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Articles filed in: Storytelling


The path to success is not simply determined by the ability to have great ideas. The capacity to understand their relevance in the world, to customers, (real people) and to sell that, is what makes a product, service, cause or idea fly.

The MP3 player is one of the best examples of a situation where being first with the idea didn’t matter one jot. Lots of people came selling their tech and spec before Apple launched the iPod. They just didn’t tell a compelling story. People can’t fall in love with 32MB and user interfaces.
But “1000 songs in your pocket.” Now that’s compelling!

The path to success is littered with great ideas poorly marketed

Compelling is empowering people to take action.
“You’ve got to get on the phone and take the money out of your pocket. Don’t go to the pub tonight. PLEASE! Stay in and give us the money. There are people dying NOW! So give me the money.”
Bob Geldof on Live Aid

Compelling is telling people to, love where they live, rather than asking them to buy your flat pack furniture and a red cushion they probably don’t need.

Compelling is Mickey balloons on Main Street at dusk.

And compelling is you amplifying your passion enough to tell people why you’re different and what that difference could mean to them.

Image by Samantha Decker.

Advertising Is Not Real Marketing

Think about the people you do business with and the brands you care about. Are you drawn in by their advertising or their marketing story?

That full colour advert in the Sunday supplement is a tactic. So is the expensive, shiny new website you’re having built and those letterpress business cards you spent a fortune on. Tactics help you to communicate your message. Real marketing makes it stick.

Real marketing is built into what you do and why you do it. It’s part of your story, something that you do organically when your business is aligned with your mission and values. Kept promises, free returns, getting back to people, clean tables and attentive staff are your real marketing. Real marketing creates an impact, leaves a lasting impression and is as powerful as a smile.

How are you making real marketing work for you?

Image by zz77.

People Don’t Want To Buy Your Process

I’m working with a client who is choosing images for her website, she’s worried that they need relate exactly to the services she offers. Maybe you do too?

When Grace comes into your salon to have her legs waxed she doesn’t usually ask what kind of wax you use. You might think what she needs is to be hair free, but what she really wants is to look sexy on the beach this weekend. Joe doesn’t care much about the work that goes into coding that ’hire me’ graphic for his website. He just wants you to make him look more professional, so he can afford that holiday on the east coast next summer.

Although your energy goes into the process, what your customer is buying are the results. When was the last time you thought about the hard labour of the honey bee when you took a bite out of your toast?

Don’t be afraid to tell people the story of your business in a different way, a way that other businesses choose not to. Practice the art of selling people what they really want. You might be surprised by your results.

Image by TW Collins.

Don’t Just Tell Me What It’s Made Of

Jo is an amazing designer. She creates hand made scarves, from locally woven fabrics which she designs herself. Her website tells part of the story. Jo writes about the materials used, the time it takes to create the design, source just the right fabric dyes and weave the most exquisite scarves you have ever seen. I read all about her passion for her work, and why it’s important to be unique. I found out that Jo did made beautiful things, but I didn’t know why I should care about them.

Until I met her that is. “You know that you’ve done the right thing by spending that extra little bit on your scarf, when four or five people in the room stop you to admire it.” Jo said. And just like that I understand why I would want one, not simply because it would look great, but because of how I could imagine myself feeling when I wore it.

When Jamie Oliver makes a salad, he talks about the ingredients he’s added to make it taste perfect, but he doesn’t stop there, he paints a picture of you sharing it with family and friends.



Don’t just make something wonderful. Make me a hero.

Image by Ashley Rose.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 sounding 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

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.