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July 2015

The Psychology Of Business Storytelling And How To Educate Your Customers


When Tommy Hilfiger was launching his first ad campaign via a billboard thanks to George Lois and Tommy’s partner at the time, he may not have known that his audacious self promotion of himself versus three of the most popular American menswear designers would turn into such a classic example of bravado and customer education. Tommy Hilfiger’s ad not only made a statement, it taught the public that there was another trusted brand in menswear even they did not know it yet.

We like to buy from vendors that we trust. Trust comes from knowledge. We do not trust people or businesses we do not know. The more a buyer knows, the easier it is to spend. This is one reason why infomercials are so successful. They spend a lot of time telling you who, why, what, how and where you can buy their products.

In marketing, education always wins.

This works for healthcare as well as it does in the entertainment and even the retail industry. It is more than likely that you shop at retailers that you are more familiar with than those that you hardly see or hear about. Those who say advertising will cease to exist do not understand human nature. Think of your favorite musician or group.

After you came to like their music, you decided to find out more about them and can probably mention the names of all of their albums. This goes for sports teams and athletes as well. The more we know about them, the more we deify them.
One of the best books on this topic was written by Ogilvy on AdvertisingDavid Ogilvy

Customer education defines the psychology of business storytelling.

The caveat here is that all knowledge is not created equal. Knowledge that we deem as acceptable, favorable or beneficial to us usually holds sway over our decisions. That detergent brand that tells you that Hydrogen Chloride was used in making their products may not cause you to whip out your wallet as easily as their competitor who tells you that they are using natural chemicals that make your clothes looking and smelling whiter, brighter and fresher.

See what I did there? The former was educating on features, the latter on benefits. The former was stating what is unique about them, the latter is stating how their uniqueness is going to impact the client’s life.

How to educate your customers

Start off by making at least 90% of the information about them. Speak to their needs and tell them exactly how your product or service is beneficial to them. If you do not know what benefit your product provides then your customers will not know either. There are qualitative and quantitative benefits. In my practice I may use quantitative measures by saying “I will help you set up recurring income systems that will increase your revenue by 15% in the next 2 months.”

For qualitative I may say “ I will implement 4 marketing strategies that will give you peace of mind and allow you to be able to take one extra week of vacation time this year.” Some businesses thrive better with qualitative over quantitative education.

Nike could sell you on the quality of the rubber soles and the toughness of their padding but it’s more effective for them to sell buyers on how their shoes will help you to be more athletic just like the high jumping, fast running athletes in their ads. I often joke about how hardly anyone knows how many megapixels their smartphone’s camera has because phones are sold more as lifestyle staples than gadgets for techies. The same goes for cars.

I would like to add that even if you cannot find something overtly beneficial to say, you can share awesome facts. Remember this?

At the time, no one was so boldly saying you could hold 30,000 songs in your pocket Information that wows people is good because it will spread by word of mouth faster and more organically.

Another example is in gaming. When I first heard that the Witcher 3 was made by a team, the quarter of the size of their competitors, I was intrigued. I also heard about how their budget was smaller and yet created an RPG that would take at least 200 hours to complete because of how deep it is. There may be other RPG’s that are better but they have not bothered to educate me.


Tell your customers over and over again the following without being boring or overly technical. The better teacher will win even if she is selling something boring. Who would have thought a junk of metal sitting on four rubber tires could be seen as a collectible?

Why you are in the business of retail, food, real estate, fashion, computers, technology et cetera– What opportunities do you have a unique skill set for? Tell us

What you love about your job, products, industry– Share the emotional highlights and why you love going to work every day. This will also attract the right talent.

Your opinions, vision, mission, ideas, concepts and insights. —If growing up near a rice farm gives you a unique insight into Asian cuisine then please go ahead and share.

What products and services are available?— Tell your prospects about all your products. Variety to some people is a sign of how big your operation is and might build trust.

What the benefits of doing business with you are?…

Where they can buy your products–Educate the public on when, where and how your products are distributed.

