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.

A Tale Of Two Managers

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

My local bank manager, at the branch five minutes walk from my home, works hard to help customers navigate the bank’s new automated systems and services. He’s on hand to show everyone depositing cash how to bypass a teller and make a deposit using the machine in the foyer.

The bank manager at the branch where I choose to bank (three suburbs and a thirty-minute tram ride away), works hard to get to know his customers. He chooses to man the customer service desk so that he can hear his customer’s stories. He knows his customers by name and prioritises understanding their goals before serving them. He prides himself on making sure they are paying less interest and incurring fewer fees.

Both managers care, but there’s a subtle distinction in how they choose to serve. The second bank manager wins because he cares less about finding customers for his products and more about finding the right products for his customers. And he goes home knowing that he’s done work he’s proud to have done.

Image by Spixey

The Power Of Scarcity

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

Demand for anything is always greater when supply is limited. People want what they can’t have, and so scarcity creates value. Scarcity is not just about managing the availability of resources and limiting supply—it can be the foundation of a successful business model.

When Howard Schultz expanded Starbucks, he knew that it was the feeling of community and connection, not just a decent coffee that was scarce. Boutique hotels changed the definition of luxury by understanding that people craved delight, not only a comfortable bed and fresh towels.

As the world around us evolves what’s in short supply changes too. When everything is automated, personal service becomes more valuable. When commodities are plentiful, artisans flourish. When we can buy the factory-made on every street corner, we covet the thing that’s made by hand.

Every successful organisation and entrepreneur thrives not by knowing what’s selling—but by understanding what people want more of and don’t yet have.

Image by Thomas H

Understanding The Arc Of Your Customer’s Story

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

The plot of every story begins with an inciting incident—the revelation of a problem the hero must overcome. Harry Potter’s offer of a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Cinderella’s invitation to the ball. Buzz Lightyear’s arrival on Andy’s birthday. Everything we know about the hero’s circumstances up until that moment is the backstory. The inciting incident compels the hero to act until the problem is resolved.

As entrepreneurs and organisations with products and services to sell we spend a lot of time collecting data and insights about customer demographics—their backstory. But it’s equally, if not more important to understand the inciting incidents of their story—the events or circumstances that drive your customers to act. What has sent them off on a quest to solve their problem? And what’s your role in helping them to resolve it?

Sometimes marketers use this powerful information simply to sell more of their product to people who don’t need it. Only today, I saw a picture of a giant chocolate bar on a billboard right outside the gym. The caption asked passers-by if they were ‘craving something’. Traditional chocolate manufacturers know the problem we’re trying to solve every January. The last thing they want is for those New Year’s resolutions to stick.

Our job is never to exploit the customer’s circumstances. It’s to help improve them where we can. No matter what we’re selling, we can’t serve the people we want to engage with or create change for the better unless we know what kind of quest those people are on.

Image by David Werner

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

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.