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Articles filed in: Marketing

What’s The Most Important Marketing Question In The World?

“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.”
George Eliot

Head down to your nearest Borders bookstore (while there still is one) and you’ll find hundreds of titles that all aim to help you answer this question. If Borders had asked the very same question and acted upon the answer they probably wouldn’t be liquidating right now.

So what is the number one thing you should ask yourself before launching a product, designing that service, writing your book or opening the cafe?

Why will people care about this?

*Bonus* – The second most important marketing question in the world is:

How can we help people to care about this?

Image by las-initially.

What Worldview Are You Marketing To?

“No matter how brilliantly an idea is stated, we will not really be moved unless we have already half thought of it ourselves.” – Mignon McLaughlin

Sometimes our ideas spread because their time has come. Maybe because we’ve worked out who we need to be talking to and what some of those people are ready to hear and believe.

It doesn’t matter what you are selling or which story you are telling, if people are not ready to listen then you can’t make them. That’s why ideas like these that are framed around a particular worldview are the ones that fly.

Chris Guillebeau a non-conformist writer and entrepreneur travels the world showing people how they could do the same. His followers are people who aspire to be like him and break free from the 9 to 5.

210,000 people who aspire to leading a simpler life read and support Leo Babuta’s Zen Habits, making it one of the Top 25 blogs in the world in 2010.

Millions of people tired of the bureaucracy in large foundations were ready to hear the truth and see the impact of their donations to charity. Hence the success of charity:water

25,000 people with a particular worldview are wearing Blackspot’s earth-friendly, anti-sweatshop, and cruelty-free shoes.

Worldviews are the reason billions of books are sold every year without the buyers knowing what the contents are and why 140 women and willing to pay $1,000 for a one day event.

What do the people you are marketing to really want? What do they want to believe?

Image by Momentary Glimpse.

Do You Sound Like You Are Amazing?

Does your brand story give people something to buy into, to care about and to engage with? I’m not talking empty hype you could create, I’m talking about how you frame the truth.

Some of the worlds best loved tiny brands took off for two reasons. Firstly they had a great idea and secondly they knew how to tell a story about the idea that would excite and engage people. A great story can’t prop up a bad product or service. But a great product based on a true story, that makes people care is irresistible.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

Innocent drinks – Fruit is messy, it’s important to be healthy. Here’s a way to get it into you and your kids that’s easy, tasty and makes you feel good. Oh, and we are good guys who like to have fun too.

Zappos – We know you love shopping day and night. Let us make it easy for you to do that online without any down side, with free delivery and free returns, no questions asked. You can trust us to always be here for you and do the right thing by you.

Moo – You want to make a great first impression with your business cards. Custom printing and design is expensive. We can help you out with fabulous designs or a custom process that is fun yet seamless.

After over seventy years Old Spice is proof that the story you tell matters. It used to be the smelly stuff you bought your Dad for Christmas. Now you buy it (or your partner does) to ‘smell as fresh as you look’.

“Like water slowly cracking rock, stories begin to change what matters to us.”
Emiel van den Boomen

No point being amazing if you don’t sound like you are.

Image by Kami

Understanding How To Spread An Idea

“Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” Nolan Bushnell

So how do you begin to make an impact and spread an idea?

1. Create something that people want to talk about.
2. Give people a way to share it.
3. Know who you are talking to or targeting.
4. Understand your audience.
5. Work out what people want before they do.
6. Think about what one person will say to another to recommend it.
7. Question why someone will buy, use, or talk about your thing over another.
8. Believe in the idea yourself.
9. Be the best choice.
10. Create for a few.
11. Make it work for the many.
12. Ask people to try it.
13. Engage people and build trust.
14. Connect your true fans.
15. Help people to care about what you do or sell.
16. Ask your followers to share it.
17. Make people laugh.
18. Make people cry.
19. Do something unexpected.
20. Be generous.
21. Promise something and deliver on it.
22. Create something people want, not just something they need.
23. Be passionate.
24. Start!
25. Evaluate and make it better.

Image by Today is a good day.

How Will I Know You?

The 1915 design brief for the original Coke bottle was simple. The criteria were that it must be recognisable in the dark and if it was broken. The result; a timeless, elegant solution which plays a huge part in creating a memorable brand story.

