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Articles filed in: Marketing

Invest in Second Contact

How many times have you bought something once from a business, and never returned?

How much time, energy and money did that business owner, or any company, devote to getting that first point of contact with a customer? The doughnut shop that attracts a passer-by with its signage, the hotel that pays for placement in the travel magazine, the artist who spends hours grooming her Instagram account.

Having done the hard work of attracting people, how much do we invest in ensuring we get another chance to serve that customer tomorrow?

We have come to believe that attention and awareness are the currency of success. They’re not. What matters more than getting someone’s attention is what you do to change how they feel once you’ve got it. Successful businesses are built on earning the second interaction, and the one after that.

Both the business and the customer win when we prioritise affinity over attention.

Image by Garry Knight

Begin With Wants and Needs


All successful businesses do two things.
They fulfil the unmet needs and unspoken desires of their ideal customer.

The businesses that find it challenging to market their products and services are the ones that fail to begin with this end in mind. They start with their needs, instead of a clear insight about what the customer wants.

So the artisan lamp maker who loves working with wood fails to find enough customers to keep his dream alive, because he makes a product that not enough people want. The business coach’s pitch falls flat, or the yoga studio opens in the wrong part of town.

When we see our customers, it shows. When we understand them, they know.

Image by Michael Prewett

What’s Your Promise To Your Customers?


It’s easy to revert to long-winded descriptions about what differentiates your products and services from those of your competitors, as you market your business.

A better place to start is by clearly stating your promise to your customers.

Are you the dentist who listens or that marketing agency the cares? The cafe that sources local ingredients or the gelato maker that’s on a mission to impact employment and business practices and consumer happiness.

There are a thousand ways to stand out with a better story. And you get to pick one.

What are you promising your customers?

Image by Patricia Prudente

When Subjectivity Wins

Does Nike make the best running shoes in the world?
Does Starbucks serve the best coffee?
Does Warby Parker design the best reading glasses?
Does Dollar Shave Club sell the best razors?
Does IKEA sell the best furniture?

Objectively, the answer is no. But ‘best’ is rarely objective.

Successful brands craft and tell stories for their ideal customers—the people who are ready to hear and believe them.

The more subjective we can be in our sales and marketing, the better.

Image by Banter Snaps

Get Specific To Get More Customers


When your idea fails to resonate, it’s easy to assume that the product or service, the pitch or the pricing are flawed. Before you go back to the drawing board, you must challenge those assumptions. The first assumption to test is if you’re reaching the right people.

One of the biggest marketing challenges we face is understanding our audience. It’s hard to know where to start. Begin by describing your ideal customer, just one person your product has helped or can help.

Who is that person?
What’s her backstory?
What does she want or need?
Who will she become in the presence of your product?

If you were opening a vegan tattoo studio, you’d know exactly where to open it, what inks to stock and what story to tell, because you’d be crystal clear about the worldview of the specific customer you’re serving.

Successful ideas gain traction because they draw on the existing values and beliefs of people they’re designed to serve. The more specific you can be about who your work is for and who it’s not for, the better your chances of gaining traction with more people.

Act like a vegan tattooist. The Story Strategy Course can help.

Image by DeMorris Byrd

Persuade On Purpose, With Purpose

When you were three years old, you knew exactly what to say, and how to say it, to get what you wanted. But somewhere along the line, you became reluctant to use these skills. We all did.

Stories of con men and unscrupulous marketers, manipulating people into doing things that were not in their best interests coloured our judgement about what it meant to be persuasive. Our culture taught us that persuasion was a trick used by people with dishonourable intentions.

But manipulation isn’t a necessary by-product of persuasion. Being persuasive can be a valuable skill used to impact the people we serve. Like any tool or skill, its effect depends on how it’s used. Our intentions matter. An axe can either build something or destroy it, and persuasion can be as much a force for good, as for bad.

If we’re in the business of making things that change people’s lives for the better, we must master the art of persuasion to help people make decisions they’re glad about.

Instead of wondering how we can convince people to buy our product or support our idea, we could ask ourselves what’s at stake for them if they don’t. Then we can be more persuasive on purpose, with purpose and our heads held high.

Image by Annie Sprat

The Value Conversation


Value is our subjective judgement about the utility, worth or desirability of goods, services or experiences.

It’s the story we each believe about the significance of something.

The value conversation is how we prioritise the allocation of finite resources.

The story we tell ourselves about the cost of gains over losses.

What’s the value conversation your customer is having?

Image by Mark Zamora

Say It With Intention


Communication is not simply an exchange of information.

We’re never just speaking or writing to be heard.
We’re always trying to make ourselves understood.

Before you make the call, deliver your speech or write that email, think about what you want the recipient to know and how you want her to feel.
Then speak or type with that intention.

Because how the recipient feels, not only what she thinks, determines what she does next.

Image by Michael Brace

Reverse Marketing


It seems like the most logical thing in the world to build your marketing strategy around the kind of customer you want to attract.

It stands to reason that you can tell a more resonant story when you know who you’re talking to. But when you’re faced with a market of everyone, it can be difficult to pinpoint your ideal customer. An easier place to start is by considering who you’re not for. Who is the antithesis of your ideal customer?

Who wouldn’t dream of buying your product or service, and why?

What’s the message you’d share to convince that person never to buy from you?

When you can tell that story well, you’ll be something to someone.

*Need help getting clear on your ideal customer so your marketing messages resonate?
The Story Strategy Course is for you.

Image by Todd Gross

Rethinking Customer Loyalty

We’re very good at measuring customer loyalty.

We can track how much a customer spends and how often. We know how long they have been with us and have a plan for retaining them. We create premium memberships, gold cards, reward programs and ego boosting voicemails.

And yet, we often overlook one important fact.
Loyalty is reciprocal. It’s a two-way street.

Even in the age of customer empowerment, an unprofessional dentist will overtreat a patient to boost revenue. An insurer will cancel the cover of a client who’s paid tens of thousands in premiums if a single payment is missed. A bank will close a local branch used by elderly customers, who don’t bank online, to cut costs.

If we’re eager to measure how loyal customers are to us, why aren’t we so keen to measure how loyal we are to them?

Maybe it’s time for a rethink?

What if instead of only measuring, rewarding and expecting loyalty, we started measuring how we demonstrate it?

Image by Todd Gross

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