Fly Like an Eagle
Maybe it was because I grew up in the city, but Scouting wasn’t popular among my friends and schoolmates
. Certainly nowhere near as popular as hanging out on the street corner and arguing over who should be crowned World’s Greatest Guitarist
So while sitting in the audience a few weeks ago watching my nephew Ethan and his friend Michael take the Eagle Scout oath, two things occurred to me:
Making it to Eagle Scout is a wicked big deal
Marketers and politicians are a lot alike
While the first observation might seem entirely reasonable, I suspect the second needs a little explanation. Here’s what I mean…
During the ceremony, three politicians gave speeches in which they congratulated the two new Eagles. First up was the town’s mayor, who read a formal proclamation. Twice, in fact. Once for Ethan and again for Michael.
Loaded with “Whereas” and “Therefore” clauses, the text breathed a solemn legal air. It was an honorable recognition for sure, but kind of dry (especially the second time around).
The next speaker, a state representative, started out by mentioning that his son is also an Eagle Scout. I understood his paternal pride, but the misdirection lost me. More so after he went on to explain to these newly hatched Eagles their responsibility to uphold the Eagle oath and honor.
Finally, there was Connecticut’s U.S. Senator, Richard Blumenthal. Standing in front of the audience, he spoke of the rare talent these scouts displayed and what all of their hard work meant to the parents, to the community and to themselves.
When the ceremony was over, it occurred to me that what I had just witnessed was a primo example of how differently organizations approach marketing communication.
Because all three speakers had the same objective – to recognize and honor these new Eagle Scouts. Yet, each took a different path. And, consequently, each ended up in a different place.
As a marketer, you probably make similar choices — not only about which messages to communicate, but also about how to convey those messages. And when it comes to capturing and keeping a buyer’s attention in the digital world, how you say it is as important as what you say.
Here’s what I took away from the event…
- The mayoral proclamation sounded like a product specification – technically and factually correct, but lacking a connection to the value of what these young men had accomplished.
Think of your own product brochures. Are they necessary? You bet. But they’re only one part of a complete communications package. A well-rounded strategy also includes papers, videos, web content, case studies, articles and blog posts that help audiences connect to the value, importance and impact of what you sell.
When the state representative began his remarks by mentioning his son, he took the spotlight off the honored guests – albeit briefly – and put it on himself. And by lecturing the new Eagles on the responsibilities of their oath, he told them things they already knew.
Read through your web pages and other content. Does it lead with your audience or your company? Does your content repeat what your audience already knows or does it introduce new ideas and points of view? Self-promotion is good as long as you start by acknowledging your audience’s concerns and demonstrate new insight.
Although he kept his comments brief (rare for a politician, I know), the senator hit all of his marks. He kept the focus on Ethan and Michael, mentioning their Eagle projects by name. He acknowledged the roles played by their families, friends, scout masters and troop members. Finally, he reinforced the significance of their achievement by telling of the many generals and admirals he knows who still list on their resumes the title of Eagle Scout.
What made this speech special? The senator stood directly in front of the audience, did solid audience research (okay, his staff did) and demonstrated a knack for storytelling. The thing is, facts don’t always speak for themselves. Your audience needs you to connect the dots – in a simple and memorable way – and place the stuff you sell into the context of their lives.
The bottom line: Talk to your customers, find out what they think is important and make that part of your own story.
Then before you know it, you’ll be soaring above the competition. Scout’s honor.