What materials went into the making of your furniture? –Talk about the grain, the weight, the source, the durability, how it fits into the customer’s lifestyle.

Who else buys your cars and is happy with them–Get testimonials of your clients even if it’s just one person.

How long it takes you to make that shoe, widget, application product and so on.

What happens behind the scenes? Do you have photos, journals, videos or info graphics to share?

Remember, the better teacher will attract more eyeballs and listeners.
Are there any other ways to educate your customers that you recommend? Please share below.

Book Recommendation
David Ogilvy’s Ogilvy on AdvertisingOgilvy On Advertising

Most VIsited Posts This Week
1.About Me
2. Book recommendations
3. Traction Book Review

How To Make Money As A Photographer And Why So Many Are Broke Part 1

Allen Coleman. @Godismystylist

Allen Coleman.

Why are so many photographers broke?

The beautiful thing about having a skill you are passionate about is that it is quite easy to turn it into a business if you know how to do so. I used to think that making money from your skill was the same as having a business. Many photographers fall into that trap as well. What they do not realize is that until you have products and services that generate income even when you are not around, you do not really have a business.

Question for today is,

“If I went away for 3 weeks, would my business be able to generate income without me?”

In this series, I am going to share some insights on how to make more money with a skill such as photography. The best photographers I have met use these strategies and tactics to increase their income and customers.

Tj Letsa @bytjletsa

Tj Letsa @bytjletsa

Commercial value

It is said that the best basketball players are not in the NBA and the best footballers are not in Champions League. This is not completely true in the context of commercial value. A lot of people have a talent but they do not have enough efficiency, knowledge or competence to make this talent commercially viable. Maybe the neighbourhood soccer star can score more goals than Lionel Messi but does he have the composure to remain calm when 75000 people are booing in a Champions League final? Will he be able to show up for practice at 430 am for 7 weeks without fail?
Being good with a camera is one thing but the talent only become commercially valuable when it can generate income and be compared with the best when matched on a global level. Sadly, many photographers I have met no little to nothing about business.


This is a term that describes people who are more concerned with technical details than the actual value it brings to the client. Photographers who obsess over lenses, lighting, saturation and aperture over client satisfaction in my experience do not take very good photos.(from a client perspective) This reminds me of developers who always want to argue over which Javascript library to use and Graphic designers who can spend an hour talking about how which fonts to use while the client is just looking at them and rolling her eyes.
Always think about the client first. She is the one paying for the photography so it should be more about whether she will like the photos forever or not. The likes and fame will follow only after client satisfaction.

Barrak El-Mahmoud, @capturegh,

Barrak El-Mahmoud, @capturegh,

How to get popular
When Barrak El-Mahmoud, started out, he was not very good and he did not have any paying customers so he came up with a plan. He would go to a popular lounge in Labone and take pictures of the guests for free. He would however take down their Facebook names and tag them online after editing the photos so their network would like and share his work. This worked out brilliantly for him because he quickly put up a website with his rate card and positioned himself as someone to call whenever you had an event.

Another strategy that works is to approach a potentially popular startup or celebrity and take some photos for them in exchange for a mention on their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages. An even more effective approach would be to ask them for the phone numbers or email addresses of people you want to work with that are in their network. You can then send your portfolio with a personal message and your rate card to these potential clients. Knowing that one of their friend’s likes your work will lower the barriers of entry. In addition to this I would say that is prudent to make a list of 100 people you would like to shoot in your local area or nation and contact each one personally to introduce your work. Also when picking people to work with, make sure they have a lot of engaged followers. If you have 1000 followers and they have 2000, that may not be the best joint venture unless it is a niche you are going after. If not, you may need to find someone who has at least 10 times the number of followers you currently have.

Do not fall for the “I know a lot of people so take free pictures of me. “


In addition to this, when someone puts up your photo, they can ask their followers to contact you in the next 48 hours for a discount on your services. You should explain to them that they will get some kind of remuneration for this.

