You Are What You Think You Are

December 14, 2015 – 2 Comments

When it comes to positive thinking, the secret lies deep within.


Positive attitude. It’s something that’s spoken about often.

Positivity is associated with satisfaction (happiness). Negativity is associated with disappointment (sadness). I know which I’d rather.

But that’s easier said than done.

After all, the unexpected does happen. Life more often than we like goes differently to how we want it to. But that’s life.

Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD.

He ruled like many before him did. But he was different to his predecessors. He’s considered as one of the few good Emperors to have ruled Ancient Rome.

As well as a military general, he was a philosopher.

He’s better known for his intellectual work than his work on the battlefield.

He once said: “You have the power over your mind – not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.”

Now, don’t forget he ruled during a turbulent time in the Roman Empire. Outside threats were no doubt at the forefront of his mind.

But during this time of fighting rival nations and tribes, he would find peace – a state of psychological stability and composure expected from a leader of a nation – through nature.

Nature would guide him. It would inspire him.

We see nature as trees, oceans, mountains and creatures. We are also part of this group. Life itself.

What nature really is, though, is something that doesn’t have rules. It doesn’t see threats. And it lives on regardless like it has done in many forms on Earth for over 3.5 billion years.

It’s better to not try and understand it.

Because that would be unnatural – we’ll probably never understand life on Earth to the full.

If you don’t believe me, ask yourself how did life begin? or what is the meaning of life?

If you’ve found the answers from scientific theories or religion, you have cheated.

That’s where I think most people go wrong. Trying to understand everything, and more importantly, trying to understand others. Caring too much about how others judge us and what we do.

You are what you think you are.

Of course, if you work in marketing you’re always trying to please others. To convince people to like you so they buy from you.

But does it have to be like that?

Maybe when we deal with others, we should stop caring.

From an early age, we’ve been told by our parents and our teachers to control our thoughts and behaviours. A role which our bosses are now taking up. But they shouldn’t because they belong to us. Not to them.

We should let things run on instinct away from these external pressures and rules and let things go.

Just like nature.

Marcus Aurelius also said: “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” I think he’s right.

If we start letting nature take its course (like it was always destined to) then we may start seeing things different. We may change our attitudes towards stuff.

We may even like it. We may gain a more positive outlook.

Take a stream, for instance.

A stream flows continuously. If it comes up against a stone, it will find a way to go around it. It won’t think to stop. It will never think.

It has a crazy vision to get to the ocean.

And it’ll do everything it takes to keep flowing; to stay alive. To get to that ocean.

It’s not perfect. But it’s always moving forward. Always making progress no matter what it may come up against on its way. It doesn’t care.

That’s what nature is.

That’s a positive attitude.

And it comes from deep within. All you have to do is find it.

Pitching and Performing

November 2, 2015

The world of movie stars and theatre performers are no different to that of sellers.
sales_pitches_movie_performances_are_one (2)

I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately.

Some of them good and some bad. And what generally defines a good or bad movie is the actors within them.

Anyone can put up with bad visuals, but if the acting is bad the movie becomes unbearable.

I once read that stage acting is the hardest form of acting.

Because the stage actor has to perform the role he is required to do, and then tailor that performance to the live audience in the theatre.

That’s where acting becomes a little like selling.

The more you think of it, it becomes a lot like selling. Because a good actor is like a good seller; they can both convince the listener about something despite the varying environments those situations occur.

Neither are real. But the more real you can become, the more convincing the performance.

So what makes good actors?

No acting role is the same. Just like no movie or no theatre performance is. So for actors to play different roles they have to become different people.

Just like in method acting (a form of acting where actors develop a set of thoughts or feelings to place themselves within that character), sales people need to also put themselves into character.

To warm up and then address the situation by looking to find out what the person is feeling and thinking, and then following suit.

Because if you’re on the same level as your audience, you’re in a position where they will listen to you. That’s a start.

There are other things, though, to keep in mind.

Limit what you say and say it with purpose. Map everything out beforehand as clarity will go a long way.

This said, it’s inevitable that along the way your audience will drop off. Momentary lapses in concentration isn’t uncommon just as it isn’t insurmountable so welcome the obstacles.

