Unlock the Magic in Your Story Now

Get the Free 20 questions to Ask Before Launching Your Idea workbook when you sign up for occasional updates.

Get the Free 20 questions to Ask Before Launching Your Idea workbook when you sign up for occasional updates.

Articles filed in: News

Trusted Over Time

We often hear it said that it’s hard to stand out in an increasingly competitive world.

Maybe you can’t be the biggest, fastest or cheapest in your field. But there are plenty of ways to differentiate and make a mark. First among them is by being trusted over time.

Make promises you intend to keep. Keep them.

Image by Zdeněk Macháček

Why Do Customers Choose You?

What are the top three reasons customers choose you? What story are you giving those customers to tell—not just to recommend you, but to trust and value, prefer and remain loyal to you or your company?

You can make assumptions and best guesses about what’s motivating the people you serve, or you can ask for reasons they will happily share. The stories your customers tell themselves are part of the story you need to tell.

Image by Garry Knight

The Key To The Perfect Story

In a world where information and ideas can be shared in likes, swipes and clicks, we have never had a better opportunity to make our stories more visible. With so much for people to pay attention to, we have also never stood a better chance of being ignored. And that paradox sets us off on a quest to craft the perfect story—the one that resonates with the most people.

All stories have a beginning a middle and end. There is an inciting incident, conflict and resolution, a hero and a guide, failure and success. But unlike on the screens of Hollywood or in the pages of bestselling fiction, there is no ideal structure for crafting the perfect brand story because there is no single algorithm for touching the human heart.

The important thing isn’t the mechanics of the narrative or brilliance of the creative—the intention behind them is key to resonating with the people we hope to serve. Our quest to tell the right story stops us telling the real story. The key is to start with the truth about why we believed in what we do enough to begin and why we care about solving this unmet need for that particular person. It turns out that getting to the heart of the truth works better than finding an angle.

Image by Luigi Tiriticco

The Incremental Advantage

Despite what we know about how distracted our customers can be and how endless their choices are, when it comes to our messaging and marketing, we often overestimate our ability to cut through. You only have to spend five minutes watching someone scrolling through a feed on their smartphone (try it), or see how the guy reading a newspaper at your local cafe bypasses most of the content to get to the parts that interest him, for the reality we’re facing to sink in.

Instead of framing this as a challenge see it as an opportunity. Great innovators, committed business owners and unselfish marketers can thrive by planning to engage more deeply with their audience over time. The promise of the digital marketing era was that it would be faster and cheaper to reach more people. That promise didn’t guarantee deeper engagement, loyalty and more sales.

Now more than ever, even in a fast-paced digital world there is no time for marketing emergencies. We still make progress in increments.

Image by Jeroen Looyé.

What Successful Marketers Do

The restauranteur wants people to feel at home when they dine at his cafe. He furnishes it with a communal table filled with jars of decadent preserves. Diners help themselves to as much as they want without having to ask the wait staff for more.

The technology company wants to make women feel more at ease when they’re buying big ticket electrical items. They understand smells affect consumer behaviour, so orange and vanilla scent is diffused throughout their stores.

The fitness brand knows people are more likely to exercise when it feels less like work. They create an immersive group experience that makes exercising more pleasurable and fun, so members return more often.

Successful marketers act with intention. They deliberately connect strategy and tactics to the outcomes they, and more importantly, their customers, want to achieve. They begin with the end in mind and work backwards.

We have to change how people feel before we can hope to change what they do. We often try to skip this step. It takes courage and time to deliberately connect your brand story to a well thought through strategy—but it’s worth the effort. What end do you have in mind?

Image by Enrique Céspedes

The Power Of Story To Find Value

As business leaders, entrepreneurs and marketers we’re used to leveraging the power of story to describe value. We mostly use stories as a tool for telling. Because we believe the way to succeed is to be more vocal and visible, we create campaigns, sales letters, videos and press releases. We craft headlines, posts and tweets in an attempt to create awareness.

All the while we’re missing opportunities to use stories to make us more aware, to notice and to listen out for what the world is waiting for or wants from us. Yes, it’s possible to use a story to portray us as the hero, but it’s also a powerful tool for finding out how to be one. By harnessing story in a counter-intuitive way to listen rather than trying to be heard, we discover what’s missing. We suddenly see how we can create value and find opportunities to succeed by serving in ways others have overlooked. This is how a groundbreaking hospitality company was born, not by building more hotel rooms, but by creating a greater sense of belonging, and why a book about tidying up has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for 109 weeks.

The amount of noise in the world, the data and cues we’re meant to pay attention to can feel like navigating a strange city in a blizzard. But when we allow ourselves to stop for a second to get our bearings we often find the right path. Just as in the stillness that follows a storm, the snow settles on branches and surfaces, reflecting light, bringing everything into sharp relief and revealing details we just hadn’t seen before.

Image by Linh Nguyen.