Everything is relationship.
People want to do business, work with and for people they like and trust.
We are meaning making machines. Meaning is created from the stories we tell.
Telling the right story drives your mission by relating your virtues and vision and how your value helps others accomplish who they want to become.
We can’t create trust without delivering or reputation without repetition. We can’t create connection without curiosity or co-create without collaboration.
Businesses and lives are created by building relationships: bringing people together engaged around a shared purpose doing work they are proud to show up for every day.
Their trust in each other is deepened as they develop their story, meeting and overcoming the unique challenges each organisation faces as they serve their clients.
Here are some stories I’ve been a part of creating as I’ve helped the people in organisations deepen their connection with their people.
Every seven years Australia holds a census. The collected data then needs to be processed and analysed. A special project data centre is set up to complete this task. Two thousand data processors are hired for 12-18 month. They are multicultural, many with poor english and doing dull repetitive work. In the past staff engagement and retention was really challenging for the Centre’s Director working to a tight deadline. My brief was to create a communications program to create a connection between them and their work and with each other.
I worked closely with the centre director and his team to establish a program that would connect the various teams within the centre and also connect the teams to the macro and micro purpose of the work they were doing and how these results would later be applied in making governmental and business decisions and their effects on peoples’ lives.
We created various communication materials to address the issues involving the staff and management. Some examples are a community newsletter with voluntary contributions from all staff. We began with 8 pages, our final issue was 48 pages with cross cultural contributions. We had two poster programmes with characters communicating quirky facts that emerged from the data and another with more serious information. We built a jigsaw sculpture to track stages of completion progress where each team had pieces to add as their work was completed. The various pieces lent themselves to creating popular live events within the centre including each culture celebrating their national days.
An unprecedented 93% staff retention rate and considered the most successful Data Processing Centre to date.
‘Eilish was a pleasure to work with. We initially approached her to design some posters. From our first conversation we were inspired by her generosity in sharing her ideas and knew she was what we needed and would help us do so much more. Her insights, creativity and determination to consistently deliver a great product was greatly appreciated. We loved working with her. We were stunned by how much the people in the centre wanted to participate and contribute. It made what was traditionally a really hard project a pleasurable and fun experience. I could not recommend her highly enough.’
Coralee Moss, Director’s Assistant
Five years of successful growth and on the brink of expansion to a national brand the leadership team at Fox Wardrobes wanted to refine their brand storytelling. Their goal was to prepare their business to go national and to do that they first wanted to understand how they could improve how they communicated the essence of the brand to clients and team members so they could manage this transition gracefully while maintaining their core values.
It was a family business built on skills, passion and a perceived gap in the market that led the owner, Chris to establish the wardrobe business as an extension of their bespoke kitchen design and manufacturing business. When we met he was working long and hard with a team of 30 people. He had happy customers, a good team and a vision that he could do it better and bigger. He wanted to get clear on his value proposition and his ideal customer so he could tell his brand story better.
The perceived problem was communicating the value proposition and identifying their ideal clients. Through the work we realised while they had several clients, there was one client who stood head and shoulders above the rest and was the client who created more clients. We also identified the difference between the product they were selling and the value they were delivering. Throughout the process Eilish worked closely with Chris on his personal leadership with the introduction of a daily practice and mentoring.
We focused the story on the value that the product delivered for the ideal client. This simplified everything including the product and its production. This focus was quickly reflected in their business results. Leads to sales conversion rose from 35% to 85% within 2 months is consistently 90%+. By identifying the ideal client and focusing on the experience the average sale rose by 300%. The bonus is that their ideal client creates more clients by repeatedly telling the story of their experience within their network.