Think about how you could apply criteria like these to make your brand unforgettable.

Do you have a memorable voice like Virgin?
Are you showing up every day like Seth?
Does your service WOW! like Zappos?
Are you more vivid than Sydney?
As friendly as IKEA?
Do you make people feel as creative as Moleskine?
Can you show your impact like charity:water?
Are you the best in the world like Bill?

Brands that succeed stand out. Ideas that spread stand for something.

Image by AJ Brustein.

6 Questions For Crafting Your Relevance

When was the last time something caught your attention? In our increasingly noisy world things that captivate us for more than a few seconds are few and far between.

We have become experts at shutting things out, at not paying attention to anything that doesn’t hold relevance for us. In any market we need to think about how we can become relevant. Remember relevance in the eyes of our customer might not be the same as relevance in ours.

Six Questions For Crafting Your Brand Relevance

1. Who do we want to care about what we sell or do?
2. Why would those people care about what we do or what we are selling?
3. Why would they cross the street to buy from us?
4. What emotional want are we fulfilling?
5. How can we make this more about them and less about us?
6. What will they be able to say to their friends to recommend us?

We need to give people one reason to care about us, not just a hundred different reasons to buy from us.

Image by Barbara Mazzarella.

25 Ideas On Using Instagram For Business

Instagram is a ‘real-time’ photo sharing application currently available as a free App for iPhone and iPod with plans to extend to a website and other mobile platforms in the near future.

More than that though it’s a storytelling, entertainment and engagement platform with 3 million users and growing, (update now at 10 million+) from every corner of the globe. You can see the world as it is, as it’s happening through the eyes of real people, share your own images and start conversations. Instagram also enables users to share their photos on other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Four Square.

Why are people using it?

The beauty of Instagram is that it erodes all of the problems of photo sharing. It’s fast and easy to use on the go. It makes photos, even ordinary ones look beautiful with a series of filters you can apply in seconds. It integrates seamlessly with other social sharing platforms. There are an increasing numbers of websites and platforms which allow Instagram users to share and buy physical products of images. It connects and entertains people. It allows them to tell their story. And it’s free!

Why should brands and businesses be interested?

Instagram is a place where people are sharing and telling their story through images in the moment. It goes beyond Twitter’s; ‘what are you doing?’. In fact many commentators are describing it as Twitter meets Flickr.
It provides ‘real time’ insights into how people are interacting with the world and most probably your product. This platform will enable brands to connect directly with users and customers like never before and gain ‘real-time’ insights into how consumers are interacting with their brand.

How and why businesses and brands should use Instagram?

1. It helps brands to find products for their customers not just customers for their products.
2. It’s an opportunity to conduct real-time market research.
3. To drive momentum.
4. To get people talking about what you do and why you do it.
5. For customer engagement and intuitive marketing.
6. To deepen relationships.
7. It enables you to put the customer front a center.
8. For running competitions.
9. To see and hear what consumers believe about your brand.
10. To get opinions before you need them.
11. As a way to create a buzz about what you are doing.
12. As a platform to help fans find and interact with each other over a shared love of what you do.
13. It’s free!

Getting started

14. Download the Instragram App and create your profile.
15. Obtain the all important username (many brands have yet to act on this, think Twitter).
16. Post photos of your products and behind the scenes of your business.
17. Announce your Instagram arrival to your followers and fans on other social sharing platforms.
18. Ask for feedback.
19. Listen to comments.
20. Interact with your followers.
21. Search hashtag categories to gain insights into how people are interacting in your space.
22. Tell your brand story in new and interesting ways.
23. Post regularly and monitor your account.
24. Share your photos across other social sharing platforms.
25. Optimize.

How non-profits are using Instagram to engage with their communities.
Is your business on Instagram?
How to run a photo contest on Instagram.
Instagram tips from top beverage brands.

Image by Xava du.

Your Best Idea….