Sidenote: Too many photographers are afraid to walk up to someone and pitch their services. I do not know how they expect to make money with shyness. On another note, not everyone is honest so be careful you do not go around taking free photos for people who will not help you. It is also important to tell people that you will be charging them some money before you take the photos. I have seen photographers get to the middle of a project and realize that they are doing too much work for free. The client by that time is not interested in paying for something that she did not know was going to come with a bill


Someone asked me on Tumblr recently, which photographers I thought were doing exceptional work. That question made me think about positioning. As a photographer, do you want your ideal client to think of you when she wants photos for a corporate event, baby shower, wedding or a portrait of herself? This is why it is important to have no more than 2 areas that you heavily publicize as your strengths. Only about 10% of your audience will remember what you shot two years ago. The other 90% care about what you are shooting today. Allen Coleman has done a fantastic job of positioning himself as a fashion photographer with an editorial flair. Looking at his online presence will never make anyone confuse him for a wedding photographer.


There are events happening every day that need good photography. Talk to event management companies or friends and find out who is about to have a baby shower, a wedding or a party.
Look out for people who have clients that need photography. For example, pastors and marriage counsellors are a good place to start.
Speak to your local church and find out which couples are getting ready for marriage and offer your services.
This will help you gain enough traction and also spread word about your services. My mother once saw a company she wanted to supply automobile parts for, but didn’t know which parts they would need so she devised a plan. She followed their trucks to their loading stations and asked the drivers for the names of their mechanics. She then approached the mechanics and they told her which parts were usually faulty. This information helped her to tailor her pitch for the company. The alternative was to sit in her office and wait for business to come knocking on her door.

We will speak about pricing because let’s face it, most people do not want to pay you the right amount for your work.

Any other tips and personal experiences for photographers and creatives the visual realm?

Photographers featured in this post
Baby Raj(that’s how I know her. lol)-her work has soul

Barrak El-Mahmoud, @capturegh, Many of the photographers in this post were trained by him at some point.

Steve Mooresive : His commercial photography work is stellar

Amfo Connolly: He knows how to do the glam and has an eye for design

Allen Coleman: You can tell how passionate he is about fashion through his pics without ever meeting him face to face.

Ofoe Amegavie: He has an eye for fashion editorials


I think one of the biggest problems for a creative entrepreneur is growing a business. This is my attempt at helping. I have made and sometimes lost money as a fashion designer, graphic designer, founder of an artist management firm,web developer, freelance designer, brand consultant and marketing director at a footwear brand.
Do you know any good resources for creative entrepreneurs? Please share below.

For extra insights on the above, Click Here!

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1. Podcast Episode 1
2. Podcast Episode 2
3. About Me

Book review on Traction:A startup guide to getting customers. An entrepreneur’s perscpective

traction book

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting CustomersTraction is the best book on marketing strategies for tech startups that I have read. I have even considered adding it to our library at the Goshen Institute. Technology entrepreneurship and marketing in that space has interested me for a very long time. Most of the marketing books out there are focused on selling offline products and services but thank God for Marc Ioli for steering me towards Traction. I read this book strategically using my inspectional reading template before I read it the regular way.


I wanted to know more about marketing in the tech world and how what strategies growth hackers are using to build billion dollar businesses in Silicon Valley and other parts of the world. Remember that most of my business reading is a search for value that I can give not just to the entrepreneurs I consult for but for the businesses I run.
The authors are both founders of tech companies. Gabriel is the CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo; an alternative search engine to Google and Justin run growth for a company that recently got bought by Rackspace.

Value of the book and my notes
The book’s real value is in the strategies(traction channels) and real life testimonies from entrepreneurs and founders who have made money using these methods.
The book highlights that

“Traction is a sign that your company is taking off. It’s obvious in your core metrics: if you have a mobile app, your download rate is growing rapidly. If you’re a search engine, your number of searches is skyrocketing. If a SaaS tool, your monthly revenue is blowing up. If a consumer app, your daily active users are increasing quickly. You get the point.”

