate their self-talk.

10 Questions Customers Ask Themselves Before Buying A Product

1. Why should I choose this product over the other one?
2. Why is it worth more to me?
3. What features will I use or won’t I use?
4. How often will I use it?
5. What do I like or dislike about it?
6. How does it look?
7. How does it feel?
8. What does it say about me?
9. What will people think?
10.What would make me regret this decision tomorrow/next week/next year?

We get better at making and marketing when we get better at anticipating how our customers think and feel.

Image by Jev

The Key To The Perfect Story

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing, News

In a world where information and ideas can be shared in likes, swipes and clicks, we have never had a better opportunity to make our stories more visible. With so much for people to pay attention to, we have also never stood a better chance of being ignored. And that paradox sets us off on a quest to craft the perfect story—the one that resonates with the most people.

All stories have a beginning a middle and end. There is an inciting incident, conflict and resolution, a hero and a guide, failure and success. But unlike on the screens of Hollywood or in the pages of bestselling fiction, there is no ideal structure for crafting the perfect brand story because there is no single algorithm for touching the human heart.

The important thing isn’t the mechanics of the narrative or brilliance of the creative—the intention behind them is key to resonating with the people we hope to serve. Our quest to tell the right story stops us telling the real story. The key is to start with the truth about why we believed in what we do enough to begin and why we care about solving this unmet need for that particular person. It turns out that getting to the heart of the truth works better than finding an angle.

Image by Luigi Tiriticco

How Are You Putting The Customer At The Centre?

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

At every strategy meeting, in every company boardroom and entrepreneurial hub around the globe, you will hear some version of the requirement to ‘put the customer at the centre’ in everything we do. These words are easy to preach from on high and harder (but not impossible), to implement at a grassroots level. The key to the success of any strategy is getting the people closest to the customer to feel they have ownership of what’s been planned. We can only put the customer at the centre when we create a culture where everyone feels their voice is heard and their work matters.

The bigger questions for all of us are:

1. How can we embed listening to the customer into our culture?

2. How can we empower everyone in the organisation to care and be curious about the customer?

3. How can we make our teams feel like their ideas and input matter?

Successful strategies might be dreamt up in corner offices, but they are implemented in ordinary moments from cubicles, counters and checkouts.

Image by Jim Coyle

21 Questions For Creators And Innovators

filed in Brand Strategy, Innovation, Success

Ideas are easy and free, execution can be painful and costly. Not just because it requires time, effort and resources—but because we often don’t do enough groundwork to get clear about the impact we hope to create. While it’s important to plan for success and mitigate against failure, what’s equally worthwhile exploring is why the idea matters to you and the people you hope it will serve. Why should you give it priority?
These twenty-one questions will help you get clear about your intention.

21 Questions For Creators And Innovators

1. What sparked this idea?
2. What’s your motivation for starting this project?
3. Who is the ideal user, client or customer for the end product?
4. Why will they buy or buy into it?
5. Why do you care about solving this problem for these people?
6. Why are you the person or team to bring it to life?
7. Why this project and not something else?
8. What’s the end goal?
9. What’s the first step?
10.What resources do you need?
11.What’s your minimal viable product?
12.Who do you need to involve or get behind the project?
13.How much time do you need?
14.How will you test your idea?
15.Who can you trust to give you objective feedback?
16.What are the likely challenges you could face?
17.How can you mitigate against or learn from them?
18.What circumstances would make you quit?
19.What does success look like?
20.If this idea succeeds what’s your next step?
21.If not this, then what?

You’re more likely to succeed by confronting the hard questions before you begin.

Image by Business Region Skane

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.