Are you working in a so-called “dull industry” like insurance, software development, car servicing and the likes? If so, you’ll know it’s difficult to create marketing that is engaging.
These industries aren’t exactly high octane fuelled or sexy, but they are necessary for many individuals and businesses.
So how can you effectively market these services and stand out from the competition, so you’re not seen as another commodity provider?
It’s all about providing something that surprises and delights prospects and customers, over and above what they would normally expect from you.
This could include helping customers discover something that provides value for them. For example, a few years ago a friend of mine, who worked at a car service centre, told me I didn’t have to take my new car to the dealership to have it serviced, in order to maintain the warrantee, and that I could take it anywhere as long as the official parts were used. Now I didn’t know this was possible at the time, and I actually ended up using the company he worked at to do my next car service, at a big discount. However, I wondered why they didn’t make more of a song and dance about this situation in their marketing material.
So education is one way of surprising and delighting customers, giving them a free taster is another. If you’ve ever visited your local Costco, you’ll have probably seen them giving out free food tasters. This is great for introducing customers to something they haven’t tried before, and everyone loves to get free stuff. You can also do this remotely, through free trials (great for software) or posting out free samples (merchandisers used to do this quite often).
You can also help prospective customers reframe their perceptions of a service, product, or industry, by offering it differently. For example, maybe provide life insurance that pays back a bonus if not used within a given timeframe. This would shift the perception of life insurance as being a necessary cost, which doesn’t provide any direct benefit to the person paying for the policy, into something that could be considered an investment.
The point is to try to look at your business offerings and figure out ways of giving your customers something that is relevant which will surprise and delight them.
People are curious and like to learn and experience “different” and “new”. Do this on a regular basis and do it well. Delight them and they will more likely come back again and again.
If you’ve ever watched a political debate between a Liberal and a Conservative, you’ll know there isn’t much love lost between them.
You can see this in the US where the Democrats and Republicans tear chunks out of one another.
It is also evident here in the UK, between the Conservative and Labour parties.
The conflict rages between politicians on political stages and programmes, as well as between supporters on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
These interactions are littered with point scoring and one-upmanship; the highlighting of examples of the other side’s failings, taken from a very narrow, self-serving perspective, designed to prove their point of view and enhance their own argument.
Here’s an example to illustrate the point…
Just a quick reference to the backstory for this example.
Leigh is an old mining town, which is located between Manchester and Liverpool
Leigh has always had a Labour MP, it was considered a Labour safe seat due to its historical mining and working class roots.
Recently a Conservative won the seat for the very first time, to the dismay of many of the labour supporting locals.
The local Tory MP voted to end school meal subsidies during the lastest half term holiday, something that went against footballer Marcus Rashford’s public campaign to make funds available for the most needy.
Many of the local people, particularly labour voters were in uproar on social media about The Tory MP’s vote.
Many of the posts on local Facebook groups raged about the nasty Tory, who was typically displaying a lack of empathy for children in need.
This directly plays into the long standing narrative that Conservatives don’t care for working class people, only for their posh, rich buddies who run businesses, and hold wealth and power.
A critical thinker would probably ask why a Conservative MP would take such a stand, knowing that many of his constituents would be up in arms about it.
Subsequently the MP’s decision for voting as he did was found to be because of funding constraints and the fact that other more targeted provisions had been made through local authorities and welfare payments to look after children and families in hardship. The Tory government had extended free school meals during the Easter holidays and again for the Summer holidays after pressure from Rachford’s campaign, but decided to draw the line for half-term holidays. This is against a background of needing to borrow £372bn to cover spending, in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, to date, according to the Office of Budget Responsibility.
The arguments on social media seemed to play out like this;
Labour- Tory’s being cruel to kids
Conservatives – not bottomless money pit, parents shouldn’t have kids if they can’t afford to pay for them
Labour- loss of jobs caused by covid19 and government handling of it to blame, not those parents who are struggling
Conservative – government have done the best they can in such brutal unforeseen circumstances. They have given massive support to people during the pandemic.
Labour- point out all the failings and wasted spending on track and trace etc, and point out the government could have done even more. Many stating Labour would have done better (no way of knowing this)
Conservatives – don’t think Labour would have done any better and may have done much worse under a Jeremy Corbyn led government (no way of knowing this)
Descends into insults and slanging matches
I don’t want to get into the rights and wrongs of this argument, I just want to use it to illustrate how the opposing views can play out.
The two sides are often talking past one another, with no point of connection.
I’ve tried to play devil’s advocate with both sides and a reasoned debate is just not possible most of the time. Exchanges nearly always descend into argument and name calling. This is also evident whenever you see politicians and/or supporters come together.