‘It was better than an MBA. The program completely delivered but the daily practice and personal leadership was the real surprise and a total game changer. I now have more time than I had before and I do a 2 hour practice each day. I used to shake if I wasn’t at work by 6:30 am. Now I often don’t go in until 10 am. All my relationships are better, seriously better. My sales targets are now a ‘Can we?’ game. My conversion went from 35% to 85% within 2 months and is now consistently 90%+ and average sale tripled. It’s not if we’ll sell but how much each sale will be. Our ideal client loves us and refers us. And there’s more. Just do it.’
Chris Volpe, Red Fox, Fox Wardrobes
People build swimming pools they use for the summer months. They are expensive to install and also maintain. They perceive heating the pool to be too expensive. Demand Solar needed help communicating their solar heating system in a way that made it a no brainer to pool owners.
When people design and develop products they are often so close to them they focus in the features and forget the benefits. I worked with director and sales team to craft a story that reflected the research results. We created a narrative and tone of voice that reflected these benefits to flow through all their marketing communications online and off. The work included a visual identity, website and supporting brand collateral.
We repositioned the brand with a new brand story and visual identity communicating its value clearly and simply. Double your pool season. Swim for 8 months instead of 4. We reinforced this message in all materials and of course backed it up with stats and charts. Demand Solar doubled their sales the next year.
‘Eilish I’ve been meaning to call you for some time to thank you for the depth and elegance of your work. I didn’t realise how good it was at the time. People still comment and ask all the time. They love the visuals and the sales people say the clarity of the message makes their job so much easier.’
Doug Mills, CEO, Demand Solar
Meenans was a 50 year old family owned boutique whiskey and wine importer, wholesaler and retailer in Dunedin, New Zealand. They were well respected in their local area and nationally. Deregulation meant the supermarkets could now stock and sell wine which was cutting into their market. Also cheap cut price stores such as liquor king and liquorland were strong competition.
It’s always a delight when you are presented with a great product and great people. Meenans had a superb location in the middle of Dunedin’s university area. It had drive on drive off access. they brewed their own beer, distilled their own gin and offered a superior range and knowledge of their product. The owner spoke eloquently and fluently on all things wine and whiskey on the local radio each week.
The brand needed to be repositioned as a premium offering in a sea of normal. The story of the company’s origin and legacy was crafted and shared on their website and throughout the store. We created a visual journey with story boards throughout their bodega style store locating and explaining the products origins with suggestions of how to best match and enjoy them. We created product info cards to give the purchasers a story to tell. We rated the wines and held tastings and asked for their feedback. Packaging for the retail store located them locally, wholesale packaging nationally. The integrated narrative established Meenans as a special destination to find what you couldn’t get ‘everywhere’.
‘It’s hard when you’re running a business to take the time to see it how others might. Eilish helped us take a bird’s eye view and reflect on what we had built and how we could differentiate ourselves in an increasingly competitive market. It was refreshing to see our story take shape and see the value we were offering was appreciated .’
John Eckhoff, CEO, Meenan’s Wines and Liquor
Suzanne Grae, part of the Sussan Group a ladies fashion retail store at the lower end of the market but with a loyal following with 180 shops throughout Australia.
Suzanne Grae was ready for a complete brand refresh. Research showed its market were 35+ and purchased multiple pieces at once. The market perception was it was a pile them high and watch them fly store or where your grandmother shopped. The product was excellent value for its price. I worked with retail designers and established a new brand narrative.
We developed a fresh and clean backdrop for the products, a space and a narrative that inspired the front line retail staff and those who were driving the brand from behind the scenes. The narrative was driven from unearthing and differentiating its culture from the other brands in the groups and other brands in the market.
Suzanne Grae had been underperforming and with the relaunch of the brand its turnover increased by 750% and within a year the group expanded to 200 stores.
‘Working with Eilish challenges you to dive deeper to explore and discover your brand’s meaning to make your best work better. She’s an expert in brand and storytelling, but she also helps you understand who you are to lead your brand and team better and how this informs your why. What emerges is a stronger and deeper conviction in the truth of the story being told. This is why her work stands the test of time.’
Suzanne Scozzi, CEO, Suzanne Grae