But always think positive. Nothing great has ever come in the short term.

Inexperienced actors and inexperienced sellers will give up and get disheartened with rejection. The great ones always overcome them.

Right there on stage and in a pitch meeting, diminish them by improvisation. Have the confidence to take performances down different roads should they need.

Avoid the questions and the statements that negate audience participation as well. Leave out words of doubt (“maybe” and “could” and “perhaps”) and always keep the conversation going (“and” and “also” and “again”). Be unpredictable.

Remember, acting or selling, you’re still pitching. So get your performance gearing up to a position where you can pitch. You want your audience to feel, know or do something new during or concluding.

Thinking a little more about acting within selling situations?

This will seal it.

Whilst acting, know that the audience is giving up their time and money to come to your performance. They want an experience. And in the time they’re watching you, you’re in their hands. They’re not in yours.

So look to serve. Pride yourself on what you do because what you’re looking for is a positive outcome. Your product – just like your performance – can really benefit someone’s life. Act with purpose.

If the audience’s world won’t improve following your performance, you’re in the wrong game. So be true to yourself. Commit.

The movies that win oscars are not the movies that have the best plots or the best writers. Oscar-winning movies are ones where the actors have truly delivered something special.

That have delivered a performance worthy of someone else’s time.

Pitches and selling situations are no different.

Social Media Scarcity

September 11, 2015

Your tweets and social updates are at risk. Here’s why.


The scarcity principle is as simple as principles come:

We place a higher value on things that are scarce, and a lower value on things that are abundant. That’s it.

If we were to walk into a shop to find two seemingly identical stocks of items, both costing the same, but with one running low, we’d pick that one over the other.

It’s in our nature to do so.

There are lots of examples out there to portray scarcity. Time-sensitive offers are something you’ll come across on e-commerce websites every day.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

But I chose this example – that of limited stock or a perception of limited stock – because it bears another psychological principle that motivates action. One closely related to scarcity.

That’s social proof.

If there’s a situation when an item is limited in stock because others have flocked to it means that it must be something worth checking out. Something worth buying.

This is a principle that we need to take into our marketing activities. That goes for sales as well (because that’s where it has historically been used the most).

So, on to social media scarcity.

Nearly 30% of consumers in the UK feel that brands share too many social media updates. That marketers like you and I tweet too many times or post too many photos.

What happens when something like this happens? You lose that follower. Then that follower stops seeing your updates which means he or she won’t see your messages. So you can’t engage with that person, and then you can sell to that person.

All because of the scarcity principle.

Too much of something is the killer of all things: say too much of something, then that something becomes irrelevant to its audience.

Go to a restaurant and eat yourself silly. Take a starter, main course, and a desert. Plenty of drinks with that, as well as a coffee to finish it off.

Would you enjoy the food so much to say you’d go back there right away? Not really.

You may have had a good time with friends, but you won’t go back for the food you went there for in the first place. Simply because you’ve eaten too much of it. You don’t know what it even tasted like to remember whether it was good or bad.

Why do you think high-end restaurants make their portions small?

As consumers, the more we consume the less value that is placed on that consumption. As marketing men, that’s bad.

The key, then, is to make everything precious – or at least seem it.

We generally want the things we think we can’t have. Keeping this in mind, it makes sense to limit what we say to our prospects or customers, be it on social or not.

Just as social media updates and messages are best kept scarce, so should the content that you’re talking about during.

If more people see you, more people will share you. And that’s how you get your social proof. To get more is to say less.

Keep trying to push out content and special offers and time-sensitive deals without consideration of the principle for which you are loading this content with is defeating the whole object.

So don’t put your social updates at risk.

Push your scarcity out scarcely.

The Blessing of Constant

August 24, 2015 — 2 Comments 

Why working out and marketing is the same.


If you work out, you’ll know what I’m talking about here.

If you work in business or on the front-line of that business, this will also strike a chord.

Look at all the great looking guys and all the great looking girls. The ones that not only look good but feel good because of looking good.

“Why can’t I look like that?”

