Your audience is more important than your information.
Imagine your product, offering or cause. Now imagine all the things you’re just dying to say about it: how it works, why it’s the best, why your audience should care, etc. Now think about delivering all of that deep information to an audience that has the attention span of a gnat. That’s the scenario companies face as they communicate their brand and sustainability stories today. Audiences are lost in this new millennium of interaction, engagement and communication. Even audiences that care deeply about sustainability issues are being pulled away from messages that may be meaningful to them.
So the million-dollar question is, “How do you get that big message to your audience in a meaningful and noticeable way that causes action?”
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when communicating their stories is focusing on information instead of audience. This is even more of a problem in the sustainability world. It’s hard for companies to embrace the idea that education is less important than engagement. After all, they’ve spent a good amount of time and money gathering information about their cause, company or product. That fact compels them to quickly start educating everyone about what they’ve worked so hard to compile. But for education to work, they’ll need the audience to have a desire to be educated first.
Choose the right path.
Engage, entertain, inspire, then educate. Connect to your audience through something they understand and already buy into. Make it fun, enjoyable – even shareable. But whatever you do, start small with your message.
How to start small.
Let’s use an example focused on communicating the issue of food waste in America. If we want to create a message to consumers that causes a positive action to combat food waste, the first thing we have to do is take the fear out of this big scary issue. So we’ll need to take our audience’s mindset from foreboding to feasible. Here’s an example of how to move from a big message to a smaller, more effective one.
4. The big hairy message.
The first message is so big that it’s paralyzing for the audience. Forty percent of food is wasted in America! Wow! The reaction you’ll get is one of helplessness, “That’s terrible – but I can’t do anything to affect this massive problem. I’m just one person.”
3. Making it familiar.
If we make the problem a little smaller by revealing that the majority of food waste occurs in the home then we’re getting somewhere. We’ve added something familiar to the big problem.
2. Getting closer to home.
If we go even smaller by pointing out the three main culprits of food waste in their own home, we give our audience something they can relate to easily.
1. Giving control.
Finally, we’ve given our audience something small enough to understand and, more importantly, we’ve given them control. Now you can connect. Start your message with #1 then lead your audience to #4. This provides the audience with a way to affect the major issue of food waste by taking care of their own fridge. That’s something they feel like they can act on right now. With this connection we’ve also given ourselves a wide-open door to engage in a variety of ways.
This kind of focus isn’t easy, but it is critical if you want a positive action to take place with your product, service or cause. Most companies start communicating at #4 or #3 and never get to the small message that will actually cause movement.
Connecting to your audience with something they can directly relate to is huge for your communications, and give you permission to share deeper thoughts. Your audience is more important than your information so give them the control they need by starting small.