The old headmistress pulled her spectacles down and looked over them across the courtyard. Then she put them up and looked out under them.
She seldom looked THROUGH them for so small a thing as a boy. This was her state pair: it was built for admonishment, not for seeing through.
She looked perplexed for a moment, and then said, loud enough for the furniture to hear:
“What do you think you are doing?”
The boy muttered, “I’m taking a nap while walking to class”. He pushed open the door and went right past her, with his eyes still closed.
When I told this story to a group of unruly sixth graders causing a ruckus at my dentist’s waiting room, they were impressed.
“He is a hero to us all,” one of them nodded sagely.
Of course, the story I told them never actually happened.
But when you have a headache, and you need an immediate cessation of water-gun squirting activities initiated around you by other people’s brats, you are allowed to take certain liberties.
Besides, these sixth graders didn’t seem particularly well-read to me, so I doubt they noticed my misappropriation of Mark Twain and something I read on Twitter.
But their reaction is worth studying for all marketers:
It’s all about identity.
And identity is all about how you see yourself. It’s how you want others to perceive you.
The boy became their hero because his response to the headmistress appealed to the rebellious streak in them.
Those six graders want to be seen as “bad boys”. Hanging out with a real-life bad boy would make them appear rebellious by association. So they’d be happy to pay a premium to hang out with him, like risking detention.
Customers are the same way.
For example, companies like Harley Davidson, and Apple, and Disney win over customers by identifying with them.
Notice I said customers not buyers - as in: fans who make it their custom to buy from them.
Their products aren’t just commodities with a billion competing alternatives which all do the same thing. They are symbols you purchase to showcase who you are.
If you are in a competitive market with a lot of me-too offers, it’s hard to answer the question:
Why you - and not someone else?
That’s why your marketing should give customers the opportunity to say, “This is how I’m different from other people. And this product helps me be that way.”
But how do you communicate THAT to prospects?
Emails are the simpler way to establish an identity for your business.
They’re free, they’re quick, and over time they have a cumulative effect. They sculpt your brand’s identity.
Like with everything else in life, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
If you do it right, every email you send will show prospects why they should ally with you, and not somebody else.
If you do it wrong, you’ll sound like a pretender. (And fyi, no customer wants to buy a symbol that says “I’m fake.”)
But worry not. Building an authentic brand identity isn’t rocket science. It’s an inevitable byproduct of writing the kind of soft sell emails I teach in Email Prodigy..
For more on this, go here and explore.
PS: This post is Day 4 of the Pivot Experiment. I’m taking the same story and spinning it into a completely different sales email every day this week, so you can learn by example how to link your stories to what you’re selling. Invite a friend to watch along with you. 🙂