If you’re amongst the group of people asking these kind of questions, then you’re an idiot. Alarm bells are now ringing.

Because the people that are in good shape and skinny and are well-groomed don’t get like that naturally. (Well few do, but it’s a minority.)

They’re like that because they work hard.

They spend their time looking after themselves and spend their evenings in the gym. Exercising. Keeping fit.

In business – in sales, advertising and marketing – it’s the same.

The person that is constantly looking to better him or herself is like the business that is always busy on the front end of the business.

Who is looking to bring new business into the business.

But it’s tricky.

Conduct a marketing campaign now, and within the first few weeks you’ll see nothing. One night out on the town equally won’t promise anything.

Give it a few months, then you’ll have something worth shouting about.

Hit the treadmill for an hour and you’ll feel terrible afterwards. But if you start hitting the treadmill every single day then you’ll start to feel great.

You’ll be getting fitter.

The principle is the same if you work in either of the professions mentioned earlier that involve bringing customers into a business. The front line.

You might take a sales call today and feel at though you’ve got nowhere. But after that call, not only have you started a relationship that may turn into a sale, but you’ve also taken valuable feedback for your next call.

You might conduct a marketing or advertising campaign and feel as though you’ve had no ROI. But what you have actually done is started to build your brand, as well as learned a lot about your market.

That’s the blessing of being constant.

Look at the big players. The big brands. The guys that get the girls. They’re constantly promoting; constantly working out.

Yes, they may get an injury at some point. They may get hurt. But chances are they won’t, and become fitter as a business. More visible.

Just like anything in life: if you want to be good at something, you have to keep on doing it. No matter what the circumstances are.

The brands that are blessed with great clients and great staff are the ones that are always busy. Busy attracting these people. Because they won’t come by just having a great looking website or headquarters.

You’re probably in some form of relationship right now. You probably did something to get it too.

Just like there are potential relationships out there, there are potential clients.

You just have to constantly want them.

Hidden Messages and Meanings

July 22, 2015

Hidden messaging. I’ve probably sent chills down your spine by just saying it. But it can be done.


Understanding what you see, is one thing.

Not understanding that you’ve seen something when you’ve seen it is something else.

Over the years, the principle of hidden and subliminal messaging has gone down a winding road of uncertainty.

Read up on the topic and what you’ll see is controversy. Controversy in abundance.

The concept of subliminal messaging in marketing is one that has always fascinated me, though. A clever mix of psychology and advertising to influence perception outside of consciousness, or at least an attempt at this, is bound to raise an eyebrow.

Having seen it; see it then officially getting banned on TV; then coming back and making a subtle encore in the wider industry, my views are still somewhat mixed.

On the contrary, I would suggest there’s still a place for it within the marketing game. You just have to know your limits; know your audience.

Does subliminal messaging result in a direct product sale? No. Does it result in a direct call to action? Probably not.

On the other hand, can hidden messages and meanings included within a buying journey help the consumer think a little differently about a product over a competitor’s? I think it might.

X amount of studies (I have no idea how much) have been conducted to figure out if subliminal messaging could be successful. None has proved it to be so. But none has proved it to be “unsuccessful” either.

Marketing, therefore, reaches a dilemma.

After nearly 60 years of trial and error who really knows. Even after a thorough BBC study this year, scientists are yet to determine whether there are any real advantages.

Reaching a conclusion that the results aren’t statistically significant – even though the results were in favour of a positive change in behaviour – still leaves us in the dark after building such hope.

Knowing that Hollywood movies, election campaigns, magazine covers, and too many a-list brand logos and identities to even begin to list, though, have all been built with some form of hidden message included fills me with some hope for subliminal messaging.

Even if that hope is one hanging by a thread.

The marketers of the 21st century must consider every piece of content as a rare chance of speaking to a prospect. To a customer. Every chance must be savoured. So would you turn down a secret sales pitch given the chance?

If we, as marketers, are doing our jobs properly, we must try to deliver something extra when we deliver our marketing. A value, a meaning, a message…

Nobody knows they saw it. But they did.

