The Stories Hiding in Plain Sight
What do you do when your message starts to feel flat? First of all, don’t worry, because it’s a perfectly normal feeling, especially if all you’re working with is a tagline or a positioning statement. Those things often focus on surface details and don’t give us a roadmap for what we could potentially talk about. However, when we think more deeply about what we can offer, then we have more detail we can add. The more dimension we can see, the more detail we can provide.
How do you put that into practice? Start by looking out your window. Have you ever noticed how sometimes you just stop seeing a view you stare at all the time? The same thing happens with our messages. We often stare at the same thing for so long that we don’t realize how many individual details make up that message. Even if the frame doesn’t change, there’s still depth and dimensionality that you can find to tell any number of stories.
The trick to finding variety in your message is to focus on the details, which come from all the different ways you approach the Red Thread of your work, life, or organization. You can find a new perspective by thinking through those questions of Who are you for?, Why?, What now?, and How?. You can also talk about talk about the various Goals that your different audiences might have; the different ways to validate those goals or the barriers that they’re looking at which add up to different Problems. With the Change, you can go for a high-level approach, or break it down into very tactical descriptions.
No matter what you do, remind yourself that the view you’ve been staring at has rich depth and dimensionality if you start asking the right questions.
– It’s okay, you can admit it. There’s probably some times where you get really, really bored of the message or the platform you’re putting out there. Whether you’re doing it for yourself or for an organization, there are certain times when it just feels like what you’re putting out there is really flat. So how do we add variety to the message or the platform? Well the good news, the answer is right outside your window. I’m Tamsen Webster of TamsenWebster.com and this is Find the Red Thread.
First thing, don’t worry, it is completely normal to occasionally get really sick and tired of the message that you’re putting out there. It happens to all of us. It’s particularly easy to happen if all we’re working with is a tagline or maybe just slightly better, a positioning statement. That’s because those things often focus on surface details and they don’t give us a roadmap for what we could potentially talk about. But when we really think more deeply about what we can offer then we have more detail we can add.
The way to think about this is, the more dimension we can see, the more detail we can provide. Great, fine Tamsen, what does that mean? Well, here I want you to look out your window. And what I mean by looking out your window is picture a view that you see all the time. You see the view I see all the time right outside behind me and that’s a view of the Boston skyline. But yours may look different. It may be your view from your window, it may be a standard view from your car as you’re commuting, maybe it’s the view to your backyard as you’re standing over the kitchen sink. Either way, haven’t you noticed that sometimes you just stop seeing the view?
This is exactly the same thing that happens to our messages. And yet, if you really think about it there’s any number of individual little stories that can still be told even if the frame doesn’t change. So if I’m describing to you what’s happening outside my window, if I’ve gotten to that one dimensional place with my message, I can say, “Oh that’s Boston.” But if I really start to look at it again and start to look at all the dimensions that are existing within that stationary view I can start to pick up more detail.
I could for instance tell you about all the different buildings that are there. I could tell you how certain buildings have shown up in the last few years, where other ones weren’t. I could talk about the people who move through it. I could focus on the color. I could focus on the story of one particular building. I could focus on how that view looks different from morning to night.
This is all metaphorical of course but it can relate to the same thing that’s happening with your message. Because just like I could describe the buildings, you could talk about the building blocks. What are some of the core components of your business, your organization, your tool, your service that people may not be thinking about, or that they may not be thinking about all the time?
You could tell the story of people using some of your products and services. You could talk about something historic, how things have changed over time. You could focus on specific aspects of certain details about why you do what you do.
And where do those details come from? Well those details come from all the different ways you get to the Red Thread of your work and your life, or the Red Thread of your organization. One of the first places is to think through those questions of “Who are you for?”, and “What are the universal questions that they want answers to?” How could you describe the view of your message through the lens of Why? What are all the Whys sitting out there? What are all the What Nows? What are all the Ideas? What are the core beliefs and values? Could you put a number of What Now messages out there? And what How messages are there? Which ones haven’t you told yet?
Now by and large, you probably have told a lot of how messages, but I’m going to guess that the What Nows and Whys are a little bit neglected. You can also back up and look at the individual pieces of the Red Thread. Let’s talk about the various Goals that all different segments of your market might have. And then think through all the different ways that they may express that. You can talk about different ways to validate those goals, different barriers that they’re looking at. And all of that adds up to different Problems. Are there different ways to characterize the problems that you solve? Or are there different problems that you solve for different groups of people?
You do the same thing with your Ideas. You can do the same thing with the Change. You can focus the Change on a high-level approach. You can also focus it on very tactical descriptions of why your products or services are different fundamentally than other peoples. But the view outside that window, the view and dimension possible in your message, is much richer than we often give it credit for.
So next time you’re trying to figure out, “Well gosh, what do I write about now, what do I talk about now,” go check out the view. I’m Tamsen Webster of TamsenWebster.com, and this is Find the Red Thread.