Categories
Books

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

  1. The more simple and predictable the communication, the easier it is for the brain to digest. So what’s your message? Can you say it easily? Is it simple, relevant, and repeatable? Can your entire team repeat your company’s message in such a way that it is compelling? Have new hires been given talking points they can use to describe what the company offers and why every potential customer should buy it?
  2. Mistakes
    1. The first mistake brands make is they fail to focus on the aspects of their offer that will help people survive and thrive. All great stories are about survival—either physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual. A story about anything else won’t work to captivate an audience. Nobody’s interested.
    2. The second mistake brands make is they cause their customers to burn too many calories in an effort to understand their offer.
    3. The key is to make your company’s message about something that helps the customer survive and to do so in such a way that they can understand it without burning too many calories.
    4. People don’t buy the best products; they buy the products they can understand the fastest.
    5. A critical mistake many organizations make in defining something their customers want is they don’t pare down that desire to a single focus. At the highest level, the most important challenge for business leaders is to define something simple and relevant to their customer’s wants and to become known for delivering on that promise. – Conserving time, Building social networks, offering increased productivity, increased revenue, or decreased waste, and the desire for meaning.
  3. The Story
    1. Here is nearly every story you see or hear in a nutshell: A CHARACTER who wants something encounters a PROBLEM before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE steps into their lives, gives them a PLAN, and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. That action helps them avoid FAILURE and ends in a SUCCESS.
    2. A customer should be able to answer these questions within five seconds of looking at our website or marketing material: 
      1. What do you offer?
      2. How will it make my life better?
      3. What do I need to do to buy it?
  4. The 7 Principles
    1. The customer is the hero, not your brand
      1. Who does our customer want to become? What kind of person do they want to be? What is their aspirational identity?
      2. The best way to identify an aspirational identity that our customers may be attracted to is to consider how they want their friends to talk about them. Think about it. When others talk about you, what do you want them to say? How we answer that question reveals who it is we’d like to be.
    2. Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems (and philosophical ones)
      1. Human beings are looking for resolutions to their external, internal, and philosophical problems, and they can achieve this through, among other things, status, self-realization, self-acceptance, and transcendence. If our products can help people achieve these things, we should make this a core aspect of our brand promise.
    3. Customers aren’t looking for another hero, they’re looking for a guide
      1. The two things a brand must communicate to position themselves as the guide are Empathy and authority
        1. Testimonials, statistics, awards, logos
    4. Customers trust a guide who has a plan
      1. Plans can take many shapes and forms, but all effective plans do one of two things: they either clarify how somebody can do business with us, or they remove the sense of risk somebody might have if they’re considering investing in our products or services. Remember the mantra “If you confuse, you lose”? Not having a plan is a guaranteed way to confuse your customers.
      2. A process plan can describe the steps a customer needs to take to buy our product, or the steps the customer needs to take to use our product after they buy it, or a mixture of both.
    5. Customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action
      1. What steps do they need to take to do business with you? Spell out those steps, and it’ll be as though you’ve paved a sidewalk through a field.
    6. Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending
      1. Stories live and die on a single question: What’s at stake? If nothing can be gained or lost, nobody cares.
      2. Brands that help customers avoid some kind of negativity in life (and let their customers know what that negativity is) engage customers for the same reason good stories captivate an audience: they define what’s at stake.
    7. Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them!
  5. The 5 things your website should include
    1. An offer above the fold – we’ll make you a pro in the kitchen. Join now!