Glance at the first letters of each of the paragraphs within the body of this post. Do it now. You don’t have to go over the top when it comes to hiding a message within another.

Websites Aren’t Just Websites

June 23, 2015

You’ve read this sentence; now four new websites have just gone live in that time. But there’s a context that gets lost when it comes to building websites.


I’ve seen a lot of websites.

The total amount of websites online now exceeds 1 billion. Probably most people today have seen thousands and thousands of them.

A lot of these websites fail in one key area. An area which is the whole purpose of building and having a website in the first place.

How do you know if a website is any good? Because it gets tons of organic traffic or if the bounce rate is low or if it has a vertical scroll or if it looks real pretty?

Of course not. There’s more to a website. But only one context that makes a difference.

Where websites fail is if they fail to sell.

Vincent Van Gough was a post-impressionist painter. This refers to the type of art that he painted which is connected to a French movement in the 1880s.

He painted around 900 paintings, and 1,100 drawings and sketches.

Yet, he never sold a painting to a gallery. Out of 2,000 pieces of art, neither took off.

After his death, though, things changed. His work began to take off. His work spread like wildfire and was brought by collectors around the world.

Now, Van Gough’s work is worth millions and he is considered among the elite group of artists. His paintings are amongst the most expensive paintings ever sold!

So who decides if paintings are any good? Who’s in charge?

It’s absolutely ludicrous that someone can paint so many paintings, and only get noticed when he is dead. But they are what they are now because of the context of those paintings and the romance around them.

It’s context like this business, brands and websites don’t have.

Romance like this doesn’t exist in business because brands cannot be successful once they cease to exist. They have a very specific context.

Websites are there for a purpose and that purpose is to sell. Your customers and visitors are in charge of this. They are the context. Because if it doesn’t sell, then it is one that is failing.

Of course, websites have to look good.

You’d buy a pretty car over an ugly looking car just like I would. But a car is a product. A website is there as a platform to sell the product. It’s not the product.

A car can be a piece of art, but the website behind it shouldn’t be. Yes, it should have elements of ‘art’ that portray the car and its features in the best light. But its main purpose should be to entice the visitor to come into the showroom and see and feel and test-drive the car. Because that’s where a sale is made.

That’s what a business is there for. Along with its website, which should never be forgotten.

A website is there to inform, promote, educate and entertain. To sell. To convert people that browse to people that are interested. Conversion is sometimes forgotten about and people then design for things other than to promote. This is wrong.

Van Gough was a great painter.

But he was also mentally unstable. He suffered from epilepsy and depression and sadly committed suicide at 37. He created beautiful pieces of art that failed to sell in his market.

A website is not a piece of art.

If you think that websites are just websites – that are pretty and pleasing on the eye – then you’re in trouble.

Monitoring & Positioning

June 12, 2015

In any given market, a brand or business needs to have a firm position. But without monitoring, how can you determine that position?


America has seen its fair share of Presidents.

George Washington is one of the first names that come to mind because he was the first. Then Barack Obama, because he is the current President.

But can you name the forty-fourth President? Probably not.

Neither could I. That’s not just because I’m British. Most Americans won’t be able to tell you either.

The answer is actually Barack Obama.

But do you know Barack Obama as the forty-fourth President of the United States? Nope.

You know Barack Obama as the first ever black President.

Which is unique. It’s different. That’s a position.

And that’s that’s how you need to be thinking about your brand or business, and how you position yourself in your market.

But you can’t do it alone. You need the help from the most important factor that will come into contact with you.

That’s your customers.

Today’s customer has the power to voice an opinion like never before. The increase in social channels and their zero barriers to entry is giving anyone that has access to the internet a platform to talk.

To say what they want, how they want it, when they want it and where they want it.

When you position yourself in your market you’ll need to consider these factors as they determine whether your venture will be successful or not. If you’re already successful without positioning yourself properly, then the potential is huge.

But positioning yourself isn’t a seminar. It’s not a weekend retreat.

It’s an exercise that takes months and months of research, thinking, planning, and monitoring. And it needs to be done.

That’s how monitoring the market to see what people don’t already have available to them is the first step. Then offering it.

