I hit the skids at the red traffic light. A neck twitch to my left and my gaze landed upon a lone man standing on the street corner. He appeared to be in his mid-30s, average height, his skull wrapped in an old-school beanie. I noticed he was armed with a wide cardboard sign fixed to a wooden handle. The words ‘GOD WILL SAVE YOU’ leaped from the sign and slapped me in the face.
Mildly amused by this character, I watched him scanning the cars that had stopped nearby. He smiled and thrust his sign about in the air, acknowledging the passengers with a smile. I checked the ground near his feet for a donation tin, but found nothing. A minute or so past, the light shifted to green and I scooted off.
I took the sign man with me in my thoughts for a few kilometres. God will save you… I pondered this statement. How? Will he really? What the heck motivates someone to wave a sign on a street corner on a frosty morning?
New media connects our world. We take it everywhere. Our apps are always open, never far from us. This development has moved me to sleep with my banker, or at least the mobile app perched on my bedside table. We all consume masses of content every day and suffer a chronic condition called ‘content bloat’ – in doing so removing our appetite. For the average Joe their message isn’t outrageous or extreme enough to cut through the bloat and influence behaviour.
So how do you craft a message compelling enough to move people to action?
Take the sign man as an example. Should he peddle his message on social media? He’d be lost in the bloat. What the sign man does better than average Joe, is his actions are congruent with his beliefs. Rightly or wrongly, he believes he’s genuinely saving people. And he’s prepared to get off his butt, brave the elements and promote his message (personally) with no monetary exchange. To do this seems like an outdated, losing strategy. Is the sign man mad or is there more to it?
Well, let’s do the numbers. He’s probably happy saving one lost soul a day. Not a bad place to start. His goals appear to be realistic and create a platform to build from. Provided he delivers on his promise (this may be tricky), this model will scale and compound with more saved souls as his community grows.
The take away: regardless of whether your brand or business is relevant to new media or not, you will need to continually refine your message to cut through the bloat. You must truly believe in your message and how it saves or serves customers. If your message doesn’t move you, you can bet it won’t move your customers to action either.
Here’s the kicker, in today’s hyper-connected, competitive market you will need to go to what the majority considers extreme lengths to connect your message to the people who need to hear it most. This takes thought, effort, resilience and a long-term commitment. As for the sign man, good luck to him. If your business applies his level of conviction to delivering your message, miracles may just happen.