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The Shortcut To The Sale

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

Yesterday I watched a woman squirm as she was being upsold two post-treatment skincare products priced at $300 by her beauty therapist. Think about the context here. She’d just spent an hour with the therapist, giving her permission to ask questions others can’t ask and allowing her to touch parts of her others never see. The client’s vulnerability is laid bare in a treatment room. This is a high trust situation. The therapist leaves her to dress and then meets her outside waiting to take payment—this is when the switch happens.

“These are the two post-treatment creams I want you to use. They will accelerate the results of your treatment today.” the therapist says, sliding two sleek boxes, minus price tags across the counter towards the client. It’s embarrassing to ask the price of the creams or to admit she’s not sure she wants them, especially when they are positioned as required and not optional. Yes, the therapist had permission, she earned the privilege to speak to the customer—then she promptly went and abused it, betraying all the trust she had worked so hard to obtain.

Even us marketers sometimes find marketing slightly distasteful because we know we’re not always doing things that are in the customer’s best interests—things we’re not proud to have done. We know in our heart of hearts when we’re treating people in ways we would find disingenuous, irritating or embarrassing if the shoe were on the other foot. And yet we take the shortcut to the sale instead of the long way round to mattering.

Like the two-sided coin, every moment is an opportunity to choose the right thing over the easy thing. If you’re reading this I know which one you’re shooting for.

Image by Mislav Marohnić.

The Best Kind Of Self-Promotion

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

A new group fitness instructor arrives to teach a class at the gym. He’s an unknown quantity, but a few people give him a shot. Within a month his class is either packed or half-empty. The instructor who is struggling to get the numbers announces details of his upcoming classes at the end of each session. The one with a full house doesn’t need to utter a word.

The difference isn’t that the most popular instructors are more professional or technically proficient—it’s that the people who take part in their classes leave feeling glad that they came.

The feeling we leave our clients and customers with (about themselves and not us) as they walk out the door is the best self-promotion money can’t buy. No amount of pleading and persuading beats the delivery of an exceptional experience that the customer wants to repeat.

Image by Edson Hong.

Three Steps To Telling Better Product Stories

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

When it comes to marketing our products and services there are a couple of storylines we fall back on. We either invite prospective customers to look at our impressive features and benefits or urge them to notice how much better our product is than anything else that exists in the category. Those tactics may have worked in the old two-channel world when customers were less distracted and had fewer choices, but they don’t cut through now.

The much more effective alternative is to anchor your customer in his world, starting with his story.

How To Begin Telling Better Product Stories

1. Speak to one person.
2. Anchor him in his current imperfect reality.
3. Show him what his new desired reality could be in the presence of your product.

See how Google does this brilliantly with a great piece of product storytelling.

Not only does this alternative strategy make us better marketers, it also helps us to be more empathetic to our customers—which makes for better products and experiences for the people we serve.

If you want to become a better marketer and brand storyteller, join us next week on the upcoming
Story Strategy Course.

Image by Hsuanya Tsai.

Beyond Attention

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The black-gloved sales assistant in the jeweller’s window is busy polishing the stones in every ring. Totally absorbed in her task, she starts with the rubies, moves on to the emeralds and finishes with the diamonds. She carefully places them exactly two centimetres apart on velvet lining.

The stones sparkle under perfect lighting as the first customer pushes open the door. The two sales assistants glance up from their mugs of tea, then get back to their conversation.

We mistakenly expend most of our effort attempting to get people to take notice, polishing the stones, thinking our work is done. How much better would our marketing be if we stopped making attention the endgame and acknowledged that the real work of marketing is what comes next?

Image by Nefraton.

5 Ways To Be A More Resourceful Marketer

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The problem with most marketing is that it not only feels inauthentic to the customer, it also relies on tired old tactics that do the opposite of what the marketer intended. It interrupts instead of inspiring, disconnects instead of delighting. We can do better.

How To Be A More Resourceful Marketer

1. Pretend you have a marketing budget of zero dollars.
What would you do today to reach five new customers who would be thrilled to hear from you?

2. Stop looking over your shoulder at what your competitors or colleagues are doing.

Think about why you want to grow your business. What is your intention? What are you on a mission to do? Write it down.

3. Empathise with your customer.

Don’t think of your customers as a homogenous group. Think about one person who needs your product or service. Write down six things about him that are completely unrelated to your product or service. What did you learn? How does this change your marketing strategy?

4. Create your own definition of ‘good marketing’.

What does great marketing look, sound and feel like? Can you think of some examples that made you want to connect more deeply with a business or brand? What did they do differently?

5. Think small—avoid speaking to the market of everyone.

What’s the least number of customers you need to attract to build a sustainable business?
Who are they? Where are they? Why will they be delighted to hear from you?

We don’t have to be bound by industry standards and cookie cutter marketing formulas.
We get to choose how we tell our story.

Image by Thomas Hawk.