Because then you’ll know that people will react to it because it is different. People love different.

Set yourself up with social monitoring tools Hootsuite and Social Mention. These will tell you exactly what people are talking about on social media networks about pretty much everything. If people have needs, you can find them here.

Next, use all of Google’s free resources. Google Trends will tell you how popular search terms are, whilst Google Alerts will give you an alert every time your keyword is mentioned on the web. Google Adwords can tell you a lot about keywords too.

Also, never be afraid to survey customers, prospects and friends to see what they think. SurveryMonkey is great for this.

If you want to be different, not only do you need to look at your competitors, but you need to look at your customers.

That’s why a smart brand is a listener of the market. A listener for opportunities.

Sure Barack Obama didn’t choose to be black. As a kid, he didn’t just decide he was going to become President one day. He didn’t choose it to be this way.

Things happen that we cannot control.

That’s in life, and in business.

But if you know how people and customers think, and how they react to things, then you can make much more of an impact. You can tailor everything to them.

If you can position yourself as totally unique, and offer what your customers what, then you’ll make a much greater impact.

That’s with everything you do.

Position yourself where everyone you want to see you, can see you.

The State of Play

May 26, 2015

Is your customer experience up to scratch? New figures might suggest otherwise. 


The internet poses as many opportunities as it does restrictions.

As much as online shopping and browsing are both speedy and convenient, they can also be frustrating and difficult.

The internet is as much a platform as it is a barrier.

Roughly 6 months ago I talked about The Business of an Online Business. It’s worth checking out if you’re serious about the current state of play on the internet.

As it’s not pretty.

And what I’m about to say has been brewing for some time.

A recent SDL survey found that 40% of its respondents said that their worst customer experiences came at the hands of digital industries. That’s a little shy of half of all experiences.

Can we then assume that half of online customers are not completely satisfied with their experiences? Probably.

It’s been said that good customer experiences come down to empathy, appreciation and helpfulness. If only it was that simple.

If only it was that simple.

Just a few weeks ago I bought a used book from Amazon. If you buy used books from Amazon, you’ll know that the seller lists the condition of the book that’s being sold.

Long story short, I wasn’t happy with what arrived. The experience wasn’t completely satisfactory.

But there’s a problem.

I’m not convinced that this pattern-dip in customer experience is solely down to the brand or business. I think it’s because of the customer. The customer who now calls the shots.

When I brought that book, it clearly stated that the book wouldn’t be in perfect condition. That it would have minor damage. Regardless, I wasn’t happy.

In all honesty, the book at been scribbled, highlighted and noted throughout. It shouldn’t have been sent to anyone.

But that’s just an opinion. And again, in the battle between the customer and the seller, the customer will (and should) always win. It’s that opinion that matters.

At times, there are customers that you’ll never be able to please on the internet. For the rest, there are areas to look at.

To correct this is a balancing act between values and function. Between your brand and your website.

First, look into your brand. Offer what customers really want, and then go beyond it. Keep innovating with the customer put first. Build a community for those customers so that others can share stuff with them. Your brand has to have a set of values that customers can all relate to. Make them clear and truthful. It’s why your product is brought over your competitor’s.

That leads on nicely to the next area…

The area where it actually happens: the online experience. Your website needs to load quickly, that’s a given on desktop and mobile. Navigation needs to be effortless. Keep content to a minimum, with good quality visuals. Make it easy for customers to contact you. But more that anything, make everything really simple. Don’t make them think.

If you put the customer first, you’ll always go beyond. You’ll have a better chance of providing a good experience.

Yes, it sounds cliche. Sure everyone puts the customer first. But do they really put the customer first? Because let’s face it, 40% is atrocious.

Everything you say and do online needs to be transparent. Equally, everything you say needs to be true.

You’ll get caught out otherwise. Then the bad experiences will keep on building up behind you.

The internet poses as many opportunities as it does restrictions. Know them well, and work with them to deliver the best customer experience possible.

You don’t want to be somebody’s worst online experience. At 40% of all experiences, it’s not one that you can easily avoid either.

That’s the current state of play. Don’t leave anything to chance.