Today is all about pudding. As in the English-language idiom, “the proof is in the pudding.” That phrase is actually a shortening of the full one, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
What does it mean? According to Merriam-Webster (no relation), it means:
The real worth, success, or effectiveness of something can only be determined by putting it to the test by trying or using it, appearances and promises aside—just as the best test of a pudding is to eat it.
And what does this have to do with you? It all comes down to making sure you can deliver on whatever you use to get your audience’s attention, the topic of the latest episode of Message in a Minute:
Getting attention with a Goal
Here’s the video’s Red Thread:
- GOAL: Find a Goal question—a question your audience is asking for which your idea is an answer—that gets the audience’s attention.
- PROBLEM: When choosing that question, the temptation to focus on the aspirational more than the actual can be very strong. In other words, we often choose a question we wish the audience were asking, or one that offers an outcome we wish our idea could provide, rather than what they actually want or what we can actually deliver.
- TRUTH: But audiences judge on effectiveness not (just) attractiveness. However much you, or the audience, may wish for something more, the ultimate test for an idea comes down to its ability to actually do what the audience needs it to do.
- CHANGE: So, make sure your idea meets the expectations your message sets. Anchor your idea at the intersection of attractiveness (what they want) and effectiveness (what you can actually do, and do well).
- ACTION: To do that, find the intersection between:
- Something your audience is already asking.
- A question you can actually answer.
- GOAL REVISITED: Once you deliver well on what the audience actually wants you open up the possibility of something more—you move your audience from actual to aspirational. Even better? By anchoring in what you can actually do well right now, you’re operating from the strongest possible position to not just get your audience’s attention, but keep it, as well.
How to apply it
My Grandma Ivey made the most amazing carrot cake with a maple cream cheese frosting. For me, it set the standard (and still does) against which I judge all other carrot cakes.
And I have to tell you, most of them just can’t compare.
But whenever I see carrot cake on a dessert menu, or sitting in a glass display case with its creamy white frosting all aswirl, I want it. Or rather, I want it to be as good as my Grandma Ivey’s carrot cake is. That’s aspirational. It’s something I wish it were.
Sometimes, a restaurant or bakery will claim to have the “best” carrot cake. Or that it’s their special homemade recipe—some other person’s grandma may even be involved. In some cases, they may believe their version of the cake is the best. Other times, they’re just adding all those adjectives because they wish it were the best. Or they want you to think it’s the best so you’ll order it.
That’s aspirational, too.
Messages can be like that. Your audience is always going to be attracted to something they know they want, just like I’m usually attracted to seeing carrot cake on offer.
You, being the thoughtful message maker that you are, likely know that already. So, as I said, earlier, the temptation to make your idea look as attractive as possible is very, very strong. It’s usually why we load our messages with big sweeping promises of what our idea can do.
But what happens when your idea can’t deliver on that? Your audience is as disappointed as I inevitably am in the vast majority of carrot cakes out there. You may get someone’s attention with the attractiveness of your message, but you keep attention (and get advocates!) based on your idea’s effectiveness.
And that brings us back to pudding, especially if we start to feel all British and use “pudding” to refer to a sweet treat.
As the old saying goes, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” It doesn’t matter how good that carrot cake—or your message—may look or sound. If it doesn’t actually taste good, all that positive attention turns negative. Not only did you not meet their expectations, now your audience suspects you of misleading them in the first place.
And nobody wants that.
The answer is both clear, and simple: match your message to your ability to deliver on it. You may not feel that it’s as “sexy” or attractive as it could be, but you’ll at least be as effective as you can be in delivering on it.
I’d also argue that for those in your audience that don’t yet have an effective answer to their question, there’s not much that’s more attractive than knowing that someone out there—you—can actually solve their problem. So, you know, there’s that.
If you need help figuring out where that intersection lies, try this simple, three-step exercise:
- List all the questions your audience is asking.
- Cross out any question you can’t legitimately answer with your idea.
- Of the questions that are left, choose the one you think your audience would be most eager to have answered.
When you anchor your message there, you’ll have found that magical, attention-keeping intersection between attractiveness and effectiveness.The message is both clear, and simple: match your message to your ability to deliver on it. Click To Tweet
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For any message to create the curiosity you need, it’s key to anchor it in a question your audience is already asking. But how can you make sure that goal question is getting the attention it and your idea deserves? That’s what we’re talking about on this episode of Message in a Minute. I’m your host, Tamsen Webster of Tamsenwebster.com.
Sometimes when we’re choosing these questions, we tend to go for things that are a bit more aspirational than actual. And what I mean by that is that we choose questions that we wish the audience were asking so that they could somehow magically connect them to us. But audiences don’t judge just on attractiveness, they judge based on effectiveness as well, in other words, on your ability to actually do the thing that you attracted their attention with.
So when you’re trying to choose this question, look for the intersection between attractiveness to them and effectiveness yours. Find that intersection between something that the audience is already asking and something that you already do. Not only will you give them a strong and effective answer for that thing that they’re looking for, and maybe just paint a picture of what’s possible next, but you are going to be operating from the strongest possible position on your ability to deliver that strong idea and that strong answer that they’re looking for.
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