      1. The idea here is that customers need to know what’s in it for them right when they read the text. The text should be bold and the statement should be short. It should be easy to read and not buried under buttons and clutter. I recently went to the website for Squarespace and it simply said, “We Help You Make Beautiful Websites.” Perfect.
      2. Aspirational identiy, promise to solve a problem, state exactly what you do
    2. Obvious Calls to Action
      1. There are two main places we want to place a direct call to action. The first is at the top right of our website and the second is in the center of the screen, above the fold.
    3. Images of Success
      1. We believe images of smiling, happy people who have had a pleasurable experience (closed an open story loop) by engaging your brand should be featured on your website.
    4. A Bite-Sized Breakdown of Your Revenue Streams
    5. Very Few Words
  6. 5 (almost free) things you can do to grow your business
    1. Create a one-liner
      1. 1.  The Character        2.  The Problem        3.  The Plan        4.  The Success
      2. The Character: Moms         •  The Problem: Busy schedules         •  The Plan: Short, meaningful workouts         •  The Success: Health and renewed energy         •  “We provide busy moms with a short, meaningful workout they can use to stay healthy and have renewed energy.”
    2. Create a Lead Generator and Collect E-mail Addresses. You need a lead generator. You need a PDF, e-course, video series, webinar, live event, or just about anything else that will allow you to collect e-mail addresses.
      1. In order to combat noise in today’s marketplace, your lead generator must do two things:        1.  Provide enormous value for your customer        2.  Establish you as an authority in your field
      2. Downloadable Guide, Online Course or Webinar, Software Demos or a Free Trial, Free Samples, Live Events
      3. If you’re going to create a downloadable PDF, keep it to about three pages of content. Stuff as much value as you can into those three pages so your prospects will see you as the “go-to” guide.
      4. Make sure you feature your lead generator liberally on your website. I recommend creating a pop-up feature on your site that, after ten seconds or so of the browser arriving, offers your resource to the user. Though people complain about pop-ups, the stats are clear: they readily outperform nearly every other type of Internet advertising.
    3. Create an Automated E-Mail Drip Campaign.
      1. While there are many kinds of automated e-mail campaigns, the one we recommend starting with is the nurturing campaign. A nurturing campaign is a simple, regular e-mail that offers your subscribers valuable information as it relates to your products or services. Not unlike our lead generator, we want these e-mails to continue positioning us as the guide and to create a bond of trust and reciprocity with potential customers. There will come a time to ask for a sale, but this isn’t the primary goal of a nurturing campaign. A typical nurturing campaign may have an e-mail going out once each week, and the order might look like this: E-mail #1: Nurturing e-mail E-mail #2: Nurturing e-mail E-mail #3: Nurturing e-mail E-mail #4: Sales e-mail with a call to action
      2. The Nurturing E-mail A good way to craft each nurturing e-mail is to use an effective formula that offers simple, helpful advice to a customer. I’ve been using this formula for years and customers love it.        1.  Talk about a problem.        2.  Explain a plan to solve the problem.        3.  Describe how life can look for the reader once the problem is solved.
    4. Collect and Tell Stories of Transformation. Almost every story is about the transformation of the hero, and when we tell stories about how we’ve helped our customers transform, potential customers immediately understand what your brand can offer them.
      1. Here are five questions most likely to generate the best response for a customer testimonial:        1.  What was the problem you were having before you discovered our product?        2.  What did the frustration feel like as you tried to solve that problem?        3.  What was different about our product?        4.  Take us to the moment when you realized our product was actually working to solve your problem.        5.  Tell us what life looks like now that your problem is solved or being solved.
    5. Create a System That Generates Referrals. Once you create a system that funnels potential customers into becoming actual customers, your work is not quite done. The final step is to turn around and invite happy customers to become evangelists for your brand. This will only happen if we create a system that invites and incentivizes them to spread the word.
      1. Identify your existing, ideal customers and give them a reason to spread the word (offer a reward, 100% refund for 3 new referrals within a quarter, invite-a-friend coupons)
Categories
Books

