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The Power Of Expectations

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

The packaging on the flat-pack garden shed promised fast, easy assembly (80% faster than the competitor’s product), using 75% fewer screws, pre-drilled holes and a 30-year warranty. Taking the manufacturer at their word the customer’s expectation is set. The shed takes two people five hours to assemble, requires additional drilling, a trip to the hardware store to buy a special riveting tool and leaves the weary handymen with a bag of fifty extra screws and abandoned Sunday afternoon plans. There’s a clear mismatch between the expectation the company set and the reality the customer experienced.

Dissatisfied customers are not just created by products and services that don’t work. Dissatisfaction is also a direct result of the stories we the marketers lead customers to believe. Expectations once set are hard to shift. Our words have the power to change so much more than the customer’s decision to click the buy button. We should use them wisely.

Image by Melody Hansen.

Less But Better

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

In the bygone era of local shopping strips lined with family owned businesses the job of each business wasn’t simply to make a profit—it was to add value to the community it served. Every business had a purpose beyond the single bottom line. Every transaction, from a pint of milk to five screws wrapped tightly in brown paper, mattered. Paradoxically it was the care the owners took with the smallest order that helped them to thrive for longer than the big chain stores might have predicted.

We’ve come to believe that people always want more or that they invariably choose the fast and easy option. This isn’t true of every customer. What if instead of trying to deliver more, faster to everyone we strived to do less but better for fewer?

Image by John Weiss.

The Simple (Not Easy) Strategy For Business Growth

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

When we think about business development opportunities, we mostly begin by knowing exactly where we are today and what goals we want to reach next. From there we set out to widen our net and acquire more customers or users for our existing products and services. Our growth strategy starts with the need to expand our customer base in pursuit of the targets we set.

If Steve Jobs had stuck with only this kind growth strategy, the iPhone wouldn’t exist. What he did instead of simply casting the net wider was connect the dots between Apple’s capabilities and where the customer would want to go next—even before the customer knew himself.

Net widening is a fine growth strategy, but it’s also one your competitors are likely adopting—which means whoever gets new customers faster (perhaps by being cheaper) will come out on top. There is an alternative.

We can create long-term value for our companies by understanding where the customer is today and where they want to go next. The path to growth doesn’t always mean having a bigger net. Often it’s about taking the time to consider if a net is the best tool for the job.

Image by Hasin Hayder.

More Vs. Deeper

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

On the surface of it, the all-you-can-eat buffet seems like a generous bargain. Why is it then that we walk away having had our fill without feeling satisfied? The truth is we know that far from being generous the offer of ‘more’ is a tactic to get the most people through the door. We understand the restaurant owner is hoping we come with small appetites and leave early.

Contrast the all-you-can-eat experience with that of the performer who must somehow find a way to deliver value to a stadium of 75,000 fans, most of whom she can’t reach or look in the eye. Singing one more song at the end of her set is unlikely to create the connection she hopes to make with each person. Her only option is to find ways to go deeper.

So she shares intimate stories of her journey from support act to superstar. She acknowledges the unique attributes of the city she’s performing in. She displays unpublished images from her childhood on the big screen. And she makes tiny handwritten love notes that are photocopied and turned into a mid-performance shower of confetti—souvenirs for her fans to keep.

We mistakenly believe that value creation is about delivering more for less when in many cases what delights our customers is more of less.

How can you give more by going deeper?

Image by Jackson Lavarnway.

Shouting To Be Heard

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

If we want our ideas to be embraced, we have two choices.

We can shout to be heard, or we can listen to understand. When we shout, we’re not even sure who is listening. When we understand we know what the listener is ready to hear next.

We all know which strategy has the best chance of succeeding.

Image by Masayuki Takaku.