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Articles filed in: Brand Story

On Finding The Right Customers


Building a sustainable and fulfilling business isn’t just about finding enough customers—it’s about finding enough of the right customers.

Here are ten questions you can ask yourself to guide your thinking about what kind of customers will enable you to do your best work.

10 Questions For Finding The Right Customers

1. If you could only work with a handful of customers, which would you choose?

2. Why are these customers ideal for you?

3. What do your ideal customers want from a service provider?

4. What do you want from your customers?

5. What story will you tell customers about why you are the best fit for them?

6. What story will you tell customers about why they are the best fit for you?

7. How will you price your products and services to attract only those ideal clients?

8. How many of these ‘right customers’ do you need to build a viable business?

9. Where will you find your ideal customers?

10. How will your ideal customers find you?

Customer-company fit is underrated.

Image by Cristina

Believed In


The one thing all successful ideas have in common is that they spread. But why?

The essential ingredient for making ideas spread is trust.

We must trust something before we can believe in it.
When we believe in something, we stick with it and share it.

So the first question we must ask ourselves isn’t how to get our idea to spread—it’s how can we do or say something worth believing in.

*If you’d like to get your message believed, not just noticed, consider joining us for
The Story Skills Workshop today at the discounted rate for my blog subscribers. I’m looking forward to helping you to tell better stories.
Here is your link to join.

Image by Mike

The Story Advantage


How can we get more attention for our idea?
How can we increase brand awareness?
How can we make people notice our work?

These are the questions I am often asked by the people and companies in search of a message that will give them a competitive advantage.

I don’t need to tell you that getting more eyeballs on your work won’t get any easier. Every day new businesses are launched and more videos, podcasts, articles and books are published. There will never be less competition for people’s attention than there is today.

But I’d argue that getting attention and building awareness are misguided goals. Fulfilling careers and thriving businesses are built on more than being noticed. And that’s good news for all of us.

We don’t need to go in search of some elusive message that might gain fleeting awareness. We already have an inherent competitive advantage—our unique, true stories about our life and our work. Those stories, well told, enable us to share messages that build strong ties with the people we hope to serve.

Our goal must always be to do what it takes, not just to be seen—but to matter. We don’t have to manufacture a message to get more attention, we have to create more affinity by getting better at saying what’s true.

If you want to get better at telling your stories, please consider joining us for the upcoming Story Skills Workshop.

Image by Clem Onojeghuo

Make Your Customer The Hero

Most marketing makes the company the hero.

Most companies go to great lengths to prove that their product is better.

Most marketer’s main aim is to close the sale.

The most effective marketing makes the customer the hero.

Beloved brands show people who they can become in the presence of their product.

The best marketers give people something to believe in, not just something to buy.

Image by Monica Leonardi

Your Brand Is What You Consistently Do


‘There’s nothing remarkable about what we do here,’ my hairstylist Leanne says, as I take a sip of the iced water, flavoured with fresh lime, placed next to a pile of new magazines and the coffee menu, by the receptionist who shows me to my seat.

‘It’s just what we do.’

And that’s the point. It’s what they consistently do—every time, without fail, that differentiates this business from the twenty others in the same suburb, where I could get my hair cut faster and cheaper.

The kind of people they consistently employ.
The type of products they consistently use.
The service they consistently deliver.
The promises they consistently make and keep.

Choices greater than the sum of their parts, that combined create a brand clients are loyal to, and a story they want to tell.

Image by Guilherme Petri

Stories Make Us Stronger


In my work with entrepreneurs and companies who want to get better at telling their story, I see patterns emerging. The companies who have a mechanism for finding, owning and sharing their stories, build strong cultures. I believe there are parallels between what I’ve witnessed in organisations and research into how stories make individuals stronger.

Almost a decade ago, researchers from Emory University published the findings of a study about the impact of knowing family history on children. Up until then, the effect of intergenerational stories on children’s wellbeing had not been measured.

The Emory researchers set out to do that, using what they called, the ‘Do You Know Scale’—a list of twenty questions about family history.

Unsurprisingly, they discovered that; ‘teens who knew more stories about their extended family showed ‘higher levels of emotional well-being, and also higher levels of identity achievement, even when controlling for general level of family functioning.’