This isn’t anything new either, back in a 1968 debate between conservative thinker William F. Buckley Jr and liberal writer Gore Vidal, members of opposing intellectual elites, who had hoped to have a civilised political discussion, soon descended into name-calling and resulted in them suing each other for defamation.
The reason for such differences in opinion is because of the underlying belief systems each of the sides holds.
Conservatives and Liberals think completely differently. They perceive differently and interpret information and news differently.
When you consider that such differences have, throughout history, resulted in many thousands, even millions of deaths, you may and indeed should have cause for concern. If you think such comments are overblown, read a few political history books and see for yourself.
Liberals to the Left
Liberals lean towards the socialist side of the political spectrum. Both the Labour party, here in UK, and the Democrats in the US are positioned on the left. The further left a person is, the more they value big government running key services like education, health (NHS in UK), water, energy, transport, infrastructure building etc.
The government is the expected to redistribute wealth through taxes, taking from the more well-off members of society and giving to the disadvantaged and vulnerable in an attempt to even things up.
The narrative that plays out on the left revolves around preventing the oppressing capitalists exploiting workers. Workers being the ones who create the value within industry, but who often don’t share in the financial rewards as the capitalists do, because they don’t own the means of production.
Liberals also feel passionate about reducing inequality and creating a fairer society for all.
Far left political movements such as communism have proven to be very problematic in the past becoming politically corrupt and leading to most failing spectacularly.
Let me be clear, the majority of liberals are not on the far left of the political spectrum.
Conservatives to the right
The Conservatives types tend to value personal responsibility over socialist ideas. They have a “get what you work for” attitude.
Conservatives believe that if everyone is incentivised to work harder, then everyone benefits. They want to support those who have fallen on hard times for no fault of their own, but don’t like lazy people taking a free ride.
They like the idea of functioning free markets, with less government intervention and regulation, where value drives supply and demand. This is why Conservatives prefer the privatisation of the provision of energy supply, water, transport, postal services, and infrastructure, rather than the government providing them.
Far right people profess to be more patriotic, and believe in the government prioritising its own citizens, before helping other countries. The majority of conservatives are not on the far right of the political spectrum.
You may be asking yourself at this point, where conservative and liberal values and beliefs come from. Why do some people lean towards one end of the spectrum rather than the other?
The big 5 personality test is considered the most accurate way of identifying personality and is used widely in psychology fields. It’s made up of 5 parameters, which lie on a continuum, with one extreme trait at one end, and the opposite trait at the other end. For instance, extraversion and introversion. Individuals will have traits that appear somewhere along each continuum.
The big 5 personality traits
Extraversion > introversion
Neuroticism > emotionally stable
Agreeableness > disagreeableness
Conscientiousness > disorganised
Openness to experience > closed mindedness
Research indicates that traits are 50% biologically determined, and 50% influenced by social conditioning and upbringing.
It has been well documented in political psychology that conservative types tend to be high in conscientiousness and low in openness and liberals tend to be high in openness and low in conscientiousness.
Those high in conscientiousness
Value order over disorder, so tend to be well organised
Value getting on in the world, so are productive and organised towards a goal
Safety and predictability is important – don’t welcome surprises
Opposite if low in conscientiousness
Those high in openness to experience
Value novelty, so like new things, and are innovative
Value beauty and art, so are creative and artistic
Value new and engaging experiences
Like to travel and sample new places
Opposite if low in openness
Prefer bounded spaces, so like borders and walls, so they can feel safe in their safe space
Prefer order over chaos
Prefer to make and follow procedures and processes, so they know what needs doing and can be consistent in action and outcomes
Prefer to do the things the way they have always done them
Don’t want to be constrained by borders and walls, they want to be free and unrestricted
Prefer chaos over boring and predictable order. Routine is not their thing.
Prefer to wing it, and make things up on the fly over sitting down and making a plan
Prefer open borders, safety is paranoid
Prefer to try new things, change things up
It is easy to see how these personality traits can influence political inclinations. It also highlights the difficulty of bringing the two opposing viewpoints together.
Our tendencies are largely built into our genes. It’s not easy to change who we are and what we believe.
Social conditioning is also hugely influential in what we believe and value. Social conditioning is made up of what our family and those we grow up with teach us and the stories we tell ourselves about our experiences.
Although education can improve knowledge around a particular subject or topic, it’s the core beliefs that influence the stories and narratives we emotionally invest in.
Very educated people can have completely opposing viewpoints. They know the issues in play, but choose to interpret them completely differently.
You may well ask yourself why this is?
People invest themselves, emotionally, into their core beliefs and values and often refuse to compromise on them. If you believe you’re right about something, why would you entertain changing that belief? You’re right and the other side is wrong. It’s easy to think the other side is foolish or ignorant and this comes more easily than questioning our own beliefs, but probability would suggest “they” can’t all be idiots.
