“Are you an electric guitar in an orchestra?”

by Daniel Batten on August 17, 2011

A company is like an orchestra; its
message to consumers is the soloist.

The soloist should be unique, yet play the same
tune, rhythm and musical score as the orchestra.

Most companies fall into one of two traps:
they either reflect, or ignore what their own
orchestra (company) is doing.

Method 1: All science, no art

When people accurately reflect what the company
is doing you get bland messages like “we provide
turnkey business solutions that grow …” zzzzzzz.
The effect is great if your aim is disengagement.

Method 2: All art, no science

Realising the need to be unique, other companies
treat sales, messaging, positioning and marketing
like a simple need to create a buzz without paying
adequate attention to the essence of the company.

Typically, the result is like listening to a orchestra
play Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto while a lone
guitarist strums “Stairway to Heaven” over the top.

There was a recent extreme example of this when
an Australian owned bank ran a marketing
campaign claiming “we are a kiwi bank”. The
(expensive) campaign was soon pulled.

The formula for successful messaging – whether it
be for a job interview, product sale, investment pitch,
marketing story or engaging your own team – is
creative uniqueness + precision alignment

That’s why “spin” doesn’t work.
It’s not “aligned” by definition.

Method 3: Science + Art combined

First you need to identify what your company actually
does, where it is, and where it wants to go. Ignore this
and we are back to the “electric guitar in an orchestra”
problem. This part is the “science of messaging.”

Second, you need to faithfully reflect this in a creative
way that is interesting to others outside your company.

That means using metaphor, story, persuasive language,
jargon-free phrases, and testing out everything you write
and say with the merciless question “so what?”
This part is the “art of messaging”.

Fail to do this – and you don’t have a soloist to rise above
the general throng of the orchestra.

The result of getting both the science and art of messaging
right is worth it:

1. people go “aha!” rather than “huh?” when you speak

2. you spend less time explaining yourself; more time doing business

3. you don’t put people in the position of having to feign interest and/or understanding

4. people will want to employ you, follow you, do business with you and buy you. That’s because its so rare in business to find someone who applies these 2 steps.

Finding your message is not about blowing your own trumpet.

It’s about listening to what is already happening (inside
you, or your company), then adding a clear new sound
that is both remarkable and in-tune at the same time.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

juliet August 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Great message, well expressed; made me smile as well as say ‘ah-ha!’ to myself. Thank you Daniel.

Andrew Melville August 18, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Great Blog Daniel, love the clarity around science and art. And I often find myself talking to clients about busting open the ‘on the same page/songsheet’ cliche and looking for harmonies, rhythm, and synergy to be ‘on song.’!

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