Meaning in Your Message that Drives Change
When we’re trying to get someone to make a change, there are certain fundamental questions that they need to be answered in your message before they will give it a try.
When something is not working in your message, try going through the steps of the Red Thread. Is the problem convincing? Is there an idea to put the problem in perspective and set up the change?
In this episode of the Red Thread, Tamsen explains why presenting a problem and a solution aren’t enough. You need to make sure that what comes in between makes sense because meaning drives change.
There’s something missing from your message. What is it? Let’s take a trip to your doctor’s office to find out. I’m Tamsen Webster from tamsenwebster.com, and this is Find the Red Thread.
When we’re trying to create change, when we’re trying to get people to think or do something differently, there’s something we have to understand. In order for them to make that change, there are certain fundamental questions that they have to have answered before they will. The problem is most of us don’t realize what those questions are. And if we don’t, then we’re not going to include the answers to those questions in the messages that we put out. And that can kill any potential change before it ever gets started.
Now, what are these questions, and how do we figure out what they are? Well, here’s how I want to think about it: imagine you go to your doctor’s office for just a regular physical checkup. And the first thing the doctor says to you when you walk in is, “so when do you want to schedule surgery?” Now, that would create some questions in your mind, would it not? Things like “what kind of surgery?” and “why do I need surgery?”
And it wouldn’t matter how much additional information that the doctor provided just about the surgery to change the mind. Because if it was just about the surgery, how it’s the best kind of surgery, how he’s incredibly qualified to give it, what his specific approach to that surgery is, it still doesn’t answer those fundamental questions of “why do I need it?” and “why do I need it now?”
And yet, think about it. Think about how many times you have seen or been the victim of or even created the message where the first thing that you tell people is, “here’s the solution to a problem I haven’t even told you yet. But here’s the thing I want you to do. It’s the best thing. It’s going to give you all these other features and benefits. I’m the best one to do it.” But it’s still the same thing as walking in and saying, “hey, when do you want to schedule surgery?” It doesn’t work. So even though we know we need to answer this fundamental question of, “okay, what is the change you’re asking me to make?” there are other questions that precede it.
Now, plenty of folks will tell you, “well, then, we need to make sure that every message, every pitch deck, every advertising message, every marketing message, every description about yourself even includes a problem that establishes why that change is necessary.” Let’s think through that, though, too. You walk into your doctor’s office. She stands behind you, and she says, “you have a spot on your back, when would you like to schedule surgery?” You still have some questions.
So you’ve established by saying there’s a spot on your back that there’s some fundamental reason why the surgery is necessary. But you still haven’t answered all the questions, have you? That’s why problem and solution alone are not enough. We have to make sure that there is that extra thing that comes in between. And that extra thing that comes in between has to make sense.
Remember, meaning drives change, and we can’t get to meaning unless something makes sense. Let me give an example. So that doctor says: “You have a spot on your back. It’s lint! When do you want to schedule surgery?”
You’re going to say, “mm-mm, no, that doesn’t make any sense. I’m not going to do it.” Because once you understand why the problem is such a problem, once there’s a diagnosis for the symptom, once there is an idea for the problem, then it indicates whether or not you will accept the answer of the change. If there’s a spot on my back, why would I need surgery? There you go. Now, what do I need to understand about it now? Ah, it looks precancerous. Then I’m willing to accept that some level of surgery might be required in order to fix it. We need problem, idea, change.
So what does all this mean for you? When something’s not working about your message, one of the first things you can do is go and see if you’re missing one of those key parts. Are you missing the problem? Are you missing an idea that explains why the problem is such a problem? One that creates the receptivity to the change?
The other thing you can look for is if those things are all present, are they out of order? Because while you might be able to eventually convince someone that they need surgery after you’ve gone back and explained everything else, it’s a lot harder to do it that way.
So the next time you’re wondering, why isn’t the change I’m trying to create working? Go to your doctor’s office and find the Red Thread.