Does your client buy “Authenticity”?

‘Authenticity is a trap’. Seth Godin

The problem with many marketers is that they keep saying “brands should be authentic”.As a Copywriter, I sometimes get asked by potential clients about conveying that they are “authentic” through their content.

I don’t know about you, but what exactly does this mean?

Maybe I am being thick…

But imagine you went into your local coffee shop at 8am before an important meeting and the barista had a miserable face, started talking about their problems and then asked you about your coffee. (All you wanted was a Flat White with Oat Milk)

This is authentic. Isn’t it?

Once I have been through that pedantic example, a client usually says that they want to have personality but be seen as being able to solve their clients/customers concerns.

Okay, then you can show that.

Remember an important note before you say but “x guru” says that I have to be authentic:


So first understand why you are solving the customer’s problem. Then ask your customers what they want, listen to them and understand them. Through solving a problem you give the customer something tangible. This builds up credibility and credibility trumps authenticity when it comes to people making a decision to buy from you.

Solve your customers’ problems first and they will be grateful.


Any more questions about this topic:

Why user experience is the secret sauce for small business?

20181113_150754.pngUser Experience is often spoken in terms of large corporate organisations. However, I believe that it is something that your small or medium business should consider. User Experience is about designing systems and processes that make it easier to engage and eventually buy from you.

I remember doing marketing consulting for a radio station and at the time we would have to talk to local businesses. I remember once having a discussion with a local organic shop and they kept telling themselves that they:

  • Can’t do “x” because  “x” has opened across the road
  • We cannot compete with “x supermarket”
  • I went into “x supermarket” and we found out our prices were cheaper

And So what?

What about what you offer?

How are you making it easier for people to buy from you?

As the guide by Which shows, some big brands are not doing very well either. Big budgets on marketing do not always equate to high levels of success. Usually, these organisations have gone through different Chief Execs who have accepted that it is the norm to sign of “x London agency” to do their marketing.

I think that user experience in smaller businesses is the secret sauce.


Small businesses have a great opportunity to find out what customers WANT and most importantly WHY they shop with “X”. This can be done through just having conversations and designing a customer journey map with the customer in mind. Also as a small business, you have the opportunity to test what works and what doesn’t and change it quickly.

Larger companies cannot do this because they have to either get several people to sign off on it or they do not have the nimbleness. Although Amazon, Netflix and several others have their user experience designed that their platform changes to fit you, your personality and preferences.

You are probably saying that it is alright for them.

Yes, but as a small business, you have a big opportunity to understand the client and their tastes by getting feedback on how you can improve.

So make sure you take advantage of this opportunity to give customers what they want.

How much information should you give away?

As much as you possibly can.

No, give everything away.


Most information you are giving to people is in the public domain and therefore isn’t really yours. So what separates you? The ability to be generous and be a resource of your industry. A few weeks ago, I was at MarketEDlive and one of the speakers Chris Marr said that people and businesses should aim to be the: “Wikipedia of their industry”.

In being a resource in your industry, this means that you will be referred to, considered as trustworthy and be the “go to person” (Thought leader) in your industry. Through being the reference point of your industry, it means you will end up getting more sales.

Still worried about giving information away? Ask yourself, what do people exactly pay you for? If you are a lawyer or an accountant, people pay you for the process, implementation and execution of your knowledge NOT JUST THE INFORMATION.

Let us say you gave all your information away today, I guarantee that your customers or competitors would not be able to just replicate your business. If they can, then you need to question the value that you give.

It is easier now than ever to be the “go to person” in your space…

But you have to be consistent and keep on improving…

So be generous, be the “go-to person” and give information away.

Why businesses need to use anchoring?

The product or service you have is great but the price is just…crazy.  Or that is what you would think?

According to economic theory, people are incredibly rational and will pick the most cost-efficient item or service.

If you think that people are rational, then think again?


Engagement Rings

How did Jewellers get people to pay ‘crazy sums of money’ for an Engagement Rings?

In the 1950’s or 60’s DeBeers said that:

‘One month’s salary will last a lifetime’.

This has become an accepted societal norm. People wanted somebody to guide them on how much they should spend on an engagement ring. Customers usually have no idea how much they should spend on anything until somebody tells them.



DeBeers used a common technique called anchoring which can be used to frame perception. Perception changes everything.

An ad like this will let the customer do the maths in his/her head:

Average monthly salary=around £2000

Price for a ring= £2000

Married for 40/50 years

=£50/40 per month

This maths is usually done unconsciously. A large purchase has just been broken down in the customers head and does not seem so expensive. Now, the person thinks that they have got a bargain.