The big danger in employing this approach is the risk of falling into the confirmation trap, where we look for evidence to support our beliefs and values and dismiss or ignore conflicting evidence. This is often referred to as “confirmation bias”.
Learn to apply critical thinking in such situations. Question why so many intelligent opponents think the way they do. Be curious. Listen without judgement and try to figure what is going on.
You have to be willing to let go of old beliefs in order to make room for new ones. You have to be willing to admit you were wrong so you can start being right.
Most people fall in between the polarised political positions we have discussed here. They want a fair society that works for all, that catches those who are vulnerable and in genuine need of help. People differ in how they feel this is best achieved. Make no mistake, there are also some people who are pathological; they are more concerned with making society worse rather than better.
There are two sides to human nature.
Because we are social animals who live in a social environment, our best chance to survive or even better flourish, depends on us getting on with other people.
We play the roles we’re expected to play in different social situations; a mother, a daughter, a friend, a neighbour, a work colleague, a boss, a supplier, etc.
Each role requires us to be a different version of ourselves. If we play them well, others are comfortable around us because we are predictable.
If we do random things at random times, other people will undoubtedly feel anxious around us and are less likely to interact with us.
Imagine being in a restaurant with your spouse and halfway through your meal, you jump on the table and start to make a big commotion, kicking cutlery around the room. What kind of reaction do you think you’d get from your spouse, the other diners, and the restaurant management? Better still, imagine your spouse doing it to you. It would probably freak you out. Other diners would probably back off and be very negative in how they look at what you are doing. The police might be called, and you would certainly be thrown out by the owners of the restaurant.
You might not consciously realise you’re playing roles and behaving in a way that others in society find preferable and acceptable, but you are. If you do things you shouldn’t, you’re certain to get reactions from others around you, ranging from disapproving looks to arrest by the police, depending on the degree of your misconduct. As we grow up, we repeat things we are rewarded for, and stop doing thing we are punished for. This is how social conditioning works.
The other side of human nature is the dark side. This is the shadow side we avoid at all costs. It’s the side of each of us that, given the right circumstances, can make us into monsters, particularly when possessed by high levels of negative emotions such as hatred and vengefulness.
We look back in horror at things like the Nazi party’s genocide of millions of Jewish people and think this would never happen again. This occurred not because one man, Adolf Hitler was evil, but because many others played along with his mad plan, having dehumanised the Jews to such a degree they thought they deserved what they got. Germans blamed Jews for their own suffering and were sold on the story that the world would be better once the Jews had been removed. Hatred took over and resulted in men, women and children being brutally murdered.
We might prefer to think those who perpetrated such crimes were evil by nature, but many were not. They had become so consumed with hatred for an enemy they believed was bringing suffering to their own lives and those of their families and friends. Hitler played to the crowd but also fed off the crowd. It was a mutually supportive escalation of emotions that led up to the horrors that resulted in the second world war.
Having a dark side means we have to be able to control it. Virtue comes from controlling our darker impulses, not from not having them. If I am capable of being cruel or even killing another person and choose not to, then that is something of a virtue. We need to have aggression to be able to be assertive, to be competitive, otherwise others will walk all over us, but it has to be controlled aggression.
If we become tyrannical and bully others into doing what we want them to do, against their will, we will be unpopular and eventually someone will have enough of the tyranny and take us out, maybe it will take two of them to do it or three or four but eventually they will do it.
So cohesion is not a long-term solution for anyone who wants to get on in life, and have healthy relationships. Cooperation and competition is required if people are going to keep wanting to interact with you in a mutually beneficial way.
How society works
Society works by encouraging the people who live in that society to work together for the greater good of all.
Each person brings something of value to the table that others want and are willing to pay for, and an exchange of value is carried out, usually in the form of money for a service or product.
Some are better at producing this value than others. Meritocracy results in those who are better at producing value, rising to the top of a hierarchical structure (triangle shaped structure).
Those at the top earn the most money in our current system. They are incentivised to provide more value in order to get more monetary reward.
Some on the left of politics would say they exploit employees by making more money from the value they generate then they have to pay out to those employees who actually create that value. Some on the right of politics would counter that everyone, given the right skillset, can do the same, so if you don’t want to be exploited, don’t be an employee, instead be a business owner/entrepreneur.
Anyway, those that are particularly good at managing this value exchange earn more money, and rise up to the top of the value hierarchy. If they are fair, not too greedy and look after their employees (those employees get paid more), everyone is better off from the arrangement.
If equality of opportunities is fair, then everyone has a chance of joining in and the value hierarchy is effective at allowing society to function reasonably well. What happens over time is those at the top of the value hierarchy defend their dominant position by stifling competition and use their power and wealth to game the system to their advantage. The hierarchy then becomes more of a dominance hierarchy rather than a value hierarchy and eventually turns tyrannical. All value hierarchies’ become tyrannical if left unchecked.
