While we’re in days that all seem to blur together, the things that are different are what stand out. It’s partly why, unlike in The Time Before, I try not to do ANY work on the weekends, and why my husband, Tom, and I have closely observed Cocktail Hour (and yes, these days it deserves Full Capitalization). As Tom shared on Facebook, even if we’re going with a non-alcoholic drink, it marks that something is different.
We humans are wired to notice, and respond, to things that are different. It’s kept us safe for millennia. When suddenly the tall grass starts turning into tiger stripes, we know it’s time to act. You know, because there’s a TIGER there.
So the temptation, right now, when everything is different, is to do something different, too. For you to keep your business safe, you want and need for people to notice you, right?
The problem is when everyone does the same thing your “different” starts to look the same.
All messages and ideas are under pressure right now. You’re likely experiencing, in real time, just how strong your message is. Was it strong enough to have built a pipeline before now? Is it strong enough to still bring in leads? When the pace of life and business starts to pick up again, will it be strong enough to stand out?
But here’s what is good: no matter where your message is right now, you can make it stronger. And critically, you can make it stronger without making you, your business, and your brand weaker.
How? By remembering that what got you here will get you there. The muscles you use the most are the strongest (in most humans: their legs), and that’s true metaphorically, as well. What you’ve done the most, what you do the most, the audience you served the most, what you’ve talked about the most — that’s where your strength lies.
If you’ve ever had to write with your non-dominant hand, it probably looked like crap. Illegible to anyone but you. And maybe even to you. That’s because there’s no strength there, neither in the muscles nor in the wiring of your brain.
Why would anything be different with your message? There’s no strength in a fundamentally new message. There can’t be. If you are a marketer, you can’t suddenly become a (true) expert in finance, though I’ve seen plenty of folks try lately. If you are a scientist, you can’t suddenly become a virtual presentation expert.
I’m not saying you can’t ever become those things, but you can’t become them quickly. You have the build the muscle. You have to build the expertise. You have to build trust.
And that brings me back to something I mentioned last week: that the first test of your message’s strength is relevance. It has to solve a problem your audience currently has. But there’s another side to relevance: how relevant it is to you and what you’ve done before. That’s going to matter over time. If people continue to want answers, they’re going to go to the people who have those answers.
The people most likely to have those answers at the ready or the people who already know them… not the people who are essentially one chapter ahead in the book. And if you choose to be the person one chapter ahead? What’s happening to the message you had been building? Is it dying on the counter like your underfed sourdough starter? How will it stand up to someone who didn’t get distracted, and stayed on message?
Now, it’s true that the second test of your message is remarkableness. Its ability to stand out. But that only works if you’ve passed the first test of relevance. I’ve seen too many messages prioritize cleverness over clarity. You have to have something people want to buy — and they have to see or hear it in your message.
Once you’ve cleared that bar, then you can start to work on what makes your message (and your idea, product, or service) different. In my work with clients, we find what’s different by getting specific. The more specific you are about…
- The people you serve
- What question you answer for them
- The previously unknown problem you solve for them
- The value(s) you share with them
- The approach(es) you take
- The process(es) and tools you use
- Your domain of authority (what you’ve learned through your education and/or experience)
…the more different, and thus remarkable, your message will be.
But notice something very important: nothing in that list are things that are usually “new.” They’re most often things you are already doing, the places where you’re already strong. The key is to highlight how your remarkable strengths tie to what’s relevant for people right now.
In times of danger and stress, people go to what is safe and comfortable. I think the same thing will be true when the economy starts to pick up again. I strongly suspect people are not going to go for what’s “new,” especially if it’s new to or for you. This will not be a time for challenger brands or “fresh voices,” as unfair as that likely will be.
No, this is a time when people want to feel confident their investments of money and time are worth it — that a product, service, or person will help them meet their needs, solve their problems, and achieve their goals. Remarkable never trumps relevant. Ever. You need BOTH.
So look to your strengths. Find what’s relevant in what’s already remarkable for you, and I know we’ll see you on the other side.No matter where your message is right now, you can make it stronger. Click To Tweet
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