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Talk About What You’re Really Selling

In the factories we make perfume but in the stores we sell hope. ~ Charles Revlon

What makes clients become regulars and turns customers into evangelists? Most of the time it isn’t what you wrap up for them to take home.

Do you sell photographs or memories? Does your cafe sell coffee or lifestyle? Does your book store sell information or community? Does your pharmacy sell pills or empathy?

At Disney World they don’t sell rides, they sell magic. Zappos sells wow, not just shoes. Pandora sells memories, never charms.

Worth emulating?

Image by Billie Hara.

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Love Is A Marketing Metric

Put your products, service, website, signage, business cards, every touch point to a simple test. Stand in your customer’s shoes and answer one question:
what are three things that compel you to say, I love this? ~ Kevin Roberts

You can’t go wrong with your brand story and marketing, if you truly are putting your customer’s feelings front and centre. Put your energy into creating a product or service that people, (maybe not everyone, but enough people) love, and want to buy into.

Here are the only metrics you need.

  • Did she love it?
  • Will she come back?
  • Why?
  • Why not?

Imagine mattering to the world this much.

Image by Steve Rhodes.

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Not Every Heroine Gets To Choose Her Story

Today, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world. Only a handful get to choose their own story. This year 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 will become mothers, not by choice, or by design, but because poverty and lack of education makes it their destiny.

Imagine having little or no control over how the rest of your life, and the lives of your children will be lived. Imagine having no choice but to live the story that has already been written for you.

The Girl Effect is helping girls in developing countries to rewrite their stories, so that different stories can be written by future generations of families in the developing world.

This post is part of the 2011 Girl Effect Blogging Campaign.

Image by Harini Calamur.

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Artists Don’t Market

Kate is a gifted designer, a true artist. She spends hours foraging through discarded treasures finding just the right fabrics, that others would hardly notice. She lovingly puts them together in her studio, late into the night and creates one beautiful cushion. This cushion is unique, there isn’t another like it in the whole world. It’s got history. It’s been made by someone who appreciates beauty, who doesn’t want to spend her life just working to pay the bills at the end of the week. It contains a tiny piece of Kate’s soul. And every day it stays in her online store, not having found a home, a little piece of Kate’s soul dies.

“I don’t want to do marketing,” she protests. “I just want to create my art, artists don’t market.”

Your art is worthless without a place to call home.

Artists market every day, because they have no choice. They understand the value of their art is not just in the work and love that went into it, but in the pleasure it gives once it’s got somewhere to live, hands to hold it and people to share it. Artists find ways to tell stories about what they do, with website copy, and colour, stories and blogs. They find ways to make people laugh and cry, believe and covet. To reach into their hearts and create an emotional connection, with a book, a piece of fabric, a photograph, a design or idea. The best artists market to save their own soul, so they can keep doing the thing that matters.

Marketing is part of your art now.

Image by Michael Summers.

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Why A Better Business Story Matters

Santoso and Dian live within a kilometer of each other in the once sleepy town of Ubud, in Bali. Both men are master wood carvers and work for hours every day hunched on the floor of their tiny workshops. Happily for them Ubud is now the thriving arts center of the island and thousands of tourists arrive in buses, cars and taxis every day of the year, to shop for souvenirs to take home from their trip.

So every day they sweep the pavement in front of their workshops and set out row upon row of their amazing hand carved, statues, masks, trinket boxes and trays ready to showcase to their potential customers. The only fly in the ointment is that there are ten equally gifted craftsmen, with similar workshops and shopfronts all lining up along the same strip, trying to attract the same customers. Faced with all that competition Santoso and Dian can only see one way to differentiate themselves, and that’s by rushing to the bottom and being the cheapest wood carving artisan in the town.

The wood carvers in Ubud are not much different to artisan bakers on 9th Avenue, pizza chefs of via San Giovanni or crafters on Etsy. It’s all too easy to get stuck in the commodity and needs business. When you should really be in the emotional wants business. What would happen if Dian identified a niche for himself and told his story from a different angle? He might decide to offer wood carving lessons, with free souvenirs to take home. What if he became not just another wood carver in Ubud, but the wood carver to go to in Ubud?

