Style may change but motivations stay the same!

If you do business with people you need to understand the above image of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs! (we’ll look at attachment theory in the next article!) But you need to understand what your client needs to get done.  What level of need do they need to fulfill.  It will heavily taint your approach…or at least it should!

When we consider for example why most men buy a lawn mower, it’s not because they spend all night wondering whether the grass blades are too long.  It’s because they have multiple pressures coming at them from all kinds of angles.

  • Social pressure: the neighbours will judge you on your lawn’s quality
  • Municipal Laws: You will often get a fine if your lawn is left to grow.
  • Desire for a look.
  • Desire to be accepted
  • Desire to feel good because you’re doing what is expected of you.

None of those reasons actually have anything to do with the action of cutting the grass: it is all about the results of cut grass.  So You don’t buy the lawn mower for its capacity to cut grass but you do so to fulfill different levels of needs above.

Now needs are always the same.  But how you fulfill those needs are cultural.  So if you want clients from different cultural backgrounds you have to understand why they have the needs.  While these differences may look superficial, they are often deeply ingrained.

Take the simple act of buying something at the store.  Here we are used to prices being fixed and being non-negotiable.  We establish a price based on cost and margin.  While other cultures value the nature of the relationship with whom they are doing business first and not the relationship with the company.  Some cultures are more willing to make concessions to support the long-term nature of the relations.  North American approaches may well be more of a “take-it-or-leave-it-attitude.”  More about the transaction than the overall.

So we see how different needs are being fulfilled by the simple act of negotiating.  Take this with you when you begin talking with clients and ask yourself what it is that they need and you will have a greater respect for your clients and they will feel understood.

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Accessibility to products…all about how to sell!

There are only seven ways to make money.  An immense number of things can be transacted in these seven ways but there are only seven ways to sell things.

Sale of an object, User fees, Memberships, Rental, Licensing fees, Brokerage fees, Advertising fees.  That’s it.  And it is through understanding your clients and their capacity to pay for something that we choose the appropriate method.  What is it that people need, why do they want to hire your products or services and how do they expect to use what you have to sell.  So let’s look at them and what they have as expectations and advantages.

  • Sale of an object:  This is for items that your clients can afford to own 100% of the time after purchase, you can store it, maintain it, and it is something that you gain an advantage of having constant access to.  It may also be things that you don’t want others to have used or handled.
  • User Fees: This is for people who want to have access to something that they don’t want to or cannot own 100% of the time.  You are charged when you use the service or product.  This may be something like your cell phone service.  You are charged for usage of the network.
  • Memberships: This is the ability to come and use the product anytime you want.  It is a kind of shared ownership of the things being shared.  You can come and go anytime and use the product as much as you want.
  • Rental: This is the idea of on demand, temporary, ownership of an object that you wouldn’t want to own or can’t afford to own.
  • Licensing fees:  This is the ability to use someone else’s ideas to make money.  You pay them a fee so you can sell their product.
  • Brokerage fees: This is paying someone as an intermediary to perform a service that is within their expertise .

So now you can ask yourself: how would my clients be most advantaged?  That approach will generate more business than any other approach due to its clientcentric nature.  So ask yourself, “If my product or service is too expensive or burdensome for my clients, how can I build a business model that is based on service and not your personal desires.”

Good luck!

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Inventing your brand! What to Know.


The greatest act anyone can do is creation.  Brand is one thing that we are told daily not to do.  We are told not to pretend to be something else, be genuine, you can’t judge a book by its cover, blah, blah, blah.  Life is made up of people looking out their windows and judging things; the neighbours, the lawn, someone’s car, the computer that someone uses, you name it.  So what is a brand?  It is the greatest lie because it is a fabulation that you are going to choose to represent ideals.  Those things that we can never reach but that we fantasize about obtaining.

Here’s another thing: your brand isn’t for you. It’s for your clients.  People aren’t there for you!  As a captain of industry, you are there as the servant of the people.  You are not there to be served, you are there to serve the needs of the people, and they are there waiting for someone who will fulfill their needs.  Perhaps they don’t know that their need exists.  It may be your job to create awareness of the need and to communicate your brand and its ability to fulfill their needs.

Your brand is the thing you want to be.  So, when you start your company or when you renew your Mission/Vision/Values, you have the chance to invent what you want to be.  What your company could be.  It is an empty space that you will fill with actions that you will take in the attempt to become something greater than any one person could hope to become.

So what are you saying Aaron? Are you telling me to lie to people so that they’ll buy my stuff?

Absolutely not!  I am telling you that your brand isn’t about you.  It’s about the people who need what you have to sell, whether it’s a service or a product.  And it is the clients who need to identify with your brand as being part of their tribe, they need to see themselves in your brand.  If people don’t judge that you are in line with their values, their traditions, their ways, they will do business with someone else first because they will identify first with that brand and not yours!

