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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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Jimmy Choo Doesn’t Sell Shoes

Jimmy Choo has spent the past fifteen years successfully selling exactly the same thing over and over again and that thing isn’t leather or heels.

When a woman holds or covets a pair of Jimmy Choos, she isn’t imagining how the shoes will feel on her feet, she’s fantasizing about how she will feel in those shoes. Jimmy Choo packages that feeling and the story she tells herself, then sells it back to her.

If you’re in any doubt about that, just read these Choo Stories.

Then work out how to get your customers to tell those kinds of stories too.

Image by Kekkoz.

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Why Fascinate?— An Interview With Sally Hogshead

If you haven’t read Fascinate by Sally Hogshead go out and grab yourself a copy. In the book Sally explains how fascination plays a role in every type of decision making, from the brands you choose to the songs you remember, from the person you marry to the employees you hire. And by activating the right triggers (there are seven), you can make anything become fascinating, including you.

You can take Sally’s {F}SCORE test to discover your triggers and learn more about how to fascinate.

I had the huge pleasure of speaking to Sally last week, no mean feat, she’s one of the most in demand keynote speakers on the planet). Sally answered some of the questions I’ve been dying to ask her for six months and talked about how we can use our own metrics to differentiate.

So why do we need to fascinate?
Have we forgotten how to be fascinating?
And is being fascinating really a choice?

Image by Sharon Sperry Bloom.

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What If You’re Not Selling To Joe?

In a Googleised world it’s now possible to get a logo designed within a few short days for just $40. I know because my friends at the design agency Mat Dolphin wrote a post about it for Creative Review, The £25 Logo.

What’s a designer, a freelancer or a creative entrepreneur to do?

You’re not creating average designs for average Joe. You don’t need to preach to the unconverted. Tell the story that needs to be told to the people who want to hear it. If those people aren’t looking on Elance don’t tell it there.

Remember that the iPhone doesn’t matter to everyone and you don’t need to either.

Image by Michael Dornbierer.

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Show Them What You’re Made Of

You could wait around until the CEO rubber stamps your ideas. Your book can gather dust for years until an agent discovers your writing and you can while away a decade in a cubicle wondering when Saatchi and Saatchi will call.

Or you can simply show the world what you’re made of and pick yourself.

I love the story Ji Lee tells in the video below about how he decided to put some joy back into his work, by doing a project he had creative control over.

Proof that doing accomplishes what wishing never can.

Image by Jorge Quinteros.

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Why ‘How To’ Is The Wrong Place To Start

I hardly ever write ‘how to’ posts, even though they are a great way to drive ‘traffic’ to your blog. If you want to do that, go write a great list post.

Focusing on the ‘how to’ stops you thinking about the why and the what first.

Most companies question, how they will get their product noticed, before thinking about why on earth it will matter to customers? In a world where we’re bombarded with messages that we can choose to ignore, more of the same in a brighter package or more colourful box isn’t what we’re searching for. It isn’t what we tell our friends about either.

If you haven’t seen The Greatest Movie Ever Sold watch this trailer, the toe curling moment comes at 1.00. You don’t ever want to be in the position of the poor Ban deodorant marketing executives.

When customers and investors (or maybe even you), don’t understand your story or how to communicate it, your ideas and your products blend in. Your brand fails to connect with your audience and they don’t have a reason to buy into what you do and why you do it.

When people really ‘get it’ your brand has the potential to attract investors, dominate a niche and reinvent a market. Communicating the essence of a big vision is what has always, and will continue to power successful brands.

When your brand story makes an emotional connection with your customers they’re more likely to spread the word about who you are and what you do. Your customers have a bond with your brand. They buy in.

Starbucks didn’t set out just to sell coffee at premium prices, their mission was to be ‘the third place’ and the Apple brand is built on so much more than the utility and specifications of their products. Your potential customer’s relationship with your brand will likely begin before they actually purchase your product. Just as the cover of the book frames the content before the first page is turned. Doesn’t matter whether you sell coffee, computers, a writing workshop, design services or even deodorant.

Brand leaders always ask ‘why this’ before they work on ‘how to’.

That’s why we believe in them.

Image by Walt Jabsco.

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Giving A Damn Is Seriously Underrated

My boys had a sick rat last week. At the vet’s she was weighed and had her chest listened to. The vet sent her home with an antibiotic and instructions. If she didn’t get better very quickly the outlook wasn’t good.

At ten the following morning I got a call from the vet nurse. She asked how Luna was doing. If she was breathing any easier, or eating anything yet and if we had been able to get the medicine into her. She reminded me that it was okay to call back if we had any concerns. We were having this conversation about a $12 rat, that had another year of life in her either way and I just can’t stop thinking, (and talking) about it.

Nobody called the day after my son had a biopsy taken from his neck to see if he had a rare tumour, (thankfully he didn’t). Nobody called when they lost his school book order, or when we were without Internet for two weeks.

When nobody calls we interpret that as nobody cares. When they do call it blows us away and we tell ten friends.

That’s your opportunity.

Image by rofanator.

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How To Guarantee Failure

Do nothing.
Don’t start.
Sit on the fence.
Avoid taking the first step.
Stay in analysis.
Stand still.
Never ship.
Look for ten different opinions.
Act on none.
Stop trusting your gut and feeling like gold dust.
You are.

Image by Christa Lohman.

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Your Brand Is A Story

I’ll never forget the day my son read his first word. We were living in the UK at the time, I was driving through town that day when he piped up from the back, “that’s Asda”. I whipped my head around and saw him pointing an impossibly tiny finger at the huge ASDA sign towering above the road. He was just 18 months old. He’d barely learned to speak at all and yet he was forming an impression of a brand. Making meaning from a set of experiences he’d had and then tying them together. Just like this five year old.

Your brand is a story. A window on awareness. More than just a logo or a price ticket. That story is shaped by the experiences people have around everything you do, from typeface to copy and even how they felt and what they saw on their very first shopping trips with their mum. It has the power to become the stuff of myth and legend (even for a tiny audience), if you enable people to see themselves as part of the story too.

Image by Slimmer Jimmer.

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