We’ve all made small and big promises to ourselves about how we work and live this year. Mine is a promise of lightness.
How can we all be lighter and more powerful?
Slow down to run faster. We all need to take a minute, assess and recalibrate. I’m reading Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. The book shows how we can take charge of how we feel, our mindset and how we look, by understanding the brain and how we can help it function better. Lightness starts with how we approach life itself.
I saw that Digital Trends just announced the Smith Lowdown Focus which brings to sunglasses the technology that has been helping people focus and relax their minds in the Muse headband (Muse is a product of InterAxon, a company I've blogged about often since the company's early days). More people are using meditation and mindfulness to recenter themselves and manage anxiety and stress, tap into their creative selves and build better relationships. For anyone running their own business or leading teams in a corporate or nonprofit setting, these are invaluable to being strong and effective.
I often coach clients that need to simplify what their offering is (which never means dumbing down). With digital clutter challenging SEO results, along with with short attention spans, light and accessible messaging never been more important than it is now. Lighter, accessible messaging is simply inviting – and without the invitation, people will not come visit a website, read content, click on a link or take action.
I’ve found that for many technical or subject experts, it's difficult to let go of the complicated, jargon-laden language that carries so much meaning for them, even when it’s evident that complexity is hardly working as a magnet for them. I cringe when I hear clients make the excuse that the reason the audience that they’re trying to connect with isn't 'getting it' is because people are stupid. That answer lacks respect for others and I move people away from that kind of thinking with a more inclusive approach to look at the problem being solved more emphatically. Every potential customer and all the potential influencers that may or may not step up to help an idea move forward deserves the respect of a clear and simple message.
Clear and simple messaging is at the core of all successful marketing. Entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and the people moving change forward become more relevant by stripping away the complexity to help people get interested in the change their product, service or company represents by simply being able to communicate:
I/we offer (the target customer) (the solution) that solves (their problem). It’s better than (what people have now or competitors) because (the key benefit).
What makes companies and key people valuable is being able to tell the story well. That first point of entry is the conversation starter. Startups that don’t tell their story well tend not to attract customers, investors or media attention. Corporate changemakers that can't communicate beyond their immediate circle of like-minded people will have trouble getting buy-in from leadership and cultivating partnerships. Nonprofits that don't tell a story that extends beyond their immediate clients are likely to miss out on fundraising opportunities and corporate partnerships. My three-step process to help clients Inspire, Inform and Invite people in to their brand experiences starts with the light touch it takes to inspire people. So lighten up on the messaging!
Lighten up on the information
Once you’re resonating with your target audience and have their attention, move into informing people. Craft your story so it unfolds to align with key benefits (not features). This is where presentations, trade show presence or speaking engagements, email campaigns and print and online content all bring people along with exactly the kind of knowledge they need to make an informed decision to purchase, donate or engage.
As you’re prepping people to make the decision to buy your offering, not a competitor’s, you can pave the road for them to choose to become a customer by offering up content that’s relevant to their situation and the challenges they’re facing. Help them answer their most pressing concerns with articles, blog posts, one-pagers, worksheets and checklists that add value to cultivate yourself or your brand as a subject expert.
You can keep it light by breaking your content down into easy-to-find, SEO-driven, accessible, mobile-friendly bits of information. Dry, technical information can become light and attractive with professional copywriting and graphic design that increases a brand’s authority.
Keep the invitation light
Simply building up information and content as a path to purchase doesn’t guarantee a sale. We can encourage it with a friendly invitation and the right call-to-action. Consider calls-to-action with each piece of content that will move your audience along to click, read or share more, download something, contact you, make a donation, become a partner – whatever the goal is for the path that your content is setting out.
We can keep it light by crafting the design and the right words to bring the desired results. Offering an experience that’s inviting for customers is more attractive and will result in more engagement than being pushy or assuming people will be interested.
With the right message, tone and presentation, early-stage startups can get the kind of influencer backing that acts as a step ladder for introductions to open doors and create growth. Corporate changemakers can build their networks and influence to make a difference within their organizations and beyond. Nonprofits can fundraise more effectively. Lightening up the most serious subject matter so it’s not dense and difficult to understand simply makes it easier for people to become part of your tribe and join the movement in the change you're making.
Making a difference ultimately infuses people with meaning, bringing a sense of purpose that many write about (Inc. Magazine, for instance) as being more important than the pursuit of happiness. A sense of purpose is what drives the people I work with, the awesome, brave people with the answers to tomorrow's problems. Lightness will certainly help to move these messages forward.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every great brand that's making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.