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A Lesson From The Most Iconic Advert In The World

The Coca Cola ‘Hilltop’ advert created more than 40 years ago is known as “one of the best-loved and most influential ads in TV history.

In a recent collaboration Harvey Gabor one of the original creatives of ‘Hilltop’, worked with Google and Coca Cola to re-imagine a modern day version of the original. So what’s the biggest takeaway from the video of the process?

No matter what you’re talking about talk to one person

You might want to appeal to a hundred or even a million, do that by making your idea matter one person at a time.

Speak to that person.

The video is eleven minutes well worth watching!

Image by Meg Moggington.

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Turn Up The Volume On Your Mission

Whatever your idea, whatever you market, sell or promote, whether it’s a cause, art, products or services, the way you differentiate from your competitors is by turning up the volume on your mission.

Products can be similar, but missions are unique

You don’t want people to buy your stuff, you want to matter to them. You want them to care about your brand. To believe in what you do. To ‘buy in’. Part of your mission is to get those people, not everyone, but the ones you care about, to care.

The mission of an artist isn’t to sell her stuff to the masses, it’s to sell the ideas conveyed in those things, maybe to just 1000 true fans. The artist buys into the idea that she not only expresses herself through her art, but that she can help others to do the same. Her mission is to shape culture, to communicate beauty, stimulate thought and make an emotional connection.

Starbuck’s mission isn’t to persuade the guy who thinks that paying $5 for a cup of coffee is a joke. Their mission is to be the ‘third place’, to “inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” Starbucks was the catalyst that created a completely new coffee drinking culture.

Shaping culture over time is part of any brand mission. This applies to Etsy store owners, authors Burton and Dollar Shave Club alike.

Your product might be similar but your mission is unique.

All you have to do is turn up the volume.

Image by Jaanus Jagomägi.

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9 Elements Of The Perfect Pitch

This image was captured in Marrakech at the largest open air market in Africa. On the day the photo was taken the market was apparently in full swing, complete with everything from average snake charmers, to exceptional orange juicers and trinket traders. The photographer captures how many of the tourists seem to be more interested in their maps and to do lists than the sights, sounds, and the smells of the bazaar.

It doesn’t matter how good your idea is if nobody knows. If you want to make your idea matter, then you’ll need to get better at helping people to understand it why it should.


It’s hard to sell anything without having a plan and putting some effort in beforehand. Even the guy who walks up to a girl in a bar has put on a clean shirt and rehearsed what he’s going to say.

A pitch is based less on logic and more on tapping into emotions. It’s less about presenting information and more about persuading people deep down. Studies from the Journal of Advertising Research show that we are twice as likely to be persuaded by emotion than facts. You must make people care before you can persuade them to believe.

Story and Substance
Delivery is important but falls flat without a great story. The words you use and the stories you tell matter.

You’re not simply asking people to buy your idea, you’re persuading them to ‘buy into’ it, and you. This will not happen if you can’t communicate your genuine passion to the audience.

A Problem
Understand the problem you solve and communicate that.

An Answer
You’ve demonstrated that you know what the problem is, now reveal your valuable solution.

You’ve got nine seconds to convince them that you are the one. Don’t overload people with information, concentrate on what really matters to them.

You’re asking people to bet on you, to embrace the fact that there is not certainty in most decisions they make. If you don’t believe in yourself and your idea how can you expect others to?

Delivery is part science, part theatre, part art, it can be learned with practice.

What would you add? What has worked best for you in situations where you wanted to persuade?

Image by Almond Butterscotch.

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The Only Reason You’re In Business

When you don’t answer the phone after the third ring. When the wait staff you hired forget to look people in the eye. When you make it easy for people to sign up and say yes, but penalise them for changing their minds, you are forgetting the only reason your business exists and why it will ultimately succeed.

You are in business to acknowledge the significance of, and create meaning for clients and customers.

Your job is to practice the art of making people matter.

The same rules apply whether you’re Richard Branson or a boutique design studio in Melbourne.

Image by Tasayu Tasnaphun.

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The Best McDonalds Adverts McDonalds Never Made

The golden arches might be ubiquitous, but now we can and do, choose to ignore advertising campaigns created by even the biggest global companies. We skip commercials and we switch off, while marketing departments spend plenty best guessing what might capture us for a few more seconds.

What fascinates us, what holds our attention in the moment is not the product itself, but how it in some way makes meaning in our lives. Marketing is the tough job of working out what makes meaning on seven billion different levels.

As consumers we are no longer waiting for manufacturers and marketing departments to create context for us, we are doing it for ourselves. The 50,000 best McDonalds adverts ever made, (and counting—hit refresh), were created by you and me.

The opportunity for marketers is that consumers are now creating content about that context and they are sharing it with their friends.

Image by hustle roses.

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You Need A Story Not Just An Introduction

If you’ve ever been to any kind of round table meeting where each participant introduces themselves, you’ll know that after the first few introductions most people switch off. In a world of shrinking attention spans you’ve got seconds to grab them. If you feel uncomfortable about bigging yourself up, or standing out from the crowd think of it like this. What you’re actually doing is helping your audience cut through the clutter and they’ll appreciate you for it.

