Last week I took a mini-vacation to Washington, DC.
I visited with my online friend, Melanie Yost, and got to revisit the horse farm where she took one of her awesome workshops a few years ago. It was valuable and memorable (even though I’m still a little scared of horses).
And I caught a WNBA game. The hometown Washington Mystics were hosting my old team, the Seattle Storm. I held season tickets for 5 years when I lived in Seattle.
Cheering for the visiting team can be dicey. The WNBA doesn’t have visitor sections. I was warned not to wear my Seattle Storm t-shirt. When the Storm made a basket, I caught myself cheering and a few people glared. Those DC fans don’t give an inch.
It was a close, hard-fought game. I tried not to smirk when “we” won by three points: a tough message to the DC team.
As a copywriter, I’ve been sensitive to the way tough messages get delivered in life and in marketing content.
For instance, some apartment buildings and condos have set quiet hours. Often you’ll see messages and signs along the lines of: “11 AM to 7 PM are quiet hours. NO loud music. NO parties. Violators will be fined, tossed out the fifth floor window, or burned at the stake.”
I’m joking about the last parts (hopefully), but we’ve all seen those notices. So I was really impressed with the way the Washington Hilton does it:
“Please be courteous to sleeping guests because our sunrise is monumental.”
Nice play on the word “monumental,” too.
In longer marketing content, you can wrap your tough message in a warm fuzzy story. Here’s an example from my book on storytelling:
Marketing coach Connie Ragen Green likes to say, “To succeed in business, you need to be disciplined.” She softens this potentially harsh message with a story:
Growing up, she rarely had to follow a schedule. But when she got to college, she was overwhelmed by the demands on her time. A professor advised her, “Get some discipline.” And she’s been doing it ever since.
And now the word “discipline” no longer evokes images of whips, chains and dungeons…or even your old-fashioned high school.
The type of story doesn’t matter. Connie is a Role Model archetype (explanation here). She shares stories about her own life lessons. Role Model archetypes tend to follow the common wisdom to “be vulnerable.”
As an Educator archetype, I might communicate a message about self-discipline with examples of how our environment can sabotage our best intentions for getting work done.
Did you know that being tired makes it harder to exercise willpower and make good choices? In a research study, tired people were more likely to opt for chocolate cake over fruit salad at dessert time. What’s your tough message?
And if you haven’t discovered how to use storytelling to build your brand, forget what you’ve heard about being vulnerable and sharing your hero’s journey. Here’s where to learn the best techniques and tips that help you reach your audience and inspire them to take action.