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Articles filed in: Marketing

Reclaiming Old Marketing

The fastest way to shut down a conversation is to tell someone you’re ‘in marketing’.
Why is that?

Over the past six decades, the perception of marketing has changed dramatically. Marketing has gone from being a helpful conversation to being perceived as sleight of hand tactics that trick people into making decisions they later regret. That’s not the kind of marketing I grew up around. And it’s not the kind of marketing I want to practice or see in the world.

The kind of marketing I witnessed growing up was the helpful conversations my mother had with Buckley’s butchers about the best cuts of meat to buy for the meal she wanted to cook, within her budget. Their marketing worked even when the supermarket chains arrived because the Buckley’s had earned people’s trust over years of helpful conversations.

The promise of ‘new marketing’ was that we could reach more people, faster and cheaper. What wasn’t as clearly understood was what might be lost by going for those quick wins.

It turns out that the tools and tactics of new marketing aren’t a shortcut. The tried, trusted and true methods of old marketing help us to maintain our integrity and get to where we want to go.

Image by Denise Jans

Consistent, Persistent And Patient


The slim woman dressed in activewear, in line at the cafe next to the gym, orders a black coffee. As she’s handing over her card when the barista asks her the question he’s asked every single customer who ordered a takeaway coffee that morning.

‘Would you like a glazed doughnut for just $2 to go with your drink?’

‘No! Thanks,’ the woman laughs and rolls her eyes.

The barista shrugs before moving onto the next customer.

Of course, if the barista offers a doughnut to everyone, some customers will buy one. But what does that sale cost the business in eroded trust over time?

We’ve come to believe that the secret to being a successful communicator is to be consistent and persistent.

But it isn’t just the person who shows up to tell their story most often who wins. It’s the person who has the patience and empathy to understand the story they tell must serve the people they want to matter to.

Image by Nathan Shurr

Perfect Timing


The man raising money for charity stands near the Flinders Street station steps during the lunchtime rush. He waves his clipboard and attempts to catch someone’s eye. He starts his pitch several times, and when busy commuters silence him by raising a hand, he changes the script.

‘Are you a nature lover? Are you worried about climate change? Can I talk to you for just sixty seconds? Hi there!’

His words aren’t working for him. But it isn’t just what he’s saying or how he’s saying it that’s preventing him from engaging people in a sales conversation. His problem is imperfect timing.

A crowded street might seem like the ideal place to meet the maximum number of potential donors, but just because people are there doesn’t mean they are open to being interrupted or persuaded.

An ideal audience isn’t one that’s available—it’s one that’s receptive.

When we say something is just as important as how we say it.

Image by Alex Proimos

Looking For Someone


One day, maybe today—you will get an email enquiry or a call from a person who says they are ‘looking for someone’ who does what you do, to help them to achieve their goals.

You will be tasked with convincing this person you are the right ‘someone’ for the job.

You will need to find the right words and price to make them pick you above the other options they are considering.

Imagine how much better your story and your work would be if you weren’t aiming to convince everyone.

How can you become the one for the people you want to matter to?

Image by Brandon Lopez

Nurturing Growth


Most companies are founded to change something for the better. From Nike to Moo and Patagonia to Starbucks, the founding principle was grounded in service to a community of people with an unmet need—whether that was athletes, entrepreneurs, outdoor types or people who needed a place to get together over coffee.

It’s virtually impossible to think of building a successful business (or life), without having the intention to grow. But sometimes growth for growth’s sake can be a trap. What if instead of thinking about growing our businesses, our expertise or our influence, we considered how we could nurture them instead?

When we begin to think in terms of nurturing (protecting something while it grows), we are compelled to be more intentional about how we grow—and focusing on how makes all the difference.

Questions For You

1. Why is it necessary for your business to grow?
2. How does it need to grow?
3. What does sustainable growth look like for you?
4. What are you unwilling to compromise on to achieve growth?
5. What else should you consider before making your next move?

