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Visible Vs. Memorable

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy

When my friend Mark opened his bakery, he was faced with a marketing dilemma. Should he blow his marketing budget on a single print advert that would cost him several thousand dollars or should he invest that money in something else? The promise of brand validation and the creation of mass awareness made the print advert tempting. But Mark wasn’t aiming to build a business that was more visible. He wanted to connect with his community around memorable experiences.

So instead of spending his marketing budget on conventional advertising, Mark created the weekly bread basket. The basket contained a week’s supply of delicious fresh bread which one lucky customer got to take home and enjoy. But here’s the best part. Each customer who received the basket nominated the next person to get one and recorded why they chose their friend or neighbour in a notebook at the bakery. The bread basket didn’t just spread the word about Mark’s bakery.
It connected friends and neighbours and made them feel like they mattered.

The kind of marketing we invest in sends a signal the kind of company we are aspiring to build. The immediacy of gaining awareness feels like progress.
But awareness isn’t what keeps customers coming back.

Image by scattered view

Sell It Like You Made It

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy

The days when you could go down to the Milofsky’s Hardware supplies, and come away with a couple of screws carefully wrapped in brown paper, which were perfect for the job, are long gone. The days when Mrs O’Hanlon didn’t mind taking this heavy glass jar, then that one, down from the shelves of her sweet shop for a kid trying to make her ten pence go as far as possible are long gone too. I miss them. We all do— even if we never lived them.

Many of us have the chance to sign our work—to put our name over the door figuratively. For many others, the work they do is anonymous. They don’t have the opportunity to put their name to it. But in either case, however you work and whatever you have a part in creating, building or selling, it’s made better when you sell it like you made it.

When we take ownership of our work, our story and the change we’re here to create the people on the receiving end know. And that sense that the product or service was made and sold with care and empathy and love makes the experience better. It makes us better too.

Image by Edna Winti

Transactions Vs. Experiences

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

The hotel was nothing to write home about. You couldn’t really fault it either. The facilities, which matched the hotel’s star rating were as described. The room was clean. The bed was comfortable. The staff were efficient and polite. But—you knew there was a ‘but’ coming. The place lacked a spirit of generosity. It had no soul. There was no magic. It was as if the management had deliberately planned to deliver the minimum required to meet spec and no more. I got a room, and the hotel got my credit card details. A transaction took place.

Every business has a story to tell about how discerning, disgruntled and sometimes downright demanding customers have become. It’s as if peoples’ expectations know no bounds. There’s another side to this story though. Our side. The story about what’s at stake for us as leaders, entrepreneurs and marketers. When we deliver the minimum required and deal only in transactions, we’re not only disappointing customers—we’re selling ourselves short in all kinds of ways that can’t be measured on a balance sheet at the end of the quarter.

Our customers subconsciously mirror our attitudes and behaviour. When we deal in transactions, we become transactional brands. When we go above and beyond, people know. When we are generous, they respond.

My friend James runs a thriving cafe in Fitzroy Gardens called KereKere. The cafe gets its name from the Fijian custom of giving without expecting anything in return. KereKere customers leave feeling that they got more than they paid for because James has intentionally built a business that creates experiences. James doesn’t believe in simply processing transactions.

The inadequacy of the adequate isn’t just that it leaves customers feeling flat, it’s that it denies us the opportunity to do our best, most meaningful work.

Image by Linh Nguyen

Marketing Efficacy And Expectations

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

When ‘meal replacement’ shakes first came to market they seemed like the answer to a dieter’s prayers. Replacing one or two regular meals with a calorie counted milkshake meant ingesting fewer calories, resulting in rapid weight loss. Meal replacements worked for some people for a little while. Those first few pounds often ‘fell off’. But monotony soon overcame motivation. Dieters gained weight as soon as they went back to eating real food.

The efficacy of the product failed to meet expectations. It’s not that the product didn’t work.
It’s just that it didn’t do everything the customer hoped it would do.

We have a similar problem when it comes to marketing. We sometimes expect our marketing messages to do too much heavy lifting and are disappointed with the results. It’s almost impossible for a marketing message to take a customer from awareness to action in a single leap. And yet, becoming the outlier is the holy grail of marketing. We dream of being the bestseller, the blockbuster, the breakthrough. Mostly we’re disappointed by our results.

Often the problem isn’t the efficacy of our marketing—it’s our expectations about the kind of change it’s possible to create, with the resources we have, in the time we’ve allowed. Two questions worth asking at the outset then—what are we asking this marketing message to do and is it reasonable to expect the result we want in the time we have?

Image by Paul Kelly

Being Seen And Heard

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The numbers vary, but the trend is unmistakable. The average consumer is subjected to more marketing messages every day. In a world where it’s harder to get noticed marketers have responded by trying to be more visible. Being noticed is the goal of most marketing.

The irony is five seconds in the spotlight doesn’t make or break a career or a company. It’s the five years of work that preceded those five seconds that make all the difference.

Our goal isn’t simply to been seen and heard—it is to do work that’s worthy of being seen and heard.

Image by Blahu

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