“There is no map. You are the mapmaker.” Shoshana Zuboff

Your best idea…..

is not always the one that will make the most money.
may be the one that people laugh at.
is true.
could be tested or implemented for close to free.
can be explained in 140 characters or less.
might seem insignificant.
may not be yours.
is scarce.
might be exclusive.
is already out there.
is original.
makes a promise.
is not for everyone.
is untested.
could be instinctive.
might be strategic.
is carefully planned.
is accidental.
has been tried by others.
tells and old story in a new way.
connects people.
scares you.
is impractical.
is generous.
creates meaning.
happens out of the corner of your eye.
is at the edge of what already exists.
doesn’t need the permission of others.
is the one they said wouldn’t work.
could be given away for free.
is your passion.
could be boring.
might fail.
deserves to see the light of day.
is an opportunity.
changes the way people think and act.
solves a problem.
benefits others more than you.
hasn’t come to you yet.
needs a deadline.
brings people joy.
is easy to share.
changes how people feel.

What else?

Image by John Cooper.

Questions To Ask Before Launching An Idea

It’s not that hard to get really enthusiastic about your own great idea for a business, product, service or movement. But how do you work out if other people will be excited enough about it to spread the idea and buy what you’re selling?

Launching something new might mean that you don’t have all the answers, perhaps though you could start by asking yourself some simple questions?

1. How is this idea different and better than what already exists?

2. What shortcut does it offer? A miracle, pleasure, money, fun, safety, social success or something else?

3. What does one person say to another when they recommend it?

4. Does it appeal to logic or to the senses?

5. Who is it aimed at?

6. Why will people want this thing, book, website or service?

7. Can I tell a story that nobody else can tell?

9. Will this change how people feel about what already exists?

10. Will it make someone laugh? Will it make them cry?

11. Can it be implemented on a tiny scale for little or no money?

12. How will I know when it’s working? What’s my metric for success?

Even if you don’t have all the answers you can still ask yourself the right questions?

Image by Simon Elgood.

Finding Ideas That Spread

You have ideas every day. Some are great, others are truly awful. So how do you work out which ideas deserve to be executed or which ones have a chance to succeed?

It begins by understanding that the people you are trying to reach have an established ‘worldview‘, their own unique framework of ideas and beliefs through which they interpret and interact with the world.

That means there are some people you can’t and never will reach. They have already made up their minds long before you get there. You won’t convince the guy who buys a box of 200 own brand tea bags to spend $10 a pop on your calming herbal tisanes.

Spreading an idea doesn’t simply depend on finding a new and different “worldview’ either. What it does depend on is how the idea is framed and your ability to tell the story with your packaging, website, book, Facebook page and so on. Most ideas that spread tell a true story, from a different angle that not everyone will pay attention to. I know that feels counter intuitive in a world where we measure everything by volume. Our logic tells us to cast the net as wide as possible. Companies like Apple don’t market using logic and neither should you.

Let’s say you want to enter the bottled drinks market. You understand that you’re probably not going to capture the hearts and minds of avid Red Bull fans, that slot is taken. Maybe you start noticing how a lot of your friends are anti-energy drinks and would never touch one. You’ve worked out the importance of looking at the edges and identify a ‘worldview’. Now you’re ready to design the story from a different angle. So you become The Relaxing Company. You tell the people who are ready to hear it a true story that they can believe, buy into and share. Your aim is not to capture the whole of the drinks market. It’s possible to be successful by just honing in on a tiny portion of it.

Here’s part of how Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda tells their story:

Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda is perfect for stressful situations, when you need to relax, but still need the ability to function.
Long Day. First Date. Road Rage. Job Interview. Deadbeat Boyfriends. Lousy Girlfriends. Long Trips. Public Speaking.
It’s the all-natural soft drink that delivers euphoric relaxation and focus to a stress-filled life.
Within minutes of drinking, a “calming” sensation can be felt throughout the body and mind.
Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda is perfect for stressful, nerve-wracking situations or when you just feel like sitting back and enjoying life.
Made from herbal extracts, carbonated water, and all-natural cane sugar, it’s good for your body and mind.

The Relaxing Company are successfully spreading their idea because they discovered an ‘unfulfilled worldview’ and built something around it. You could spread your idea this way too by:

1. Identifying a worldview.
2. Designing the story from a different angle
3. Fulfilling the emotional wants not simple needs of your audience.

Before Little Miss Matched socks were sold in pairs. And before Twitter the news broke on TV. There are almost 7 billion people on the planet. All of the worldviews are not taken.

You just need a great idea!

Image by Andrew Hudson-Smith.