Following the publication of a New York Times article that mentioned the study, the researchers were inundated with requests for the twenty questions. Many readers assumed they’d make their children resilient by simply teaching them the answers to the questions.

But as Marshall P Duke, one of the researchers pointed out. ‘Correlation is not causation. Simply knowing the answers to questions will not produce the good outcomes. It is not what is known that is the critical factor, but how the children came to know it. The researchers believe the process of making time to sit with each other and share stories is the causational factor.’

The bottom line is we build more resilient families, companies and communities when we know who we are. We get stronger together when we prioritise finding, owning and sharing our stories.

If you’d like to work on your story, find out more about The Story Skills Workshop I’m launching in collaboration with Seth Godin soon.

Image by Marissa Price

The Flipside Of Persuasion


All marketing begins by being curious about why people do what they do.

What drew that woman to the beautifully packaged candles?
Are customers who ask for assistance more likely to buy than those who don’t?
Why did the mother put that box of cereal back on the shelf after reading the label?
What stories do parents tell their children about money when they ask for something?
Why is the chocolate aisle the busiest spot in the supermarket on a winter evening?

Sales and marketing are as much about understanding, as they are about persuading.
Marketing works best when we care enough to empathise with the people we hope to serve.

Image by Tristan Colangelo

One Chance


If you could tell your ideal customer just one thing about your product, what would you tell them?

What would you change about your service if you knew you only had one chance to woo that customer?

How would things be different and better if we acted as if every chance to do the right thing was our first, last or only one?

Image by Jonalyn

The Value Shift


Sally studied Film and TV at college. She wants to be a director one day. But that’s a distant goal. In the meantime, she’s decided to put the skills she learned in college to work. Sally built a website and started working for friends of friends on their promotional business videos.

Sally is building her portfolio and has clients who are thrilled with the results. But she is less than thrilled with the filming and editing process. Over time, Sally’s realised the thing she loves best about her work is everything she does before she picks up the camera.

Her gift is getting her clients to open up about why they do what they do, not what they do. The reason Sally’s films are so good is because of the unbilled hours she spends with the client before filming begins. It’s hard to explain that to most people and it’s just as hard to charge for it.

What most clients pay Sally for—the deliverable, is that five minutes of video footage. But what Sally dreams of doing and being paid for is finding stories worth telling.

It’s easier for Sally to sell the outcome—the video, than it is to market her process and the impact of her work. So, she defaults to doing what’s easy and ends up selling videos in one-minute increments to clients who don’t understand or pay for her genius.

People happily pay for the tangible. But if the tangible—the logo, the report or the cup of coffee, is a fraction of the value we create, then we need to get better at selling the intangible.

It’s not unusual to wake up one day and find that the work people pay us for isn’t the work we intended to do. It’s our job to fix that, by telling the right story to the right people.

Is the work people pay you for the work you want to do?

Image by Vanilla Bear Films

Who Do You Want To Be To Whom?


Our local organic shop is dying. When it first opened, it stocked things health-conscious shoppers couldn’t get anywhere else. Organic vegetables, vegan and gluten-free products weren’t readily available in supermarkets. There wasn’t enough demand for coconut oil and buckwheat flour for supermarkets to stock them. But as we all know, a shift in awareness and worldviews about health and wellbeing has changed that.

As the shelves of organic produce in the big supermarkets expanded, the range of products at the local organic shop contracted. The first things to go when customers started to defect to supermarkets were things that seemed non-essential— the things that differentiated the local store and gave people a reason to come. Knowledgeable staff, free product tastings and community events. Flowers and plants for sale out front. All that went by the wayside. The in-house cafe hours were cut too.

Locals want to support the little guy. But it’s hard to justify a price difference of three dollars on a single item. The local shop isn’t more convenient than the big supermarkets, and it can’t compete on price, but it can provide an experience that’s head and shoulders above the big supermarket. If people don’t have a reason to come, then they’ll pick up their organic oats in the cereal aisle next to the Cheerios at one of the big supermarkets. The customer experience was that reason.

The key question for the owner is not how to compete—but who do we want to be to whom?

That’s the key question for all of us, no matter what business we’re in. When we lose sight of who we’re in business to serve, and why, we lose more than our competitive advantage. We lose the heart and soul of our business.

Image by Dan DeAlmeida

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