Hacking the Unconscious by Rory Sutherland

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Summary

  1. The author discusses some legendary marketing events and how to think about why they were successful

Key Takeaways

  1. What are the product’s higher order benefits? tap into that in an aspirational way. Coke is just a drink but it can help build bonds and strong bonds can prevent war. This might only be available to the global leader. Coke can do this, RC Cola, maybe not
  2. The allure of altruism – those who do public demonstrations of helping others actually end up donating less or doing less than those who help quietly
  3. Campaigning for real women – the first rule of advertising is to get the audience’s attention and generally nothing does that better than sex. Dove overturned this with their real beauty campaign. They were real and vulnerable and it worked. Give people permission to be themselves
  4. Diamonds and the peacocks tail – signaling theory is everywhere and it is a supremely useful lens to view the world. Organisms are a marketing machine for their genes. When you see life as a series of signals, a whole bunch of things that didn’t make sense of a sudden do. Who is advertising what to whom?
  5. From ads to art – breaking the rules creates the best art and the best ads (Guinness the best things come to those who wait)
  6. Selling a philosophy – Nike’s now famous slogan – just do it – helped them move from an aspirational company to an inspirational company. The words were never spoken so it is up to the watcher to interpret it as a command a statement or whatever else speaks to them. Nike is selling their philosophy that they can do anything
  7. Designated driver – giving something a name, makes it feel more legitimate and real. Those who didn’t drink were party poopers before, but now they’re designated drivers which is a perfectly acceptable reason to not drink
  8. Marketing is so love / hate because it holds up a mirror to who we truly are. It works because it taps into things deep in our nature, whether we like it or not
  9. People are incredible at self deception. Don’t underestimate this ability
  10. If you’re given a budget for one car you’re choose a very boring and conventional car that isn’t too fast or too big or too small. However if you’re given a budget for two cars your criteria totally changed. You may choose one big SUV and one more fun car or a normal car and a moped. The same could be happening with diversity efforts where the safe and boring candidate is most often chosen
  11. Market research get people to say what they think they want you to say and this leads us astray. The logical and rational will not help us innovate. We need the absurd sounding and crazy people to take risks
  12. Showing investment in effort is as important as the product or service itself. Think of the knowledge test London cabbies have to take or the whole engagement and marriage process. Value derived from commitment. However, commitment signaling must be swept under the rug or all else goes haywire. Be aware of then, but don’t verbalize or expose them 

What I got out of it

  1. So fascinating to hear Sutherland talk about some of the all-time great ads and some of the psychology behind what made them successful. Selling a philosophy, understanding signaling and self-deception, investment in effort will stand out to me
Categories
Books