Both liberals and conservatives have functions to perform in keeping value hierarchies honest and preventing them from turning tyrannical. Liberals are good at coming up with ideas for solutions that bring value and solve problems. Conservatives are good at following through on these ideas, building and maintaining hierarchies around these solutions. Liberals are good at calling out hierarchies that are becoming tyrannical, holding them to account and protecting those disaffected at the bottom of them.
We need conservatives to …
To make ideas reality
To organise and grow businesses – the structures, processes and procedures that make up efficient systems
But we equally need liberals to…
Come up with innovative solutions to problems
To be creative and help make and sell products/services – the creative of marketing
To hold value hierarchies to account – stop them becoming tyrannical
You can see that we need both liberal and conservative types to keep society functioning effectively. We should value both sides of the argument as crucially necessary. We should guard against any one side gaining the upper hand, because society will not function nearly as well, and the consequences could literally be nightmarish.
So next time you feel frustrated at the other side’s lack of cooperation or understanding, realise society works because each side is pushing from opposite points of view and within that tension society is kept in balance.
We discussed in a previous post, the importance of capturing attention when carrying out marketing activities. To summarise what we covered in that post…
Marketing only works if you can first capture your prospect’s attention, otherwise all your other marketing efforts go to waste. Capturing your prospect’s attention is the combination of standing out from the crowd and providing something of value in the pursuit of one of their goals.
So that’s where we’ll pick things up.
Having won ourselves a few seconds of precious attention, nothing more, we must make the best of the time we’ve got. The question is, how can we maximise the opportunity?
Provide something valuable
We must ensure our sales patter is interesting, in that it provides some value that the prospect wants or needs in their journey towards the attainment of one or more of their goals.
A goal could be something big, like building their own business or making the next big phone app, or something small like having a clean car, or a new set of pots and pans to cook with.
There are a couple of ways to help them move towards their goals. The first is to show them your solution and explain the benefits and features of what you offer. If they are currently in the market for it, then as long as the price is right, the value is communicated, and they have enough trust in your ability to deliver on your promise, you’ll have a decent chance of them buying. Having said that, most prospects will be wary of committing straight away, without having previously built up some trust in you, your company or brand. This is particularly true if they have never heard of you before.
There are several ways to building trust quickly. The first is to appear professional in the way you present yourself, your brand or business. You do this through your communication; such as signage, website, social media presence and literature.
The second way is to have a physical location (premises) which prospects can visit and check out. This gives the perception that you are rather more stable and dependable than if you were solely a web-based business. We’ve all experienced problems with internet only businesses who can’t be contacted easily when things go wrong.
Finally, one of the best ways of building trust quickly, particularly with regards to new prospects, is to have plenty of good, genuine customer reviews or testimonials, preferably stretching back over several years. This helps with the perception that you’ve been around a while. Good search engine rankings also help to demonstrate longevity, because they are difficult to circumvent.
Make it easy
Having minimal friction in your buying process will also give you more chance of getting a sale. The fewer hoops prospects have to jump through to buy from you, the better. This is why Amazon’s one click shopping option is so popular.
I did say there were two ways to help move prospects towards their goal, we’ve covered what to do with those looking to buy straight away, but what about those that aren’t ready yet, but who may be in the next 30 or 60 days or so.
You can focus on building your brand with these prospects, by providing free extra value in some way. If you sell pots and pans, you may offer some great recipes that make use of those pots and pans. If you’re a car valet, you may provide free branded car air fresheners, or some tips and tricks to remove stains and spills from car upholstery.
What you’re trying to do, when giving out gifts, advice, tips and tricks, is build a relationship with prospects, so they get to know, like and trust you, so that when they are ready to buy, you are in the frame to make the sale. The things you do to provide the extra value must support your core offering, the thing you’re trying to sell to them, otherwise it won’t make any sense.
With that in mind, it’s better to keep adding value over time, rather than just doing it as a one off. By keeping your brand in the forefront of your prospects’ minds you will improve your chances of getting the sale when the time comes for them to buy.
Once you’ve captured your prospect’s attention, you have to provide something of value for them. You can do this through the benefits and features of your offering.
If prospects are ready to buy straight away, make sure your sales process is as frictionless as possible.
If they aren’t ready to buy just yet, either because they don’t want your solution right now, or they don’t trust you enough; work on building your brand with them, by providing free extra value. Keep adding value until they are ready to buy.
Marketing requires you to first capture the attention of your prospects. If you’re unable to do so, you have no way of sharing your marketing message with them, and all your marketing efforts will go to waste.
Prospects are continually bombarded with information, as indeed we all are. To cope with the shear volume of incoming stimuli, choices are made, often on a subconscious level. We as humans tend to pay attention to things that are relevant to some kind of goal or pursuit we are trying to move towards. Everything else is ignored or filtered out from our conscious awareness, and may not even register with us.