One of the best introductions I know of took place at a story seminar and it goes like this.

I remember my first day on the ward. There I was all decked out in my pristine white coat, complete with my newly minted name badge and Parker pen at the ready.
“Good morning doctor,” the ward sister said as I swept onto the ward stethoscope flying.
“Good morning sister, what can I do for you today?” I replied.
“We’ve got a post operative patient with nausea who needs something, could you write that up for her please?”
“No problem,” I said, as I whipped out my prescription pad and Parker pen. “What do we usually prescribe?”
“Ah yes….. and what dose?”
“12.5 mg.”
“Of course….how often do you think she’ll require it?” I said thoughtfully chewing the end of my pen.
“Three times a day,” replied sister Moriarity, “and the rest of the information you need is written on your name badge.”

You’re no going to forget this guy in a hurry, (me neither, I married him). If he’d said hello I’m so and so and I’m a doctor, I’m a specialist in… and I work…blah blah…., you see you’re falling asleep already. But you won’t forget the story where he showed you that despite all of his training and everything he thought he knew, he was still learning and not too humble to admit it.

Think of your introduction as more than a few stiff lines that you skim through under your breath in a big heap hurry. Spend some time working out what will make someone want to know more, and practice telling them that in 60 seconds.

The introduction is what gives you the opportunity to tell the rest of the story later.

Image by Clydeorama.

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The Purpose Of Branding

If a brand is more than just a logo, a tagline and the colour of the packaging, then what is branding?

Branding is simply turning up the volume on your mission

Branding is not something that’s arranged on the surface, like a stiffly coiffed hairstyle on a fashion model. It takes place from the inside out, so successful brands and ideas that fly are founded on a great mission, a story that we want to believe in.

Everything you do to tell that story from your brand name, to your social media interactions must amplify what you stand for, and communicate to the world why they should care that you brought this thing to life in the first place.

Branding is shorthand, not a shortcut.

Image by Stathis Stavrianos.

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The First Question Every Marketer Must Ask

It doesn’t matter if you are solopreneur hacking code in your bedroom, or a challenger brand trying to launch the next big thing. In fact this rule of thumb applies as much to high school kids begging for an extension on their end of semester essay assignment, as it does to Apple pitching us the latest iPad.

If you are out to convince anyone of anything, but especially if you’re working out how to make your idea matter this is the most important question to ask.

Why will people care about this?

When you’ve worked out why you have given someone a reason to care, then you’re onto something.

Image by el patojo.

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Why You Need A Mission More Than A Website

Nine times out of ten when I consult with clients they are impatient to get to work on the tactical side of spreading their idea. They wonder about what website and social media platforms to use. They worry about design elements and website functionality. Maybe you do too?

Of course you want to get your idea out there into the world. But while tactics are necessary to spread your idea, in the long run it’s more important to have an idea that matters first.

Many of the answers to the tactical stuff can be found with a quick sixty second search. You can’t Google your unique mission and vision, that’s why it is the foundation of your business or cause. The same rules apply to global corporations, solitary artists or tiny cafes.

Tactics help to promote your idea, a clear strategy is what really sells it. The first question you need to ask is ‘why will people care about this?’ and not, ‘how will we get them to buy this?’

People don’t buy into your platform, they buy into the difference you make.

Image by Retinafunk.

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Why Instagram Changes The Face Of Marketing

It’s no secret that I’ve been a huge advocate of Instagram as a customer engagement and brand storytelling tool since Pintrest was knee high to a grasshopper. I’m amazed that more brands are not taking advantage of what I believe is one of the most rich marketing and brand storytelling opportunities of the decade.

So imagine the thrill I got when I saw Jamie Oliver post this photo and a message that shows why Instagram changes everything.

“Free chilli freak Artisan pizza today show this picture as proof its on me only for instagram posse!!” —Jamie Oliver

How many pizzas do you reckon Jamie gave away that day….. a handful maybe? Who cares?!
There he is being himself, marketing in the moment, without the aid of a billboard or printed coupons. Speaking directly to the people who want to hear from him (over 200,000). Creating a bucket load of good will and telling a brand story that people can believe in.

Goodness knows why Instagram is probably the most overlooked social media platform for business and brands. Your idea can spread there in an instant. You can engage with customers on a deeper level and see how they are engaging with your brand in the moment, as they share their moments. Instagram goes beyond the Like, the Pin and the Tweet, because it shows you what people care enough about to capture, save and share. It’s the ultimate truth telling focus group, in real time.

It’s now possible for Orla Kiely to see how her products fit into her customer’s lives.. She can witness their reality from the comfort of her studio and engage with them if she chooses to.

And it’s not just the big guys who can leverage this platform. I’ve watched designers grow followings and artists create a fan base that led to real world demand for their work.

This is big. It changes everything…. don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

UPDATE: Just a day after I published this post I heard about newly launched Hashpix and how power Instagram users can sell (and are), limited edition photo prints online. This changes everything…. again.

Image by Kevin Harber.

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