Three Questions about How to Find Your Story

Good, effective communication doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You need a plan, a strategy, a ‘big picture’ view so the actions you take have a context, make sense, and build long-term relationships. It’s easier said than done. But here’s an excellent place to start….

Find your story — which should focus on how your product/service/offer/widget helps your customer do whatever it is they need to do.

Then, share your story — which should demonstrate how you help us, make us laugh/cry/care/tap our feet, or stir our emotions.

Start by asking yourself three basic questions:

  1. What do you have to say? (What’s your ‘message’?)
  2. Who needs to hear it? (Who’s your audience?)
  3. How will you know when you succeed? (What do users think? How do you track the feedback?)

Everything else is formatting. Video, print, online, interactive, mobile, social. Whatever. It’s all formatting. Seriously. Yes, it’s important — sometimes, vitally so. But it’s not the first thing you should focus on, hip and cool though it may be.

A lot goes on behind our three questions. You need time to:

  • Think — decide if you have anything valuable/useful to say and what that might be
  • Investigate — research current and potential customers, clients, and audiences; focus on those who make a good match for your message; figure out where they live, so to speak, and which forms of media will reach them best
  • Write — identify, shape, and hone your message for clarity, emotional punch, remarkability, and memorability
  • Test — try out your ideas on a few typical users; get feedback about what they love, hate, ignore
  • Evaluate — ask yourself what success looks like and how to measure/track it
  • Rinse and repeat — run it up the flagpole again and fix the glitches before you go live

Really. Start with what you have to say, who needs to know, and how to tell if you’ve hit the mark.

Not “I want to make a video,” but “Here’s what I have to say and here’s who needs to hear it. What’s the best way to reach that audience with that message?” Maybe that’s a video. Maybe not. Maybe it’s some combination of media and methods that evolve as you go.

If you answer these three questions, you have a context for your actions. And, almost as if by magic, your best next step appears.

How often do you take this approach? How does it work for you?

©2011 Jill J. Jensen/Clarity from Chaos