To illustrate this point, check out this video.
Hopefully you now appreciate the fact that attention is limited, and goal focused. You ignored the gorilla because your attention was busy focusing on counting the passes of the ball. The goal required you to keep your eye on just the ball and ignore everything else that didn’t contribute to that.
Marketing to a captive audience
You might think it would be easier to market to a captive audience. For example let’s say you are advertising on the TV or on the radio or even in the pre-roll of a YouTube video. Your audience is already watching or listening, so they can’t escape your advert.
But ask yourself, when was the last time you really paid attention to the adverts in such situations. You either reach for your phone, to see what notifications you’ve missed, or you tune out, while thinking about something else.
Marketing on a busy platform
If your advertising on a busy platform, say social media, then engagement is much harder to achieve. You are then competing with everything else that can steal your prospect’s attention away. Let’s consider the example of running an advert on their Facebook feed.
Your marketing message will compete with status updates from your prospect’s friends and family. As well as engaging entertainment posts related to their interests. So you need to stop them scrolling past your advert, by appealing to their interests and/or goals.
Searching or not
Imagine you’re a florist, and Valentines day is just around the corner. You know that people are likely to be in the market for buying flowers, so presenting them with a unique offer, is probably going to get them to stop for a moment to check your advert out. If there is no special occasion imminent, then creating an excuse for them to surprise their partner may be required.
The fact that they are not actively searching for something to buy, makes the sale a little more difficult. They will probably just scroll straight past your advert, without giving it a second thought. So you may have to rely on eye-catching imagery to get them to stop and see what’s on show.
High quality images are more attention-getting than static text, and video is often more engaging than images. You must find a way of standing out from the other content, to catch their eye.
We humans take notice of changes and differences. It’s hard-wired into us, at an instinctive, self-preservation level. If our ancestor didn’t pay attention to changes in their surroundings, it could have resulted in them being eaten by a predator. Our subconscious picks up on such things before we’re even consciously aware of it. And although we’re unlikely to be eaten when scrolling through our Facebook feed, our instinct still reacts as if we might.
So make sure your marketing message doesn’t blend in with all the other content. Make it stand out by contrasting in some noticeable way. Usually this needs to be done visually, because sound is often muted on social media. However, there is no one-fits-all solution available, only by testing alternatives can you see what works best for your particular situation.
So in summary, marketing only works if you can first capture your prospect’s attention, otherwise all your other marketing efforts go to waste. Capturing your prospect’s attention is the combination of standing out from the crowd and providing something of value in the pursuit of one of their goals.
Once you’ve captured your prospect’s attention, you need to deliver a message that pulls them in to your offering, so they’ll want to find out more about you and your solution.
Many conspiracy theories come out of the deep distrust of authority.
When people have the perception they’ve been lied to, and deceived, over and over again, it’s only natural that people becoming distrusting of the offending entity. It can be very difficult, if not impossible to build trust again.
This seems to be what’s happening with western governments and the media, at the moment.
All who side with the distrusted party are themselves distrusted and seen to be complicit in the lie. Even science seems to have fallen into this trap of late.
How do you get trust back? Can you? Are governments’ reputations damaged irreparably? Is the media reputation damaged irreparably? What about science?
I think science should take an independent stand, so as not to be seen as complicit in some government led deception.
Science should speak with one voice, not with dissenting, often conflicting viewpoints, that only act to muddy the waters. What is evidence based, and what is opinion? It’s important to address any contradictions, otherwise people won’t know what to believe.
I often see people on social media, calling others ‘sheeple’ as a derogatory term for those they perceive as being gullible for believing what government and associated science are saying. But not believing what the government or science is saying, is not an absence of belief, but rather a belief in some kind of conspiracy theory.
What reliable scientific evidence is there to support the belief in that conspiracy theory? Believing in some unfounded conspiracy theory, which runs counter to respected scientific evidence, could also be seen as an example of people acting like sheeple.
You can believe the widely accepted science, or you can believe often debunked anti-scientific opinion, but I know which one is probably more likely to be accurate.
It’s wise to be skeptical about what people tell you. It’s wise to be questioning. When someone tells you something ask them to prove it. It’s fine to use that principle when authority tells you something, but also question conspiracy theories, in the same way. Don’t reject one and then blindly embrace the other, that is just dumb.
When people don’t have reliable sources of information, they may become confused and hunker down into what they already believe. Better to seek out information from various sources. Read what the Political Right have to say, then read what the Political Left have to say about the same thing. The truth is likely to be somewhere in the middle of the two.
Science is usually a good starting point, spend time researching the latest knowledge on the topic. If you’ve not got the time, best to keep your opinions to yourself, rather than risk spreading misinformed misinformation, which doesn’t help anyone.
