You may have noticed that these little missives are often, erm, not so little. So, this week I’m going to try something I do in my forthcoming book: I’m going to give you the Red Thread of the post right up front as a wee summary. If you want to know more, the detail comes after. See what you think—and let me know!
GOAL: Get people interested in your organization or company (or you!)—ideally, interested enough to make action irresistible.
PROBLEM: What you find irresistible about your organization isn’t always what others do. When your messaging leads with your interests and expertise, your audience often loses interest.
TRUTH: Irresistibility is in the eye of the beholder.
CHANGE: Translate what’s irresistible to you into what’s most irresistible to your audience—the wants, beliefs, and values they already have (and which guide the most irresistible of all sources of action: the stories they tell themselves about what they do, and why).
- Answer “Who are you for?“ Define your audience as narrowly and clearly as possible (so you can more easily identify what they’d find interesting and irresistible.)
- Define the current question you help your audience achieve. What do they want to know but don’t know yet?
- Build the story—in their language!—they’ll tell themselves about why your organization is the answer to their question. This is the Red Thread®.
So what does that all mean?
Well, there’s this thing that happens when we start talking or writing about the things we know and love well: we start talking about why we love those things. That isn’t the problem though. It really isn’t even a problem that we start talking about why we find those things so interesting and irresistible.
The challenge is, that person you’re talking to doesn’t have the same knowledge of those things you do (this is called the “Curse of Knowledge“). And yes, I get it, the whole point of you telling them why you find something irresistible is to get your audience to find it irresistible, too…
But that’s not how it actually works. You know, science-like. You don’t decide something is irresistible by being told it is. Something becomes irresistible when you decide it is.
That’s a problem when your job is—in whole or in part—to get people to know and love your organization enough to act in some way in support of it (investing in, buying from, working for, etc.).
Because your real job? To be a translator. Not just of words—your organization’s and your industry’s insider language—but also of ideas. What’s behind those words.
If you want to make your organization irresistible, you have to make the idea of the organization irresistible…and that starts with what your audience already finds irresistible…and that’s NOT you…yet.
To do that, you need to know three things:
- who your audience is (who you want them to be), because that allows you to know…
- what they actually care about now, which you can then put into
- a reliable way to translate what you care about into what they care about (hint: this is the Red Thread this site is all about)
A warning: there’s a chance that when you do that work you’ll discover the only fatal flaw for messaging—that your organization doesn’t actually answer a current question of your audience. Admittedly, this is more often an issue with the early-stage startups I sometimes work with than with more established companies. But even established companies can decide to create a product or service before they’ve done the work of making sure there’s a market need for it. In those cases, just remember: a product problem can’t be solved with a marketing message.
But, assuming your organization does provide something inherently irresistible to your audience or the world, then your task is to do everything you can to be the best “English-to-English” translator you can be.
That starts, as the Red Thread does, with understanding and using the one “language” that everyone’s brain recognizes and understands—the universal language of story. When you build your organization’s case through the lens of the case your audience would build for your organization, you’ve built the most irresistible case of all: the story your clients and customers will tell themselves, both to themselves and to others.If you want to make your organization irresistible, you have to make the idea of the organization irresistible. And that starts with what the audience already finds irresistible. Click To Tweet
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