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Articles filed in: Strategy


If you’re reading this post, it’s because it got past one or more of your filters. Maybe you were anticipating receiving it because you subscribed to my blog. Perhaps it popped up in your search results. Either way, you’re here because you chose to be—not just because I reached out to you.

The people you’re trying to reach and resonate with are filtering too. From the contacts you try to add on LinkedIn, to the clients you’re hoping to attract. They are deciding who is worthy of their permission and their time.

So the question for you and me is not just how do we get past the filters, but how do we become worthy of the limited time and attention of the people we want to matter to?

Image by JM Thomson

The Value Of Discernment

Picture the scene. You’re at a networking event or a party. The room is buzzing—it’s packed full of people who you could strike up a conversation with.

Of course, you’ll never get around to speaking to everyone that evening. So you have to choose who to walk up to and introduce yourself. You don’t want to meet just anyone. You want to spend your time speaking to the people you can really connect with.

Now, picture that packed room as potential customers for your business. You can’t have a conversation with every one of those people. Who would you choose to speak to, and how will you know that person when you see them?

The better we are at discerning our right people the more shared value we can create.

Image by Railway Summit

Exactly Who Do You Serve?

The most successful restaurant on the shopping strip close to where I live is a vegan taco restaurant. Other restaurants come and go, but the taco place endures. Rain or shine, day in and day out they’re always busy.

As you can imagine, every time I walk past I wonder why. Why has the taco place succeeded where so many others with bigger marketing budgets, fancier fit-outs, and more extensive menus have failed?

I think it comes down to the fact that they know who they’re for.

They can describe their customer with such clarity that they don’t have to second guess their menu, decor and pricing.

It’s easier to make room at the table for the right people when you know who those people are.

Who, exactly are you in business to serve?

If you’re not sure, my Story Strategy Course will help you to answer that question.

Image by Vince Fleming

The Power Of Owning Your Work

The assistant at the family-run pasta shop is giving me instructions about how to cook the fresh ravioli she’s wrapping up for me to take home.

She never once refers to it as ‘the ravioli’ during the entire conversation. Whenever she speaks about the pasta her family makes fresh on the premisies every day, she describes it with pride as, ‘my ravioli’.

‘You can’t fail with my ravioli. My ravioli doesn’t need an elaborate sauce to make it taste great. That’s why people always come back for my ravioli.’

She was signing her work with every word. The way she speaks about her product makes it better and more valuable to the people lucky enough to eat it.

How are you owning the work you’re proud of?

Image by Jametlene Reskp

Disappointment And Delight

One day you will disappoint a customer.

You will let her down by failing to do the thing you promised.

She will leave that day feeling like she got less than she paid for.

But more than that, she will stop trusting that you will keep your word next time around.

Things don’t always go to plan. Mistakes happen.

That’s why it’s important to allow for them.

You are human. You won’t always get it right.

But you can find an opportunity to delight, especially when you disappoint.

A mistake doesn’t always have to end in disappointment.

Image by Brian J. Beggerly

It’s Not For You

‘It’s not for you,’ are four of the most powerful, yet hardest, words you can say, no matter what you have to share, sell or serve.

It takes courage not to be for everyone or to close the door on what at first glance looked like an opportunity.

But when you’re brave enough to put a stake in the ground, you will find your right people. Those people who you can help. The ones who will show up, ready to act—the people who would miss you.

The flip side, of course, is that you need to recognise your people. Those who you can confidently tell, ‘This is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

We do work that matters when we know who we want to matter to.

Image by Yelp

Effective Change

Even though nine of her children emigrated to England in the 1960s to find work, my grandmother never travelled outside Ireland.

She refused to taste cucumber, even though my English aunt insisted on making cucumber sandwiches whenever she came to visit.

Even after her doctor told her cigarettes were bad for her angina. Granny still smoked forty cigarettes a day, until the day she died of a massive heart attack.

My Granny didn’t see herself as the kind of person who would get on a boat or try food she’d never eaten. And her enjoyment of smoking outweighed the downsides in her eyes.

Changemaking isn’t as simple as taking someone on a journey to something different. Effective change engages someone in the act of being the kind of person they want to be.

When you know who your people want to become, you can tell a more relevant and resonant story.

Image by Tiago Murano

On Persuasion

Why are travellers paying to offset carbon emissions of their flights in record numbers?

Is it guilt that’s fueling this carbon offset boom?

It’s hard to persuade anyone to change their beliefs or behaviour.

But we all like to act in ways that feel consistent.

If we find ourselves liking a climate crisis Instagram post, or nodding when we hear Greta Thunberg speak, we’re more likely to pay to offset our emissions next time we fly.

Persuasion is less about making people have a complete change of heart and more about finding common ground.

The most persuasive people convince us incrementally—not by trying to change us, but by reminding us who we are.

Image by Li-An Lim

Faith Vs. Proof

In a digital world, where customers have infinite choices, and loyalty is precarious, it’s easy to believe the more information we give people, the better.

It turns out that the opposite is true. We’re more likely to retain customers, get repeat sales and be recommended by simplifying the decision process.

What people want is the quickest way to discern if they can trust us and our offering.

Our customers don’t always want more proof—often what they need from us is more faith—not just in us, but in themselves.

Image by Sam Wheeler

Better Marketers Show And Tell

Every day, we sell ourselves in adjectives that sell us short.
Leader, expert, communicator, specialist, efficient, experienced, better, faster, cheaper.

We’ve forsaken the effort of showing, for the convenience of telling.
There is a better way.

Don’t just tell us about the features and benefits of your product.
Show us how that product changed the lives of the people who used it.

Don’t just tell us about the services you offer.
Show us how you helped your client achieve the outcome they dreamed of.

Don’t just tell us about your skills and expertise.
Show us the impact those skills had on someone or something.

Your work matters. Show us why.

Image by Susan Jane Golding