Follow the scientific advice unless you have definitive proof it’s a lie. Be even more skeptical of conspiracy theories. They spread because they are often sensational and fantastical. They ride on the back of the facts of the event or situation in a plausible way, but they are only a narrative interpretation.
Every intention and action can be interpreted negatively or positively if you so wish. The hero explorer is cast as the merciless invader, the protective government is seen as the oppressor, safety becomes confinement, a worried neighbor is seen as nosey.
Look for the facts and take the rest of the story with a pinch of salt.
To successfully sell on social media, online or anywhere else, for that matter, two things are required..
First, we have to get noticed. Think about it this way, what grabs you’re attention when you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed?
For adverts, that are designed to sell you something, it would usually have to provide something you want or need, a solution to a problem you have, presented in an eye-catching way.
Motion graphics will help you catch attention, and stop people scrolling past.
Call to action
The second thing required would be a clear “call to action”.
The call to action depends on what you want viewers to do after seeing your advert. The clearers and frictionless the process of carrying out that call to action is, the better.
When talking about “friction” we’re not just talking solely about the physical things we want them to do, such as click here, enter your email address or add to cart, but also what we’re asking of them psychologically.
If they fear getting spammed by marketing messages, giving us their email address is not going to be as easy as it otherwise might be.
So whatever we are asking of them, we must make it both physically and psychologically as frictionless as possible. Make it as quick-and-easy as possible (one click is the ideal), with the minimum of risk attached to it (money back guarantee, free taster etc).
Everything else you use in your advert is only required to support your call to action. Things like testimonials, engaging images and text should aim to support your message and improve trust and liking.
Branding is a very conceptual term. It can be hard to get your head around if you’re new to it. It holds almost mystical power.
My definition of branding is
“To emotionally connect, to prospects and customers, through meaningful storytelling.”
Branding helps shape customer’s BELIEFS.
It helps shape how customers think about you, and the meaning your brand holds for them. It can determine what they think you stand for and what they think your values are.
Branding will assist customers to feel they know like and trust you, and subsequently encourage them to want to support and buy from you.
Think about why you buy the brands you buy.
What car do you drive?
What footwear do you wear?
What make of TV do you watch?
What coffee do you drink?
What washing powder do you wash your clothes with?
Where do you shop for groceries?
Which pub, cinema, restaurant do you frequent?
What search engine do you use?
Where do you spend most of your social media time?
What make of lipstick, if any, do you buy?
The brand you used is heavily influenced by the story that brand uses to emotionally connect with you, and the story you subsequently carry around with you.
If a brand doesn’t have a story to share, then it becomes a commodity. Whether you buy it, or from it, depends on price, convenience, impulse, or just pure luck and circumstance. Prospects and customers probably won’t give your brand a second thought. They probably won’t remember you very well when you’re not around.
Customers may enjoy many aspects of your value proposition. Your great service, pleasant-natured sales assistant, great value for money. They may appreciate the fact you provide a great solution for their problem. They may remember your warm smile, witty banter, your comfortable chairs, your attention to detail, or whatever you do to make them feel good and valued.
What branding does is pull everything together into a coherent story. This makes remembering and identifying your brand easier, particularly when they are ready to buy again. This might be the difference between them coming back to you rather than going somewhere else.
Branding requires you to provide value through your sales proposition. You’re required to have a product or service that addresses your customer’s needs. Without this, no amount of branding is going to help you, over the long term.
You must show up regularly through advertising or content creation.
Try to add value between sales by building the perception of expertise. You can do this by providing tutorials or tricks and tips which relate to your offering. Try to build a relationship with prospects and customers alike, so they get to know like and trust you.
Congruency is vital. Everything you do should support the story you want to communicate to your market.
Consider how you look, via your website, social media channels, advertisements, signage, brochures, mail shots, vehicles, and in-store.
What you do is also vitally important. The extra value you add through your solution. Your customer service, even how you market your brand matters. Make sure all your activities and communications are driven by beliefs and values that are also important to your customer base.
Everything you do needs to fit together, to make sense, and support the story you’re telling.
Your brand should be distinctive, so you’re noticeable, and clearly identifiable from the competition.
Make a good first “impression”. You only get one chance, so make it count.
Maintain an excellent reputation. Trust takes time to build up and seconds to destroy.
Be a good tribe leader by taking a stand. Make sure you stand for something, don’t cop out by sitting on the fence. Focus on your customers and only them. It’s okay to say “we’re not for you” to everyone else.
Ultimately, help your customers tell their story by allowing them to piggy-back on your brand story. Help them identify with your brand, and bring it into their sense of self.
Branding is about creating a little bit of magic through story. It’s about inspiring them to imagine the possibilities of fulfilling their potential through your brand.
