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Becoming Better Storytellers

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing


We’ve all heard the news that attention spans are shrinking. We’ve come to believe that the people we’re trying to reach are always distracted. If that’s so, how do we explain the rise of binge-watching, the success of serialised podcasts and long read articles? What we’re witnessing isn’t just a shift in the way content is consumed. It’s a change in the intention and behaviour of both audiences and content creators according to their preferred platform or media.

The goal of prolific tweeters and grammers is to distract, rather than to immerse their audience. People visit Twitter and Instagram when they want to be distracted. Steaming services want to keep us watching. Their intention gives rise to the creation of engaging content and better storytelling.

How we tell stories changes how people react and respond. How audiences react and respond changes the kinds of stories we tell.

We become better storytellers by knowing who we are and who we want to be to whom. Purposeful storytellers are intentional about the impact they want to have and the messages they choose to send.

How We Do Matters

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy

One of the owners of Melbourne’s most iconic café died tragically a week ago. Sisto Malaspina had been serving espresso to Melburnians at Pellegrini’s since 1974. Tributes poured in from across the community about the impact he and his café had on people and the city. The one that struck me was the story told by a man who arrived in Melbourne to start a new job, with little more than the clothes on his back. When he asked people where he should eat, they said, head to Pellegrini’s. They will feed you like family. Like family.

Making people feel like family was intentional, a choice Sisto and his team made every day.
A choice his business partner and his team will continue to make now he’s gone.

Whether we’re pouring coffee, doing accounts or designing logos, we decide how we’re going to show up. How we show up determines the customers who choose to show up and the kind of change we make. How we do things becomes our legacy.

Image by David Brewster

The Right Customer

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

A lot has changed in the six months since I last walked through the Melbourne suburb of Albert Park. New cafes have opened. Others have closed their doors. Some established cafes have queues of people waiting for tables, while several, just a few hundred metres down the street, are empty.

There’s no doubt that the best business ideas are a combination of the right product, launched at the right time. But even if a product or service ticks those two boxes, its success and longevity are still dependent on attracting and retaining the right customers.

We spend a lot of time thinking about and working on products and services, fixtures and fittings, design and marketing. We don’t spend enough time getting clear on who our ideal customer is, what they want from us today, and what will keep them coming back tomorrow. We can only begin to tell our story effectively when we understand the story of the person we’re trying to attract and delight. Who exactly is your right customer and why will he choose you?

Image by Garry Knight

The Power Of Because

filed in Brand Story


Over several decades our traditional, mass marketing culture taught us that marketing and sales were about finding the angle. Marketing became about getting creative with the truth and being a master of spin. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to do the kind of marketing we’re proud of. What if instead of trying to come up with an angle, we mastered truth-telling instead?

We can rediscover the truth about our value proposition by revisiting the reasons we originally showed up for these people at this time.

We made this because _______.
People need this because _______.
We do it this way because _______.
We want to appeal to this customer because _______.
This is the right thing to do because _______.
Our company exists because _______.

The truth is the most powerful sales and marketing strategy of all. We become better marketers by being honest with ourselves first and foremost.

Image by Garry Knight

The Feeling Customer

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing


One of the mistakes we make when we’re building a business and communicating our value is to only create for the thinking customer and his rational mind. Messages that resonate deeply connect with people’s feelings. Beloved brands and successful businesses appeal to their customers’ hearts, not just their heads. Wants and needs. Dreams and requirements. Desires and demands. Apple resonated by using design. Starbucks did it with rituals. Airbnb leveraged belonging.

We don’t just persuade people to act. We move them to act.

How are you serving wants as well as needs?

Image by Garry Knight

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