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Make Fewer Promises

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

It’s a Saturday night. Jeff, the on-call Planning Enforcement Officer for the local council, is just about to sit down to a takeaway meal and a movie with his wife when his phone rings. Residents close to a new nightclub want him to come and assess the noise levels at the venue. Even before the conversation starts, Jeff is not primed to listen. What he thinks is a good outcome—getting the caller off the line in the quickest time possible, doesn’t align with what the caller thinks is a good outcome—Jeff dropping everything and getting around to the nightclub in the next thirty minutes.

Misaligned expectations are the greatest source of dissatisfaction in any service interaction. You can’t begin to satisfy or delight your customer unless you are prepared to meet his expectations. Two things need to be in place to make that happen. Firstly, you need to understand the customer’s desired outcome. And secondly, you need to have the resources and the willingness to meet it.

If the last thing Jeff wants to do when he’s on call is get in his car to investigate complaints, then it’s unlikely he’ll satisfy ratepayers. The way he handles incoming calls is affected by his desire to enjoy a quiet night at home. His tone will be defensive and his manner abrupt. The organisation does more harm than good by having a 24-hour hotline that sets the expectation that an officer might visit in an emergency if that’s unlikely to happen.

Excellence is about making fewer promises that you always keep.

Image by Nathan Rupert

Choosing To Be Better

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

Every business begins with a choice to be better. Not necessarily to be better than the competition, but to be a better option for the people it hopes to serve. As we become mired in the day-to-day work of business building, we can lose sight of our original intention.

Nike’s Bill Bowerman chose to be better at creating innovative shoes that would enhance every athlete’s performance. The company is still making the same choice today.

Kate Reid chose to make better croissants. She’s gained international recognition and built a thriving business by staying true to that intention.

What did you choose to be better at and why? How are you staying true to that choice?

Image by eMeow

Why Do You Want To Tell A Good Brand Story?

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

Why do you want to get better at storytelling?

When I ask clients and potential clients that question, I get a mixed bag of answers.

By far the most common reason is to increase brand awareness. Conventional wisdom argues that the more people who know about your product or service, the greater chance you have of selling more products and services. The simplest way to make everyone aware is to buy the attention of the most people. But the downside to that strategy is that you’re wasting resources speaking to people who have no interest in hearing or buying from you.

The second most common answer is to speed the process of attracting more customers. This mindset can lead business owners down the path of compromise, which presents its own unique set of challenges. You can’t do your best work when you start appealing to customers who don’t share your worldview. When you do, you attract the kind of customers your business is not designed to serve well.

Another reason commonly offered is to make sure to be seen in the right light by the right people. And while it’s smart to think about the audience you hope to engage with, you need to be mindful of telling a story that isn’t true just because it resonates with the people you’re speaking to.

Three Lessons From Great Brand Storytellers

1. Allocate resources where they have the most impact.

2. Get clear about the kind of customers you do and don’t want to attract.

3. Be as good at turning off the wrong customers as you are at attracting the right ones.

Your marketing motivations will ultimately inform your brand strategy and marketing tactics. That’s why it pays to know not just what you want to say and how best to say it, but also to understand why it’s important to you to say it at all.

Resonance begets belonging and belonging scales.

Image by rotesnichts 

Who Cares?

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

It’s easy to assume that a delicious meal is about the magic that happens when the chef, who we think has the most skin in the game, directly influences the end product. Is the perfect plate of pasta a result of the quality of the ingredients or the skill of the chef? How much does the ambience of the restaurant or the waiter’s service influence our perception of how good the food tastes?

In any well-oiled restaurant or company, every individual understands their role in the value chain. But efficiency is only one element of a great product or experience. We know that meeting an expectation is an end to end process, which begins before the customer arrives and finishes as she leaves. But we have the opportunity to make it more of a virtuous cycle by caring.

The things that delight us are born in moments when people who care bring their skills together to create a future they want to see. Care first. Strategise later.

Image by Bruno Cordioli

Marketing 101

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The queue outside Chinatown’s Golden Gate Bakery extends all the way down the street. More people join as customers are served, so the line never gets shorter. Sometimes people show up hoping to buy the famous egg custard tarts through the front door even when the bakery is closed. Locals know to come early and bring cash. Puzzled tourists wonder what they’re missing out on when they see the lines and delighted customers clutching bright pink boxes. Many join the queue and come away with a dozen egg tarts too.
The Golden Gate Bakery is an example of marketing 101.

Marketing 101

1. Make something people want.
2. Consistently deliver on your promise to your customers.
3. Give them a way to spread the story about the thing you made.

If you tick all three boxes, then you’ve got a marketing plan.

Image by Gary Stevens

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