The potential takeaway here for small businesses is Think first, do later, a discipline readily applied to any communication project. Think first means asking strategic questions before moving forward with “creative”.
· Who will be reading or viewing your ad, brochure, video, etc. – and why?
· What headline will most attract the eye and make people want to read more?
· What information will pique their interest and engage their mind early in the first paragraph?
· How will your product or service be positioned to their advantage?
· What is unique or revolutionary about it?
· How does it differ from prospect expectations – or competitors’ offerings?
· How will your Key Message change people’s thinking about your product or service?
· What action do you want readers or viewers to take – now or later?
Years ago, I collaborated with the president of an international consumer products company on a speech he was to give before a large group. I don’t even recall the subject (assignments for this client typically were concerned with strategic visioning or the future). What I DO recall, however, is finally realizing that out of that huge audience, he only wanted to influence a small handful of key people – inspire them to think a certain way and do certain things. Armed with that information, I was able to not only hit help him the mark, but harvest tons of extra goodwill from the rest of his audience, many of whom took the time to ask for copies of my client’s speech.
I have used the think first, do later concept a lot since then, primarily to slow down and focus clients who said they wanted this or that kind of communication project done but really hadn’t thought much about how they wanted people to feel, think or act when they viewed their ad, read their brochure or listened to their sales presentation. It's like saying “We need a web site,” without having thought much beyond the notion that “We need a web site.” You see the results all over the Internet: creatively attractive but strategically impotent web sites whose creators clearly have failed to ask the important questions up front. You see the same thing in politics, where strategic questions with myriad long-term implications don’t seem to have been asked (or are ignored to serve ideological ends).
But that’s a whole other story …
TakeAway: Ask strategic, customer-centric questions before working on “creative.” Build the answers into your content. © Brian E. Faulkner
For related perspective, see http://www.brianefaulkner.com/key-message.html