Traction trumps everything. If you are not thinking about growth then you are probably distracted by something less important.
Do not major on the minors, concentrate on getting results.
The Bulls Eye framework is to traction what the Lean Startup framework is to product development. This works by picking a traction channel and testing it on a small group of customers. If it achieves the desired result then repeat. If it does not then consider trying another approach. Do not waste time on a traction channels that does not move the needle far enough for it to matter.
It’s absolutely important to always have a traction goal that the whole business is working towards. This could be 1 million appstore downloads, 10000 active monthly users or 50% of the market in 10 months or less.
Choosing the right traction goal is highly dependent on your type of business because it should align with your overall strategy. Reaching your traction goal should have a significant impact on your business such as profitability or double digit market share. (I talk more about market share and monopoly at this post.)

Examples of traction channels are

    Viral Marketing
    Offline Ads
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    Content Marketing
    Public Relations (PR)
    Social & Display Ads
    Email Marketing
    Engineering as Marketing
    Unconventional PR
    Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
    Speaking Engagements
    Community Building
    Affiliate Programs
    Existing Platforms
    Targeting Blogs
    Business Development (BD)
    Trade Shows
    Offline Events

A summary of three of these traction channels are :

1. Sales
This is the process of generating, qualifying and converting leads in paying customers. Your first customer is usually someone you know. Stuff to think about
What’s the process – How does the company buy products or services like yours?
What’s the need – Is there a serious need for the product/service/solution we are offering?
Who has the authority? – Which individuals in the company have the authority to make the purchase? In consulting we call this the buyer. This is the individual who usually authorizes these purchases.
How much money? – Does the prospect have the funds to buy what we are selling? How much will not solving this problem cost them? It is important to have the answer to the second question because it is something you should absolutely add to your pitch. Telling me “Jeffrey, by not using our company’s offering, you are leaving $1million on the table every month”, will definitely perk up my ears.
What is the time commitment? – What budget are we looking at? How long is the sales cycle? When will the decisions be made?

2. Affiliate Marketing
An affiliate program is where you (as an individual or company) pay people or companies to perform certain actions (such as making a sale or getting a qualified lead). For example, whenever you see Marie from Hello Sassy Naturals recommend a product, there is a chance that she is going take a cut when there are sales through her blog. In this case Marie is the affiliate. Companies like Macys, Zappos, eBay, Amazon, and Netflix use affiliate programs to drive what the book says are significant portions of their revenue. It is said that, affiliate programs are known to be the main traction channel for many ecommerce stores, info products and membership programs.
You can also have affiliates selling or getting you leads by giving them a cut whenever they provide such services. Websites such as Clickbank and Gumroad have become a goldmine for thousands of affiliates worldwide. Some of these affiliate marketers receive over $1 million dollars a year by selling other people’s products to their list of leads. Some affiliate marketers have hundreds of thousands of prospects waiting to be marketed to. A VP of growth at a public company worth over $100 billion once suggested that I look seriously at affiliate marketing since it holds such good rewards and is a crash course on marketing online. James Idayi is also an expert in the field.

3. Business development
This is almost like sales BUT with one key distinction: the primary focus is to exchange value through partnerships, whereas most sales focuses primarily on exchanging legal tender (dollars or cedis etc) for a product or service.
Sales is focused on selling to the customer, whereas BD is partnering to reach customers in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Google used BD early on to gain traction. They did this by partnering with Netscape to be the default search engine in the browser and also with Yahoo by powering their searches.

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting CustomersThe book deserves 4 out of 5 stars for focusing on the reason most people will pick it up. There is less than 10% of fluff in my opinion and it reads more like a textbook than a business or marketing book. If your goal is to learn how to market in this digital age or if you desire to work in sales, BD, marketing or growth at a startup, this is a must read.
You can get it Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customershere.
Have you already read Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting CustomersTraction? Do you recommend any other books on marketing for startups in this digital age?