Politics is very emotive because “division” is an important aspect of the human Ego.
The Ego’s default inclination is to either..
Seek ATTACHMENT or
SEPARATION, particularly when we’re not psychologically awake to what is happening.
Let’s just take a second to review how Attachment works – it inflates (false) sense of self – if we psychologically “have” more, we “are” more.
Separation works by also inflating (false) sense of self – by separating, we make an “other”, and there is no greater “other” than an “enemy”. We criticise, complain about an “other”, implying we are superior in some way.
So politics is about attaching to a party that represents our beliefs, our desires and goals, while separating from parties that don’t connect with us.
Because these things are important to us, they come with great emotion.
We become tribalist behind the ideologies of one party at the expense of others.
But politics isn’t as black or white as politicians and the media would have us believe.
Mainstream media is a hugely influential force, when it comes to shaping public opinion.
But it’s important to understand that the media craves drama, discourse, division and headline-making news, in the most emotive way possible. It does so because these things attract and engage viewers, and in doing so, the media can make money from sponsors and advertisers and justifies its existence to stakeholders.
As the public, we need not take sides, or get dragged into the overblown drama of the media.
If you’re emotional about something, anything, there is an underlying attachment at the heart of that emotion. Check out the following story to illustrate what I mean.
Mike is watching the news, sees a program where keir Starmer criticises Boris johnson with regards to one of his policies; the details aren’t important for the purpose of this story.
This elicits a negative reaction by Mike, as if he were being personally, verbally attacked himself.
But why does he have this response?
Mike is attached to Boris Johnson in some way – not to him personally, because he’s not a big fan of him as a leader. Mike is attached to some of his policies. Mike likes what he believes Johnson is trying to “do for” the country
Mike believes Johnson is going to try and “reform government” – which is important to Mike.
Mike believes Johnson is going to invest in northern towns and cities – by redistribute wealth to poorer, undeveloped areas, as he promised.
Mike believe Johnson represents “something important to him”
Mike reacts to an attack on his attachment; what he believes Johnson stands for.
Mike doesn’t want Johnson’s “mission derailing”
Mike is really attached to what he believes…
Johnson stands for
Johnson will do for the country and for him personally
#1 – Reform government
#2 – Investment in northern towns and cities – redistribute wealth to poorer areas.
Mike is putting faith in the person rather than the system. He may not trust the system.
Does the Johnson have the power to deliver on his promises? Does Johnson have the will to do this? Does Mike trust Johnson’s intent, capabilities, trustworthiness.
Remember, we judge politicians on the basis of their…
Mikes beliefs, in this instance, are based on FAITH rather than certainty and habit.
So it is with all of us, when we’re trying to make decisions about future events or situations, we can’t know with any certainty that we’re doing the right thing. We may give a leader or party the benefit of the doubt, but faith is usually what our beliefs are founded on.
I guess we could vote a particular way based on habit; we voted for them last time, we’ll vote for them again, or family vote for a particular party, so we do the same.
We might decide not to vote at all.
After all is said and done, whether you’re engaged in politics or not, it affects every facet of everybody’s lives.
Whatever your political persuasion, it’s important to understand the roles that all the participants play; politicians, media and the public.
It’s equally important to see through the often overblown drama stirred up by the media. They are running a business with their own agenda. Drama pays the bills for these organisations.
It’s equally important to understand that competing political parties are maneuvering for political power. It is in their interests to disagree with one another, to find fault in one another for their own political gain.
However, there is a difference between point scoring and holding each other to account, which is an important part of the political process. We want government to be scrutinised and held-to-account by other parties and the media, for their promises and actions.
But understand the underlying motives and learn to read between the lines. Scrutiny is good, point scoring, and political maneuvering is bad and self-serving by the politicians.
We shouldn’t focus on taking sides, by falling behind one party or the other and attaching with a vice-like-grip to a political position or engage in party politics. What we need to do, as a society, is to hold all politicians to account. Utilise the best policies based on merit and the reality of human nature in reaction to those policies, rather than ideology alone. We need to ensure politicians deliver on promises with effective execution. Question whether the policies are doable, and the politicians capable, and we should base these judgements on merit, not ideology.
One of the building blocks to getting results is the “acquisition of knowledge”.
In philosophy, the study of knowledge is called Epistemology and the definition of knowledge most popular with Epistemologist, came from Plato who famously defined it as “True Belief with Logos (a reason)”, or “justified true belief”.
So now that we’ve defined what knowledge is, how do we acquire it?
More often than not, knowledge is acquired through the testimony of other people.
Generally we learn through the people we share our lives with. Those who have greatest influence on us growing up, are parents, siblings, friends, teachers, authority figure, who we look to and trust. More widely, we take knowledge from the media and science as reliable sources of knowledge. Although many people question the honesty of media these days.