It is important that in a business you are able to convey long-term value.

Anchoring as a way to frame Comparisons

Anchoring also can be used to frame comparisons. When you go to a restaurant and look at the wine list, the expensive branded wine is usually at the top of the list. It is not there to be sold, but there as a way to shift your anchor.  The expensive bottle of wine is there to make raise customers’ spending expectations.

Expensive branded wine: £500

House wine bottle is £70

A glass of wine is: £20

Most people will pick the middle bottle in that restaurant because they have been guided and primed to do it. If that same customer was in the chain restaurant down the road, then they would struggle to pay half that price.

In terms of the restaurant example,

Do you have a High priced item which raises customer expectations?


Anchoring is not just a way to help customers spend more money, I believe it is a way how you a business can raise expectations of the customer.




Chocolate Fondant shows slow sells.

“I want it done yesterday”. Various Management people.

But did they want it done so quickly?

When a small business starts out they think that they are Amazon Prime.For some products and services that is possibly the truth but for most of us we have to learn how to manage expectations.

The brain only registers two speeds which are: faster than expected and slower than expected.

Customers sometimes like things taking a little bit longer because it conveys both quality and attention to detail such as a Chocolate Fondant.

What does a Chocolate Fondant have to do with it?

Apart from giving various Amateur  (Professional) chefs on Masterchef.The Chocolate Fondant is a dessert that has a hard exterior and a moist centre.It requires skill,concentration and must be cooked to order. It is usually served at a higher price point place.The diner is also charged a premium.

On a menu, it will say:

“This will take 20 minutes to prepare”.

The Best thing about this little warning is that the customer is no longer clockwatching. They have the expectation of this wait and might order another glass of wine.

When the Fondant is finally ready, the customer gets a bit of theatre with their meal.This will be shared on social media where they can show off to their friends.

High street venues have given into our love of speed.They have central kitchens where all the food is prepared. Customers are now wise to this practice and are avoiding these places because service and food are both underwhelming.

Although the new customer of 2018 loves speed of Amazon deliveries, they also appreciate a slow and measures approach to things.

It is time to find your Chocolate Fondant!



The Left Side Problem

Does anybody remember the left side problem of the England Football Team in the early 2000s?

Now the right of midfield was covered by David Beckham whose service and delivery to the strikers was incredibly good.

However the left was a problem for England.Or so they thought.

The media,the football management and the fans were convinced  that the England Football Team needed a left sided midfielder (preferably with a left foot).

They tried many people within that position.These included:

•Paul Scholes who was one of the best central midfielders of his generation.

•Emile Heskey who was a good striker with raw power.

•Alan Thompson because he had a left foot.

•Jason Wilcox from Leeds.

It turned out that there was not a left sided problem.There was a formation problem.

The idea that the football management did not consider was that they should create a system around the personnel not the other way round.

The Powers at be at the F.A were bedded to their system of 4:4:2 that they had not considered any other system that could have accommodated these talented players.

According to Elon Musk,you have to not use systems before but you have to create a completely new system.The England Football team could have learned from this mantra.

When it comes to business,we can be shackled by a system that had a moderate amount of success in the past but is no longer fit for purpose.




The customer is not always right!

IMG_20180308_211013_466.jpgThere is that phrase that age old adage that the “customer is always right”.I believe that this is not only wrong but could be dangerous for most businesses.

Yesterday,I went for a pot of tea at a place called Birdhouse Tea Studio in Sheffield.I was told explicitly that when the timer is finished to take the brew basket out of the tea pot.

I took a photo on posted it to Instagram and took a sip of my tea.It started off pleasant and then I poured a bit more tea from the pot and it was starting to taste bitter.

Initially I thought it was my palate.

However a member of staff said:

“By looking at the colour of your tea,it seems like you forgot to take the brew basket out”.

Oops I thought! Definitely a schoolboy error.

The staff member kindly made me a fresh pot of tea because my tea experience was sub-par. They didn’t make me feel stupid.

The new knowledge I had meant that I enjoyed my second cup of tea.

Imagine if they had listened to that age old adage of “The Customer is right”?I would have been left with a bad experience.However,they used it as a great educational experience.The best sales people are great educators.

Three things I got from this experience:

*A person could look like they know what they are doing but they might not.
*Education of a new concept doesn’t have to be humiliating.
*Guide the customer.

For me:

*Listen to all instructions

Now off to make myself a pot of tea.