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What’s in a name?

People are meaning-making-machines.  We need meaning, we need to find reasons and relationships.  Try and get away in a world that is empty and meaningless and you will fall in between the cracks filled with those who provide people with meaning.  So if you choose a company name that has no meaning, internal or external, people will have a hard time making yous stick in their heads.

When I started my Storage business, I spent about 8 months finding the name that would work.  I founded Casa Grande self storage.  Why?  Because, we went through a hundred names before settling on that one!

  • SecureZone
  • Alcatraz
  • Home-storage
  • True North
  • etc etc.

A name has power and we can’t forget that.  It is what people told fairy tales about and so many stories.  When you know the name of something you have power over that thing.  You also have the ability to call upon it and to use it.  In the best known fairy tale, the hard working girl has to guess the name of the tricky gnome (Rumplestiltskin) to get out of the horrible deal that has been cut.

Even when my children came about, we spent a great deal of time hammering out which names to give them…And other great successes today have done the same.  Look at:

  • Drop Box
  • Evernote
  • LinkedIn
  • Soundcloud
  • Youtube

All names that are huge in their own right and all of them tell you exactly what they do!  There is no working hard to figure out what these companies do and how they can help you!  Please help your clients because they have better things to do than figure you out.  People work hard to assimilate all the diverse and complicated information that is out there.  People are here because they want to live their lives…Not because they want to make you rich.  It is not your client’s job to understand you and to figure out why you’re the right business to do business with.  It is your job to understand what job your clients have to do and let them know that you can do it for them!

If you decide to come up with the name that makes you happy but no one understands, go ahead but don’t sit around waiting for people to break down your door because they know exactly what you do and how you do it!

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Attachment Theory. Understanding needs!

So last time we looked at the hierarchy of needs by Maslow, and how the basic needs are the same for everybody, but how we arrive at those needs differs between people.  Now we are going to look at how using basic needs allows us to create relationships that last a lifetime and to which we are fundamentally bonded.  attachment theory is something that has been being developed since the UN wanted to create awareness of the impacts on children being left orphans after the Second World War.  It has largely supplanted Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as the dominant approach in understanding people through Psychoanalysis.

“Okay Aaron, you’re babbling…what’s your point?”

Pay attention, the whole world revolves around this theory now and it explains why social media works and why you should care!

Today people are in an ocean of media marketing crap.  We are constantly bombarded by people telling us how much we should give them our money because they make the biggest, fastest, hottest, sexiest, most ecological thermonuclear widget in the world.  But what actually attracts people is calling to their attachments.  And those attachments may be parental, relational, emotional, sexual, political, and even brand.  But how do we attach ourselves to a brand??

Easy, values!

People live in a theoretical future.  People don’t spend there time in the present, they live in some hoped for future that calls them to do things today.  If our society didn’t completely fail us we feel part of some group.  And those groups are what link us together;  us and them.  Social media, and even brands are about creating links between culture and product.  Their product has to make my life a representation of what I want.

When it comes down to it, I could care less about the difference in flavour between coke a Pepsi!  I want to drink Coke because it’s the real thing. I don’t want to be part of the new generation I want to be solidly planted in the historical number one.  I see myself as the solid winner not the substitute number two.  So I see Coke as my drink and Pepsi as the replacement.

Now ask yourself to what subset of humanity do you want to attach yourself?  What need do you want to fulfil as a brand?  That is the group who will become your tribe and the people who you will want to market to.

Have fun!

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Apple drives its business. Permission marketing in action

This is not a I love Apple article…so anti-apple people, Stop.  It just happens that I had a great client experience with them.

If you want to know why the Apple Stores do so well, well there is a customer service aspect that goes beyond the whole design, it just works whoop,whoop thing.

We are currently evaluating what kind of IT equipment we will transition to for the next generation of computers, smart-phones, etc.

One of those options is to go into the closed garden that is Apple.  We are tempted.  And I have to say the pre-sale experience has been impressive so far, and I’ll tell you why.

  • Follow ups
  • Interest
  • Listening

They have been there when I called and I was impressed by their capacity to listen recommend products and solutions that they have as well as taking the time to write personalized letters and make jokes in them as well as making sure to be there when they say they will be and they have followed up in a respectful manner.  They are an excellent example of permission marketing.

What is permission marketing, simple, just ask if your allowed to do things before you do them! IE

  • May I call you back?
  • Can I answer any other questions?
  • May I ask you a question?
  • Can I give you any other information to help you with your decision?
  • Do you think you’ll be making a decision in the next few weeks
  • May I call you back after that date?

So when we ask our clients what they want we feel respected and it makes us responsible for our relations with them  their actions and our feelings towards them.  It is the new wave and it is so much better than older methods.

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