05 Jul Why Use More Words When Less Words Do Trick?
Keep Customers by Keeping it Simple.
A few years back I attended a start-up funding competition as an exhibitor with my company TheStoryArchitect.com. A young, passionate founder of a tech startup caught sight of my booth, walked over, asked what I did and then exasperatingly went into great detail about his ongoing struggle for attention from his target audience. He was passionate about his product and the impact it would have but he lost me about a quarter way in to his pitch. Organizations from startups to multinational corporations face the same struggle: how to connect, win and retain customers to drive sales. And strong, clear, and concise messaging has a lot to do with it.
It’s Not Rocket Science. It’s Neuroscience.
Messaging is not just another buzzword, they are the words that deliver your narrative. It changes depending on the time, context, and your audience and helps to focus your overall communication strategy. Use these principles to develop cohesive messaging that will resonate with your audience rather than escape them.
Keep it simple but deep in meaning
Most organizations have a deeper meaning as to why they exist which influences strategy, decision making and behaviours. The core beliefs of your company or your “why” should be at the very root of all your communication. A strategy-specific, simple, and inspiring message which is easily relatable is an important tool to help your company personally connect with customers in their day-to-day life.
Tell a Story
We as humans have an emotive brain which means that 98% of our thought is automatic and unconscious. As social psychologist Jonathan Haidt says, “the human mind is a story processor not a logic processor.” Information which is presented as stories or metaphors naturally make it easier to digest and remembered. In fact, we are even programmed to physically interact with stories. For instance, language that evokes mental images, sensations, scents or experiences is even easier to process than words alone. Use storytelling as much as possible to incorporate humanity into the company. This helps your customers understand the real life value of what you can offer them.
Repetition and Familiarity
Messaging which is familiar with your audience or ensuring they see the same message over and over goes has the same process in our brains. Our brain mixes up familiarity with liking, which a psychologist would refer to as the exposure effect. People who have seen something before tend to rate it more positively. While oddity catches your attention, there is a lot more processing our brain has to do to understand it. Repetition and familiarity is a cornerstone to getting your audience to quickly engage with your message.
Lighten the Load
We have a limit to how many things we can keep in our brain at one time so it’s important not create excess noise around the core message. A general rule is: one message and one call to action. Asking people to do multiple tasks or understand multiple messages simultaneously in a single message is overwhelming and therefore diminishes the likelihood that they will understand or do anything about your message at all. This becomes increasingly important when the outcome for your customer is to take action.
Great Messaging is a Process
Finally, test and practice your message. This is undoubtedly the most important step as research becomes critical to discovering what works and what doesn’t. Dial testing, focus groups and surveys are good methods or if you’re low on cash, a session of volunteers who closely resemble your audience is a viable option. Then, after you know what sort of messaging resonates with your audience, in the case of media interviews, events and general prospecting you must be able to answer the easy questions as well as the hard ones. If you don’t practice your messaging, you may stumble and end up forgetting what you wanted to say and default to technical language.
Great messaging really is a process and is not as easy to accomplish as one may think. Naturally, we want to convey as much information as possible and as fast as we can. But, your audience is in their own headspace so the easiest way to connect with them is usually the simplest.
Sera Deniz is the Marketing Coordinator for TheStoryArchitect.com, a Toronto-based startup who helps organizations unleash their story.