Articles Tagged ‘Form follows function’

Not Everything Is A Nail

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Imagine you arrive at a fancy party to network and meet new people. You meet one person who tries to work in as many ‘word-of-the-day’ vocabulary terms as possible, peppering every sentence with incomprehensible five- syllable buzzwords in an obvious attempt to impress. Another person insists on shoehorning in current pop- culture references to convince everyone how hip she is. Still another tries to win you over by dropping names of important people he’s eaten lunch with. Would the behavior of any of these individuals impress you much?

Yes, knowing good vocabulary, staying relevant, and having good connections all have their proper place, but it may not make for engaging conversation. Often we make the exact same mistakes with our businesses by communicating in ways we would find off-putting in a social setting. As a large part of my job, I work with clients to make their idea into a powerful and memorable message, whether through a website, a video, or some other medium. Naturally, this raises the question: What makes a message effective?

Stated simply, we put the message first. This sounds so absolutely obvious, but especially in our tech-heavy line of business, so many people want to focus on having the newest technology or the latest trends that they become completely tone-deaf to whether those things really support their message or not. For instance, we may counsel a client that they do not need an active Twitter account or their own mobile app – although these tools are wonderful when used well, they aren’t the solution to every problem. There is an old saying, “To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail.” Social media is a great tool, but it doesn’t fit every situation. The same goes for every technology or trend, and if we try to blindly rush in pounding our hammer harder and harder we risk coming off like the clueless party-goers who don’t notice when they fail to impress.

So, how do you find the right message for your situation? First of all, consider your audience. Who are they? What do they care about? Where do they go, whom do they talk to, what technology makes them comfortable or uncomfortable? All of these things should inform what you say and how you say it. You probably wouldn’t approach a target market of senior citizens with a Twitter account, and you wouldn’t appeal to teenagers with door-to-door marketing. You need to tailor your message to your audience.

Second, you need to really think about what you want to say. I mean, really think about it. Forget for a moment what seems trendy and what sounds impressive. If you have gone through the enormous work to start your own business, then something must be important enough to keep you awake at night. What is it? Think about it until you can strip it of any pretense, and explain it to someone who knows nothing of you, or your business, or your industry. Then boil it down further. What would you say if you only had sixty seconds to say it? What if you only had one sentence? What if you only had three words? You will finally distill your message into a kernel of an idea that will inform everything from the wording in your advertisements to the colors in your logo.

Finally, you should consider who you are. What makes you different? Develop a message that emphasizes your strengths. Does your experience set you apart? Your skill? Your ingenuity, or your attention to detail? All of this should inform your message.

Even if all of these points don’t get explicitly stated, a thoughtful message will have them implied. After all, your message amounts to more than just the words you use, it is the sum total of all you say and how you say it. And if you keep your message your core focus rather than any one trend or technology, you’ll find that the technology and trends you use will flow naturally out of that core. Instead of always using a hammer, you will always find you have the right tool for the job.

Steven Riche
Joust Multimedia – Lead Developer
steve@joustmultimedia.com
http://joustmultimedia.com
812-390-4832

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