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.

Depth Over Reach

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

It’s pouring rain on the morning the free weekly lifestyle magazine is stuck through the railings of every home on every street in our neighbourhood. So the 20% of people who would normally flick through it over morning coffee won’t bother to open the magazine today. The soggy newsprint goes straight into the recycling bin. This is not the story the magazine’s ad sales team will tell prospective advertisers. Their data will talk up the power of building brand awareness and increasing reach as a reliable business growth strategy.

The recorded message outside the chiropractor’s office on Victoria Street interrupts every passer-by day or night. He can even reach those making their way home from a big night out at 2 am on Saturday at no additional cost. You just never know who might be walking past at any given moment. And there lies the problem—just like the lifestyle magazine, the chiropractor’s business growth strategy is focused on reach instead of depth. It prioritises the unknowns above the knowns. Both companies have decided that interrupting the most people is the safest marketing strategy. They are ignoring opportunities to deepen relationships with the people who are already interested or invested in their services because they mistakenly believe more is a shortcut to mattering.

How are you prioritising depth over reach in your business?

Image by Alfred Lui.

Don’t Be Afraid To Start Small

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

On a rainy Monday early in December 1955, 40,000 African-Americans boycotted the public bus services in the town of Montgomery to protest the arrest of 42-year-old Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. Their boycott lasted 381 days until the city repealed its law requiring segregation on public buses. Rosa Parks’ story is one of the most enduring examples we have of the power of one person to change everything.

We tend to forget that the ‘power of one’ rule also applies to revolutions in the commercial world. Philip Mills choreographed his first barbell workout in the remote city of Auckland, New Zealand in 1990. Today he is the CEO of Les Mills International—the hugely successful global fitness brand, with over 130,000 certified instructors delivering classes to more than 6 million people every week in more than 100 countries around the world. To put that into perspective, the population of New Zealand today stands at 4.5 million.

It’s natural to want to get your product into the hands of everyone who needs it. But thinking about how to influence the masses leads to missteps in understanding what’s driving the decisions of the few people you have the best chance of reaching and impacting right now. Like any revolution, success happens one user, one customer, one raving fan at a time. Never be afraid to start small.

Image by Jasperdo.

Why The Realistic Marketer Wins

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing, Success

Marketing shoulders heavy burden in any business regardless of size. We expect our marketing efforts to make more customers aware of our brand and to grab their attention. Not only that, we want our marketing to create trust, differentiate our products, communicate value and change people’s minds. Marketing must also convince strangers to choose us and part with their money. And we want it all to happen as quickly as possible with the minimal investment and effort.

This is a big ask, and it’s also the reason we fail when we prioritise tactics over a sustainable marketing strategy.

The realistic marketer doesn’t think this way. He doesn’t believe in quick wins and overnight successes. He obsesses about how to make positive changes in the lives of his customers before crafting clever copy. He learns to question how the people he cares about serving feel before expecting them to act. He puts values before virality and transparency before tactics. The realistic marketer intentionally sets out to make a difference one person at a time. He realises his urgent need does not motivate his potential customers. He understands that delight trumps data every day of the week, so he doubles down on making things people love, instead of trying to make people love the things he makes. The realistic marketer knows that trust scales and belonging is a competitive advantage, which is why he plans to play the long game.

The realistic marketing mindset is open to each one of us. We get to choose our attitudes and actions. It’s worth remembering what we prioritise today changes the impact we make tomorrow.

Image by Christopher Cook.

The Two Questions Behind Every Successful Product And Service

filed in Brand Strategy, Innovation, Marketing

There’s a subtle difference between a product or service that stems from an idea and one that’s born from recognising an opportunity. Ideas are solutions in search of problems. Opportunities are problems begging for a solution. The magic of solving problems for a specific customer is that the marketing is baked into the product.

Like many disruptive companies, the team at Dollar Shave Club created a compelling product, innovative business model and viral marketing campaign simply by understanding their customer’s pain points.

We find opportunities when we look for problems to solve, by asking the following two questions:

1. What’s happening that shouldn’t be?
2. What’s not happening, that should be?

In the case of Dollar Shave Club, the answers were clear. The razor blade market was dominated by a few legacy brands who had no direct relationship with their customers. Men were paying a lot of money for shave tech they didn’t need. Buying expensive razor blades didn’t necessarily guarantee a better shaving experience. Shopping for razors and replacing blades wasn’t as convenient as it could be. The startup disrupted the market by addressing these unmet needs.

The utility, quality and success of our products and services improve when we pay attention to what’s missing in our customers’ lives.

What gaps can you fill for your customers?

[Learn more about turning your insights into successful products and services in my new book, Hunch].

Image by Thomas Hawk.

The Number One Way To Create Brand Awareness

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

There was something peculiar about the SoHo hotel where I stayed on my recent overseas trip. I didn’t see a single child for the length of my stay. Nowhere in their marketing does the management specify their property is unsuitable for children and yet because they are uncompromising about going all the way to the edges in everything they say and do—the potential customer knows.

The best way to create brand awareness is to make a product or service that’s designed to please a particular audience and to do it without compromising. That’s easy to say and hard to do. When you have two hundred rooms to fill and bills to pay, fear sets in and is closely followed by a compromise. That compromise not only dilutes the potency of your brand, it subconsciously creates a disconnect in the mind and heart of the right customer. You can’t imagine seeing a T-bone steak on the menu at a vegan restaurant. It would never happen under any circumstances. That’s the essence of great branding—to build something that feels like it’s just for a particular kind of person. Someone who wants their choices to reflect their values and to be made to feel like an insider.

Back to the SoHo Hotel. Everything from the size and layout of the guest rooms to beautifully lit communal lounges that doubled as coworking spaces and the items on the menu was intentional. The best way to create brand awareness is to understand who your product is for and to only speak to that person. Awareness isn’t about getting the most people to try your product. It’s about making something the right people fall in love with and can’t help talking about.

What are you doing to make your insiders feel like they belong?

Image by Yann Jouanique.

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.