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Summary

  1. Ries and Trout’s seminal book on marketing

Key Takeaways

  • Law of leadership – Better to be first than it is to be better. Create a category you can be first in 
  • Law of the category – if you can’t be first in your category, create a new one you can be first in. Forget about brands, focus on the category 
  • Law of the mind – better to be first in people’s minds than first in the marketplace. Changing people’s minds is nearly impossible – you have to blast into people’s minds rather than trying to slowly change it over time 
  • Law of perception – marketing not a battle of products, but a battle of perception 
  • Law of focus – the most powerful force in marketing is owning a word in a prospect’s mind. Come to dominate one word/attribute and people will give you the benefit of the doubt with others too. This word must be unique and others be willing to take the opposite stance (quality can’t be your word because nobody would take the opposite)
  • Law of Exclusivity – two companies cannot own the same word in a prospect’s mind. Mass marketing cannot change this. 
  • Law of the Ladder – There is a hierarchy in the mind that prospects use in making decisions. On each rung of this ladder is a brand name. Your marketing strategy should depend on how soon you got into the mind and consequently which rung of the ladder you occupy. Ok if number 2, but have to admit to it and use it to your advantage (Avis – we’re number 2 and we work harder because of it)
  • Law of Duality – in every market, it eventually becomes a 2-horse race, with about equal market share. Third place is a difficult place to be (called the trouble Sprint was in as the number 3 player)
  • Law of the Opposite – if you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader, leveraging their strength into a weakness
  • Law of Division – over time, a market will divide into 2 or more. Beware the folly that many business leaders fall into of thinking that categories are converging. Instead, address each emerging category with a new brand name 
  • Law of Perspective – marketing effects take place over an extended period of time. The long-term effects are often the opposite of the short-term. Discounts or sales help short-term but hurt in the long run as you are conditioning people to only buy when there’s a sale. Everyday low prices is a better strategy
  • Law of Line Extension – there’s an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of the brand. This is the most violated law in this book. Stay focused – when you try to be all things to all people, you inevitably wind up in trouble. Line extension usually involves taking the brand name of a successful and putting it on a new product you plan to introduce. Marketing is a battle of perception, not product. Less is more. If you want to be successful today, you have to narrow the focus in order to build a position in the prospect’s mind.
  • Law of Sacrifice – This law is the opposite of Law 12: You have to give up something in order to get something. There are 3 things to sacrifice: product line, target market and constant change. Generalists are generally weak, so narrow your focus. Your target market is not what you are marketing (Marlboro reds and cowboys actually targeted everyone). You also don’t need to change your position every year – keep doing what works
  • Law of Attributes – For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute. You don’t need to copy the leader and it’s often better to search for an opposite attribute that will allow you to play off against the leader. All attributes are not created equal and you must try and own the most important ones. You cannot predict the size of a new attribute’s share, so never laugh at one.
  • Law of Candor – candor is disarming, When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive. Every negative statement you make about yourself is instantly accepted as truth. Your negative must be widely perceived as a negative. You have to shift quickly to the positive. The purpose of candor isn’t to apologize. It is to set up a benefit that will convince your prospect.
  • Law of Singularity – Trying harder is not the secret of marketing success. History teaches that the only thing that works in marketing is the single, bold stroke – the unexpected. To find that singular idea of concept, marketing managers have to know what’s happening in the marketplace.
  • Law of Unpredictability – While you can’t predict the future, you can get a handle on trends, which is a way to take advantage of change. One way to cope with an unpredictable world is to build an enormous amount of flexibility into your organization. Good short-term planning is coming up with that angle or word that differentiates your product or company. Then you set up a coherent long-term marketing direction that builds a program to maximize that idea or angle. Not a long-term plan, but a long-term direction.
  • Law of Success – Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure. Objectivity is what is needed. Brilliant marketers have the ability to think like how a prospect thinks. They put themselves in the shoes of their customers
  • Law of Failure – Failure is to be expected and accepted. Too many companies try to fix things rather than drop things. Admit it and move on
  • Law of Hype – The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press. When things are going well, a company doesn’t need the hype. When you need the hype, it usually means you’re in trouble. Real revolutions in the industry don’t arrive at high noon with marching bands. They arrive unannounced in the middle of the night and sneak up on you.
  • Law of Acceleration – Successful programs are not build on fads, they are built on trends. A fad is like a wave in the ocean, and a trend is the tide. Like the wave, the fad is very visible but it goes up and down in a hurry. Like the tide, a trend is almost invisible, but very powerful over the long-term. Paradox: if you were faced with a rapidly rising business, with all the characteristics of a fad, the best thing you could do is to dampen the fad and stretch it out.
  • Law of Resources – First get the idea, then get the money to exploit it. Without adequate funding, an idea won’t get off the ground and you need money to stay top of mind

What I got out of it

  1. Quick read with a ton of takeaways – Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products or services; Create a category that you can be first in (and own that singular word); use leader’s strengths against them; avoid line extension (different brands for different categories)

Categories
Books

Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Summary:

  1. Wilson Bryan Key does a great job of opening the reader’s eyes to the often nefarious basis of omnipresent of marketing ads
Key Takeaways:
  1. Advertisements are very consciously and specifically designed to play into our subconscious. Everybody does it and its interesting to know some of the tools they use
  2. Sex sells. Its a famous saying for a reason
  3. Be aware of what or why an ad draws you in
  4. Really interesting how open and influenced our subconscious can be. Every image or ad is aimed towards your subconscious, not your conscious, when they’re trying to sell their products
  5. “Don’t tell a person what to do -that will cause resistance and hostility- rather tell them what or who they are and they will eat out of your hand”
  6. Never forget the con in confidence and sin in sincere
  7. Conscious and subconscious motivations lie behind every form of human communication
  8. The subconscious is often in direct opposition to what the conscious wants
  9. Primary motive for American media – control and maintain their audiences in order to keep or gain their advertising money
What I got out of it:
  1. I am now much more aware of the many tools and tricks ads can employ in order to gain your much sought after attention. A fascinating read and one I would definitely recommend if you are even just remotely interested in the subconscious and how it can be molded and influenced