There is knowledge about the fact of things. Things like the earth is round, things fall to the ground because of gravity, your name is [whatever your name is], your birth date is [whatever it is], you are male or female. We believe them and they are accurate, so we have knowledge, providing we haven’t been lied to about them.
There are also beliefs that come out of inference. Your parents might say to you “None of our family are rich, people like us just don’t get rich, so you’re not likely to get rich either”. The knowledge that “none of our family are rich”, might be accurate, but the inferences that “people like us don’t get rich, so you’re not likely to get rich either”, can’t be counted as knowledge, they are not fact, but they may well be believed. Many self-limiting beliefs are formed this way. We hold them as truth, we may count them as knowledge, but they are not, they are no truer than saying “none of our family are rich, but there is nothing stopping us getting rich, with education, effort and a sound plan of action, you can be as rich as you want to be.”
When we’re considering moving away from what we’re currently doing, to go somewhere else, or do something else, whether that is building a new career, starting a new business, moving to live somewhere new, whatever it is, there is likely to be a requirement to gain some new insights, learn some new knowledge, to help us along the way.
So we require finding reliable sources of accurate information to help us do that. We are also required to have enough self-belief and self-confidence to take action. If you don’t believe you can do it, you’re unlikely to put yourself in the way of possible failure and disappointment.
Social conditioning includes all the sources of testimony of knowledge we’ve identified previously; parents, teachers, peers etc. The term social conditioning also includes negative connotations, particularly concerned around somewhat restrictive, self-limiting beliefs we may have picked up along the way.
If we haven’t experienced it directly, we’ve all heard of people who have been told they won’t amount to much, or shouldn’t try to stretch themselves, so as not to experience disappointment and failure. If we take these kind beliefs onboard, they can become intertwined with our knowledge and it can be hard unpicking fact from fiction.
So, the way ahead includes finding reliable sources of accurate information, and unpicking your limiting beliefs enough to find the confidence to take the necessary action to follow your dreams, or at the very least, chase down your goals.
We now have more access to knowledge than ever before. We can learn so much through the internet these days. There is soo much information available, the biggest problem is there is also a lot of dross and misleading information to wade through, and it’s difficult to identify who and what to believe and who and what to ignore.
We need to find sources of information who have credibility, ideally people who have done what it is we want to do, and so have direct knowledge about what is required, or what was required for them to do it. They have a track record that we can model. We may call these people role models, or if we can get personal access to them, even mentors.
We need to make sure sources of information and knowledge are not serving some hidden agenda, which doesn’t have our best interests at heart. Sure there lots of courses out there that will teach you to do something, but there are many more who promise to give you the world, to make you rich, but who have no intention of doing anything other than lining their own pockets. When you spend a certain amount of time online you begin to recognise the signs to watch out for. These often include outrageous claims of success. The general rule applies, that if it sounds too good to be true, or promises to be really easy, then you can bet it’s a scam more often than not.
Remember one thing, the road to success is a journey, try to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Learn your trade, keep trying to make improvements, so you grow into the person you need to be to succeed, and don’t look for shortcuts. There are very few overnight successes in any areas of life.
So, in summary, learn the difference between knowledge that is fact, and beliefs that you treat as knowledge, but aren’t and that often only serve to hold you back from chasing down your goals.
Find reliable sources of accurate information and knowledge, which helps move you closer to achieving your goals.
As we begin another general election here in the UK, I think it’s important to understand how the art of persuasion will be employed by all sides in the battle for our vote. I’m going to keep updating the list below as the campaign goes on.
I think it’s important to understand what politicians say and why, then research the accuracy of such talk. You may notice that some things are repeated again and again; such as ‘fall off a cliff edge’, ‘regain control of our borders and laws’. These become sound bites that if repeated enough times become political truths in the minds of receptive listeners/viewers.
Instead of blindly allowing such comments to be integrated into your beliefs system, question their accuracy. It’s not about what you want to be true, but what is true. So consider all such sound bites as the start of your research, not the end. Take the scientific approach and look to disprove them, before you integrate them into your sense of self and believe them with complete certainty.
Remember, both sides are trying to manipulate your opinion, don’t be outraged by this fact, and it is a fact, it is a truth, after all, this is what the game of politics is founded on. Politics is about each party presenting their argument and trying to convince onlookers that their argument is more compelling.
Personally I think the whole political system is broken, it should be about having a system of governance that provides the best outcomes not the best and most persuasive arguments, and party politics is often reduced to throwing insults at the other side rather than establishing effective solutions to real-life problems.
We must hold politicians to account more; promises made should be the same as promises delivered, and often they are not.
Whoever you decide to vote for, and you should always vote, don’t blindly listen to the words, question their validity, research them and make sure you insist that promises made are honour with action, and if not, hold the promisers to account with your next vote.