A Focus on Your Audience’s Perspective
Because the Red Thread is critical to what you’re trying to say, it’s critical that you understand who they are first. That’s why we need to start with a simple question: who are you for?
Each person has a different perspective, even if their demographics match on paper. Why is this important? Two people who match on paper might each have a completely different perspective about the change you’re trying to get someone to make.
Your audience’s awareness of the change you want them to make, and their readiness to make that change, will have a dramatic impact on the goal, the problem, and the idea that you use to build your Red Thread. Tamsen explains why we need to think beyond demographics and look much more closely at mindset and perspective.
As we’ve talked about before, the Red Thread can be your quick, meaningful answer to the question: what’s this all about? In order to get to that quick answer, we have to find the pieces of the Red Thread. The goal, the problem, the idea, the change, and the action. Those are the things that we combine to create that quick answer. But there’s one question we need to ask before we can find those pieces. Who are you for?
I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com and that’s what we’re talking about on this episode of Find the Red Thread.
Because the Red Thread is critical for people understanding what it is you’re trying to say, it’s critical that we understand those people and their perspective first. That’s why this question, “who are you for?”, is where we have to start. And yes, I know, technically it’s whom are you for, but, thankfully, the rules of spoken English are a little flexible.
Now, the problem is that these people that we have to understand, we tend to think of them as one big block. Like how we talk about millennials as if they were some sort of colony organism all living in an entitled hive. We know that’s not true. And we know that even if people’s demographics look similar on paper, that they’re going to have a different perspective on the change that we’re asking them to make. That’s a key part to understand. Because depending on where they sit, what those mindsets are, your message is going to sound very different.
Now, there are two big dimensions to understand about mindset. One is awareness, and one is readiness. Awareness is how aware is somebody of the option that you’re going to present. How aware are they of the change as something that they could do to reach their goal?
The other dimension is one of readiness. If they are aware, or when they become aware, how ready or willing are they to make that change? Are they going to be, “Yes, I’m all in.” Are they going to be eager? Are they going to be resistant or skeptical? Those two different dimensions have a huge effect on your answers to the goal, the problem, and the idea that all lead to the change that you want.
Now, let me use an example that goes way back to my days as a Weight Watchers leader. Let’s say that the change I want people to make is to add more walking to their activity during the week. Now, let’s say we have two different people. We’ve got one person who is aware of the activity and its benefits. And they’re eager to add more into their life. Their goal is going to be something like, “I want to achieve better weight loss with more activity. But I struggle with how to do it in a way that fits with my life.”
Now, if we talk about a second person. Somebody who’s resistant or skeptical, they’re going to have a very different goal. I can’t just walk in and say, “Hey, walk more.” ‘Cause they’re going to come back and say, “Dude, I can’t even figure out what to eat, I’m already really stressed about that.”
So that skeptical person’s going to have a different goal. Their goal is going to be something more like, “how can I relieve the pressure off of these food choices that are stressing me out?”
From there, your answers to the questions are going to be very different. So for your ready and willing person, the person that wanted to understand how to add activity into their daily life. Their problem might be that they think only high-intensity exercise is good exercise. So this new realization that you need to present is that even moderate activity can make a big boost in their weight loss efforts.
For the resistant person, whose goal was just how can I be less stressed about what I eat. The problem might be that they are missing exercise’s component in the weight loss equation. That’s their problem. So the idea, the piece of information they have to hear before they’d be receptive of the change is going to have to be a little bit more basic. About how exercise can potentially increase their metabolism, which would then reduce the pressure on their food choices.
Where you start, your question about who are you for, has a dramatic impact on the goal, the problem, and the idea. Even though in both cases the change that you wanted to get people to was the same. This is why you have to think about that before you figure out your Red Thread. And even though the example I used was personal and one-on-one, the same concepts apply even to market-level messages.
We need to think beyond demographics and think much more along the lines of mindset. And you can use that framing I was using to help make that question answering a little bit easier. Think to yourself, “who am I for? I’m for people who want X, but struggle with Y.”
That’ll get you much more quickly to the right goal and the right problem. Because you want your message to be as effective as possible, we really need to understand — who is it for?
So the next time you’re working to find your Red Thread, start there. This is Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. Now find your Red Thread.