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What’s More Important Than Noticing Trends?

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

Enlightened entrepreneurs and visionary leaders don’t simply try to predict the next hit. They spend less time wondering about what people are interested in and more time caring about why people are drawn to it.

Yes, it’s important to notice trends, but it’s far more valuable to understand what’s driving them. When we know what motivates our prospective customers, we can spend more time making things that people want and less time trying to make people want the things we make.

Image by Maria Ekland

What Do Your Customers Thank You For?

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

As vulnerable humans, we’re brilliant at paying attention to threats in our midst. We are experts at mitigating against failure, which we trick ourselves into believing is the way to optimising for success. This tendency might explain our willingness to devote our resources to averting risk, solving problems and fixing mistakes.

When we focus on getting a near perfect score we sometimes overlook the opportunity to do more of what we already do well. It’s possible that regularly amplifying delight can produce better results than trying to avoid the random missteps that inevitably happen.

It’s just as important to pay attention to what makes your customers happy as it is to get to the bottom of complaints. What do you customers thank you for? Make a list. Then do more of that.

Image by Jeff Meyer

The Responsive Vs. Reactive Business Conundrum

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

Every sustainable business was built in response to an unmet need. These responsive businesses endure because they evolve with the customer they intended to serve. The likes of fidget spinner manufacturers don’t count. You can rattle off a dozen responsive companies that have launched in the past two decades, particularly in the digital space. Brands like Airbnb, Alibaba, Amazon, Uber, Warby Parker and Zendesk have thrived because they solved real problems and built products and services people wanted and came to love.

As startups and disruptors, responsive businesses begin on a level playing field strategically, what happens next depends on the path they take to achieve growth and scale. The companies that lose ground following some success are the ones that become reactive to the marketplace. Now, instead of staying true to their original intention to meet the needs of a customer with a particular worldview, the focus shifts to the competition. And bit-by-bit their priorities change and the strategy subtly shifts. Their ethos gets watered down. They start thinking, then behaving like their competitors, and they lose the edge that made them authentic, exciting and innovative—those qualities that attracted customers to them in the first place.

The business failures we witness at both local and global levels from Billabong to Kodak, are a result of a responsive business becoming reactive. Ironically the growth and scale we seek (no matter what size of company we run), happens when we remain true to our intention to do work we’re proud of in the service of people whose needs and desires are not being fulfilled. We’re witnessing a shift where incumbents like the big banks and chain stores also realise whoever gets (and stays) closest to their customer wins. Now more than ever, remembering and acting on that has got to be the number one priority for every business.

Image by Alan Levine

Design Your Business For The Outcome You Want

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

Think about a delighted customer and the ten people she will interact with today.

What’s the story you want that customer to share with someone about you, your product or service?
How do you want them to describe the change you enabled?
What words do you want them to use?
How do you want them to feel?

Now think about all of the things you spent your time on today.

Are the things you’re working on helping you to get to the place you described above?
What needs to change for you to get to where you want to go?

Image by Andrey

A Simple Way To Think About The Value You Create

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

When it comes to communicating our value, we begin by describing the features and benefits of what we make, serve or sell. That’s why we often end up with a laundry list of claims that our competitors could make.

There is an alternative. Flip this thinking on its head and reflect on what would happen if your product or service didn’t exist. What would the customer’s world look like without you and your particular way of working or serving?

Try telling that story.

Image by Daniel Lee

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.