The unconscious bias of business 

I'm on a call with Company A asking me to write a sales email for the pre-launch of a course.

"Can you tell me a bit more about your audience?"  I ask.

There's a long pause.

"We don't have any particular audience. So if you can just write to a broad market."

"Oh" I say. "Do you know what problems your market wants to be solved?"

There's another pause. 

"Not really. We just think they'll love what we have to offer."

"And what would you consider a success for your email campaign?"

"Normally our emails have a 13-17% open rate."

This time, I'm the one who pauses, "Can you repeat that?" I say, thinking I must have heard wrong.

"It could be closer to 18%, we consider anything above 15% a good rate." 

A few days after I submitted my copy for their review, I receive an email asking for a revision. 

In the notes are the words, "We like what you wrote but could you use this template." and they attach a couple of their previous emails and a standard format. 

The headline is dull, the email is long, and it just talks about the company. I don't even bother to read it. It's clear this company doesn't understand their customer or its business.

One of the biggest problems facing business marketing is being stuck doing the same things just because it's something they've always done. 

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Anon

I write back to Company A, sending a revised copy - I politely decline to use their template with the words. "Let's try and aim for a 45% open rate."

Hi I'm Vivien

I was born and raised in London, England. My parents immigrated from Singapore. No one looked like us - but us, and as a young child, I wanted to blend in rather than stand out, so, I became a very quiet child and was quickly labelled as "shy".


It wasn't because I didn't have anything to say - I just wasn't as loud as those around me. People would actually introduce me as... "Vivien – Oh she’s shy.” They would speak over me and never ask for my opinion. 

And so I would surround myself with storybooks and would write as a way to communicate my ideas.


Lesson 1: Define your narrative: It was my brother, Kevin, who told me to always introduce myself before anyone else had the chance to - that way I got to define how I wanted to be remembered. To prove his point on my first day at university, he knocked on every door in my dorm and made me stand there and introduce myself to everyone!

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Skip forward and after years in marketing, I moved to a new country and started my own consultancy.  I tried every marketing trick I knew, but, let's be honest, building an established brand is a lot easier than building from scratch.

I didn't have a system.

I didn't have a strategy.

I got a few clients but most of them would ask if I could "change my services." I felt the pressure to constantly jump through hoops trying to get customers to say Yes.  I was burning out fast, and quickly losing my business identity. 

Lesson 2: Make your customer the hero of your content. One of the most successful event campaigns I ever created was for an I.T provider promoting a conference. I spent weeks brainstorming a narrative.  From the first email invitation to the actual event, each point of communication followed a story that centred around emerging technology and the effect it would have on these I.T providers.  My emails hit 78% open rates and we got over 85% attendance.  Could this be the type of strategy I needed?

I began to study communication psychology, persuasive writing and copywriting. I dissected the good, the bad and the ugly brand stories, adverts, presentations, speeches, and pitches looking for the secret sauce. And I began to see a pattern.

Stories - more importantly, strategic stories that created micro-commitments for my audience to easily say yes to.

By aligning my customers' narrative and structuring my content I began to see results. Clients reached out - qualifying themselves. 

With the right framework, I've trained Creative and non-Creative, forward-thinking Business Leaders, Executives, and Entrepreneurs, to become successful story-driven communicators. 

When you're ready.....