Every journey begins with two decisions.
We must figure out where we want to end up, but also and how we want to get there.

Image by Michał Parzuchowski

Showing Value


Did you know that on average, a buyer spends less than half an hour in a property before deciding to buy it?

How the property is styled influences the price people pay, as much, if not more than valuations and comparable sales data. A good property stylist leaves room for prospective buyers to imagine themselves in the space—making them feel like it could become their place.

When we’re in the business of serving or selling, we are regularly required to demonstrate the value we deliver.

We need to help customers experience what buying from or working with us will feel like, often before a transaction has taken place.

We often do this with reason and logic alone, by competing on price, speed or some other hard metric. But it turns out that people don’t just want to know how much something costs. They want a sense of how their lives will be changed by our product or service.

We can all benefit from learning to show, not just explain the value we create. Marketing and sales appeal to the imagination, they are about showing and telling.

Image by Roberto Nickson

On Finding The Right Customers


Building a sustainable and fulfilling business isn’t just about finding enough customers—it’s about finding enough of the right customers.

Here are ten questions you can ask yourself to guide your thinking about what kind of customers will enable you to do your best work.

10 Questions For Finding The Right Customers

1. If you could only work with a handful of customers, which would you choose?

2. Why are these customers ideal for you?

3. What do your ideal customers want from a service provider?

4. What do you want from your customers?

5. What story will you tell customers about why you are the best fit for them?

6. What story will you tell customers about why they are the best fit for you?

7. How will you price your products and services to attract only those ideal clients?

8. How many of these ‘right customers’ do you need to build a viable business?

9. Where will you find your ideal customers?

10. How will your ideal customers find you?

Customer-company fit is underrated.

Image by Cristina

Only Human


Today you and I will pay $4 for a coffee when we could have paid a dollar.

We will take vitamins it’s claimed will improve our health, even though we have no definitive proof that they do.

We will eat too much and exercise too little.

We will distract ourselves with non-urgent tasks and fail to do the one thing we promised ourselves we’d get done.

All because we are only human—beings, who as neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor says, are feeling creatures that think, not the thinking creatures who feel, we like to believe we are.

Despite knowing this, we will still try to convince our kids, our colleagues or our customers to change their minds with facts and rational arguments alone.

We need to constantly remind ourselves that we are neither all head or all heart and act accordingly.

Image by Shane Rounce

Believed In


The one thing all successful ideas have in common is that they spread. But why?

The essential ingredient for making ideas spread is trust.

We must trust something before we can believe in it.
When we believe in something, we stick with it and share it.

So the first question we must ask ourselves isn’t how to get our idea to spread—it’s how can we do or say something worth believing in.

*If you’d like to get your message believed, not just noticed, consider joining us for
The Story Skills Workshop today at the discounted rate for my blog subscribers. I’m looking forward to helping you to tell better stories.
Here is your link to join.

Image by Mike

The Story Advantage


How can we get more attention for our idea?
How can we increase brand awareness?
How can we make people notice our work?

These are the questions I am often asked by the people and companies in search of a message that will give them a competitive advantage.

I don’t need to tell you that getting more eyeballs on your work won’t get any easier. Every day new businesses are launched and more videos, podcasts, articles and books are published. There will never be less competition for people’s attention than there is today.

But I’d argue that getting attention and building awareness are misguided goals. Fulfilling careers and thriving businesses are built on more than being noticed. And that’s good news for all of us.

We don’t need to go in search of some elusive message that might gain fleeting awareness. We already have an inherent competitive advantage—our unique, true stories about our life and our work. Those stories, well told, enable us to share messages that build strong ties with the people we hope to serve.

Our goal must always be to do what it takes, not just to be seen—but to matter. We don’t have to manufacture a message to get more attention, we have to create more affinity by getting better at saying what’s true.

If you want to get better at telling your stories, please consider joining us for the upcoming Story Skills Workshop.

Image by Clem Onojeghuo

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