If we want to be believed and not just noticed it’s time to think about telling a better story.

So many huge brands have built their businesses on servicing our needs, but appealing to our wants, Innocent, Apple, Zappos and even TED.

How are you selling emotional wants, and not just simple needs to your clients?

Image by Shenghung Lin.

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Uncertainty Book, Interview With Jonathan Fields

Fear of failure is not something that’s imagined, it’s real. In many ways it’s what drives us and ultimately prevents us from doing our best work.

Uncertainty is a signpost that what you’re doing matters. ~ Jonathan Fields

Jonathan Fields is on a mission to empower us to embrace fear and turn it into the fuel for our brilliance. In his new book Uncertainty (released this week), he explores how successful people overcome their fear of locking down the future and lean into fear, in order to achieve great things. I was delighted to speak to Jonathan recently about the ideas in the book. Enjoy the interview!

You can’t achieve anything great in the world by waiting for perfect. ~ Jonathan Fields

Image by Chaval Brasil.

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The Best Ideas Don’t Start With Solutions

Have you ever wondered why your ‘big ideas’ get stuck in mind map central, never to see the light of day, or don’t end up being as groundbreaking as you hoped? Part of the answer lies in the way you’ve been working on implementing those ideas.

Those moments of genius and excited clarity that you have in the shower, tend to start with a beautiful solution. Your ideas often focus on your brilliance and the unique contribution you can make to the world. This is as it should be, but it’s not where your planning should start.

Innovation doesn’t begin with solutions, it starts at the root of problems

Don’t begin with your answers. Start with their problems. Be secure in the knowledge that you have the skills and the talent to provide those solutions. Then go out and ask questions and find the problem to solve.

Image by INPIVIC.

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10 Rules For Writing A Compelling ‘About Me’ Page

Your about page is one of the most visited pages on your website. It’s the place where prospective customers decide if you’re right for them, and your best chance to convert more website visits to enquiries and more enquiries to customers. That’s why your about page copy is the most important sales copy you’ll ever write.

How To Write A Compelling About Page

1. Know who you’re talking to.

Customer insight is your superpower. You are at your most persuasive when you understand your customer’s unmet needs. Your about page copy should reflect that.

2. Don’t just lead with the facts.
Facts alone don’t persuade. People want to hear your story. Make your website a window, not a wall.

3. Share your values.
Tell people who you are and what you believe.

4. Show yourself.
Build trust by adding a professional photo to your bio and about page. People buy from people. Your potential clients want to see the person behind the business.

5. Tell the story of your professional journey.
Share how you got to where you are today. Help your website visitors to understand how you know what you know.

6. Tell people how you can help them.
Be specific, add links to products and services.

7. Demonstrate how you’ve provided solutions for others.
Link to your portfolio, projects or client case studies.

8. Help people to understand the benefits of working with or buying from you.
Add client testimonials and stories about how you work.

9. Add calls to action and a contact link.
Your about page should not only provide information and build trust, but it must also call potential clients to take action.

10. Don’t make it all about you.
Think about why you’re writing your about page in the first place and how you want the reader to feel when she’s done reading it.

*Bonus* Write like you speak.
Sometimes in our attempt to sound professional, we use words that distance us from prospective customers. The goal is to build trust and to stand out by being and soundling like who you are. Avoid the jargon that everyone else uses at all costs!

Get the guide that’s helped hundreds of business owners to write an about page that works.

The About Page Guide

Examples of About Pages That Work

Go-To Skincare
It’s clear that the company’s founder Zoe has spent time getting to know her audience. Every word on this about page says, ‘I see you’ to the reader.

James Clear
James tells readers exactly what they are going to get, and his home page is one of the best examples of an email sign up embedded in an about page that I’ve seen. He not only tells people what to expect, but he also shows them what to do using great calls to action.

Warby Parker
They know that the about page is the start of a conversation and a huge part of their marketing strategy—it shows.

Michael Hyatt
Michael informs the reader about what they can expect to learn from him and the value he creates for his audience.
He builds trust in several great ways, using photos, information about his professional and personal life, achievements and subscriber numbers.

A great example of an about page that communicates purpose builds trust and helps a prospective customer to know what to do next with calls to action.

