So you’ve just landed on planet Earth from deep space, smack in the middle of the LA metro-plex, not far from Mel’s Diner. No, you haven’t decided to get back in your flying saucer immediately and beat a hasty retreat back to the home world (though I cant’t say I’d blame you if you did). Instead, you stashed your spaceship up by the Hollywood Bowl and now you’re wandering Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. You’re intrigued by all the goings on. These humans sure like their bright lights, flashy colors, and interesting costumes.
You don’t know what to make of the billboards and all the storefronts announcing this and that. Are these images of things for sale, people of importance, or something altogether different?
You walk up to a man on the street, tap him on the shoulder, and ask him to explain it all.
If you were the alien, what would you ask? What would your first impressions be? Would you have any kind of concept of advertising, marketing, branding?
If you were the man on the street—assuming the alien looked just like us and didn’t have antennae, three eyes, and a frontal lobe the size of a bowling ball—what would you say. How would you describe the idea of marketing to someone totally clueless to it all? How would you describe what a brand is, and what it represents? How would you deliver the message?
Sometimes in life we assume that the people with whom we are trying to communicate something—anything—have some pre-knowledge of what it is we are trying to convey. So we take shortcuts. We assume that the recipients of our messages will understand where we are coming from and where we’re trying to go. We don’t bother to fill in around the edges of our messages or our stories to make them more compelling and more complete.
Personally, I think these kinds of assumptions are the exact reasons why our society has a tough time just getting along at times. We assume too much. We assume that others hear that little voice in our heads or see the images we see when we’re thinking about something—so we fail to articulate fully what it is we’re trying to say, figuring the other person is hearing and seeing exactly what we are. And we always don’t consider the person on the receiving end of our messages: what’s in it for them?
When delivering a message, whether it’s as a parent to a child, a manager to an employee, teacher to a student, or a marketer to potential customers, don’t assume the intended recipient of your message will hear the same thing you do or be receptive to your message in the way you think he or she will.
- Know your audience and know what motivates them. Craft your message to appeal to the listener’s pain points, not yours. Why is he or she in a conversation with you? What is the person looking to get from you that he/she can’t get elsewhere? If your audience has a vested interest in “hearing” what you have to say, chances are they’ll be more attentive.
- Make it relatable. If listeners can relate to what you’re saying, or better yet, actually picture themselves in the situation or scenario you’re describing, they are more apt to listen and comprehend. A story or anecdote (amusing or touching, of course) is always a good way to make a message more pertinent.
- Be provocative. Sometimes we’re too passive in our communications. We just lay it out there—ho hum—with little pizzazz, not wanting to push the envelope or raise any hackles. Problem is, boring messages and boring content are just that . . . boring. Grab your audience’s attention. What do they react to? Say something outlandish or counterintuitive or that you know will trigger them. Then, once you have their attention, reel them back in to the fold with a story that soothes and addresses their pain points.
- Tell it simply. One of my favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill. It goes something like this, “Use words everyone understands so that everyone will understand what you’re saying.” You don’t need to impress with $5 words when 50-centers will do. In addition to using common vocabulary, use common references. Simple messages, even for the most complex issues, are often best.
- Highlight what’s unique about you/ your message. When something differs from the norm, it becomes more memorable, for better or worse. Of course, you want your message to be viewed favorably, so take a look at what sets you apart from others in a positive light. Emphasize it if doing so makes sense for members of your target audience and their pain points.
- Make a request. Most of us communicate because we want to see some sort of result or change. Tell your story, make your case . . . and then ask. You won’t get the results you want unless you do.
Communicating is more than just talking, no matter who your audience is or the context—whether it’s business or personal. When a message is not targeted, relatable, simple, unique, or of interest to the recipient it won’t be well received or memorable. Make it so!
Message delivered. Time to beam me up . . .
Paul June is King Monkey of BARREL O'MONKEYZ, a San Diego-based strategic marketing agency specializing in Sports and Active Lifestyle markets. We serve as a seasoned, outsourced marketing team for companies looking to ramp up sales and launch new products. Our barrel is full of talent and creative arms ready to prove we don’t just monkey around!