If you’re a camera company what better way to tell your story than to use video.

Your about page is a key part of your marketing strategy. Don’t waste this opportunity to connect with your prospective customers.


Ready to get your about page working for you?

Get the About Page guide.


Image by Looking 4 Poetry

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u2 Don’t Sing To Everyone

Back in the 80’s when U2 were starting out they knew they were singing for me, and the 520 other girls at my school. It didn’t matter that they wrote songs that didn’t resonate with my mother. They knew that we drew their album graphics with a Bic Biro on our canvas school bags and scribbled their name on our exercise books during boring history lessons.

Who are you creating for?

Who will kill for your designs? Who is going to buy your book or schedule a consultation. Who will understand your message? Hand on heart, do you really know?

It’s so easy to overlook this when you’re building your business and crafting your brand.

The creation part, building the thing, scoping out the spec and writing the sales page is hard enough. So with blind faith we sometimes believe that because we perceive a need and work of filling it, that if we build it they will come. Maybe they will, but the thing is if you create something with a specific audience in mind then even laying the foundations of your idea becomes so much easier.

Start by knowing your audience, then build the idea just for them

Call it what you will, target audience, niche market or client avatar. The label is irrelevant, the purpose is to understand the human being(s) behind that label. That understanding of your audience turns needs into wants and means that you no longer have to use the megaphone to reach them. They will begin to hear you from whispering distance.

One of the best target audience descriptions I’ve ever read was written by John Locke. He’s the guy who sold over a million ebooks in five months, so I guess knowing who he’s talking to hasn’t worked so badly for him. Here’s some of what he wrote:

“The people who love my books love everyday heroes. They are compassionate people who root for the underdog, but are drawn to the outrageous and have a dry sense of humour. They are all ages but a surprising number are professional men and women above the age of 50. More than 70% are women. My readers are much more intelligent than you might think, many are doctors nurses and business leaders.

Those who like my books tend to be busy people who are frazzled and stressed out beyond the point of no return. They’ve read their share of high brow books, but these days they mostly read to relax with a fast paced easy read that makes them laugh out loud. My readers are smarter than my heroes and they know it. They like the small bit of research I do. They don’t want to be educated but they love to learn one or two unusual facts along the way they can pass on in conversations at dinner.

My readers are renegades they like things editors hate, light character descriptions and almost no detail about settings. They know I’m not trying to save the world or write meaningful literature that kids might have to study in school someday. They know the sole purpose of my writing is to make them smile or laugh for a few hours on a day when they need it most, and they like that about me.”

How would your products be different if you sat down and created a client avatar like this? Often the hardest thing isn’t finding the problem to solve, but finding the people to solve that problem for.

Image by Danny Hammontree.

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5 Of The Best Brand Stories On The Planet

Yes I know, yet another one of those articles that tells you how to win in business by telling a better brand story, *sigh*. When all you really want to know is how to get lots of people to notice your great idea and then how to make shed loads of money from it.

I’m not going to bore you with the be authentic, consistent, relatable, relevant and let me help create that for you, stuff you’ve heard before. I’m just going to show you how it’s been done by some of the best in the world and give you the three essential ingredients for telling a great brand story.

Three Steps To Telling A Great Brand Story

1. Caring
Start by caring about your customers, the work you do, the products and services you sell and the difference that you can make in the world. Yeah, yeah, sounds obvious to you I know, but it’s not to everyone.

2. Significance
This is where most businesses, startups and their brand stories come unstuck. They forget to ask themselves the most important marketing question in the world. Why will people care about this? You need to work out why your product or service could be important to your customer? Why does she need it? How does it add meaning to her life? To do this you need to know who your target audience is.

3. Story
When you know your audience and understand the significance of your product, service or idea, all that’s left to do is to tell the story about how what you do or sell fits into the life of your customers and clients.

What’s great about the brand stories featured below is that they have a unique set of values and they truly understand the audiences they speak to. Take some time to read the stories I’ve linked to on their websites as well as watching the videos.

Innocent Drinks

Custom Ink

Epipheo Studios

Charity Water

TOMS Shoes

What are your favourite brand stories? How are you showing people why they should care about your brand?

Image by TB Steve.

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