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The Power of Words

The other day, my dad sent me a link to a video on YouTube. He doesn’t normally send things that aren’t either really hilarious, really silly (not necessarily the same thing), or really moving, so I knew this one would be good. The video is called The Power of Words and it’s less than 2 minutes long. Click the link to view

The Power of Words

the video, then come back and continue reading. Consider this your spoiler alert!

What your message says about you

Basically, the title of the video says it all: words are powerful. The blind man cut right to the chase to state the facts: he’s blind and he needs help. But as you saw, people just kept walking by—not many stopped to put money in his pot. Then, a woman with some insight took the time to stop and actually see the man. She looked right at him and then read his message. The two didn’t line up. She could see that he was a person—he had wrinkles from experience, he had feelings just like the rest of us, and he surely had hopes and dreams. But his message didn’t portray that. His message focused on a sense he didn’t have and then what he needed. Wait a minute—what’s wrong with that? Well, everybody wants something, so when you add your request to the pile, you don’t stand out.
The woman’s new message, “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it,” changed the result. First, it identified something that was common to everyone. We all experience the same kind of weather no matter our income or job, faith, age, or race. That statement reached out to be applicable to everyone. You would either think, “Yes, it is a beautiful day,” or “No, it’s kind of overcast and dreary.” Either way, it prompts thought and opinion. Already, the message has evoked some sort of response from passersby. But what about the next part, “… and I can’t see it”? This message addresses the fact that the man is blind but puts it in words that again identify a result with which most people identify: being able to see. Instead of stating the clinical condition, the message now states the result of his condition: he can’t see.
Notice that nowhere on the new sign does the man actually ask for anything. There is no “Please give me money,” or “Help me.” The new message—identifying with the common experience of his audience and then addressing how his experience of the day differs from everyone else at the experience level—is enough to provoke the ultimate desired result: moving people to action.

Use these principles in your business

How do you get your message across? Are you simply giving all your clients the facts and then requesting that they use your services or buy your product? You’re like the blind man with the first sign. Think about how you can really identify with your target audience. It could be in a shared experience, where you show them that you understand their struggles or challenges, or it could be in identifying with their hopes and aspirations, or perhaps even stirring up new ones. This should establish some sort of camaraderie or evoke some thought or emotion. Now your audience is engaged and interested. Next, you need to move that engaged audience to action—picking up the phone, emailing, making the purchase, or signing that contract. This is where you show—not tell—how your business can meet your audience’s needs, how your service or product is different from everyone else’s, or how your business can provide a desired emotional result (eg, less stress, relief, happiness, fun). Note that you’re not simply telling people or asking people to do anything; rather, you’re demonstrating how your business can bring a desired effect for your potential client. This part of the message should be powerful enough in itself to drive your audience to action. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Perhaps you’re a coffee shop who serves great coffee. So what? Lots of places serve great coffee. But maybe your beans are fair-trade certified and taste delicious. Okay, other places have that, too. But wait—you also put 10% of the profits back into programs that provide housing and education for the families who work on those coffee plantations. Now you have something different from the competition. Don’t overlook those emotional and spiritual hooks, because even though you might think of them as prospective clients, customers, or potential business alliances, first and foremost these clients, customers, and businesses are all people.

What does your message say about your business? What does it say about you as a person? How are you and your business different from the rest? How are you identifying with your audience? Look in the mirror and then look at your messaging. Does your message really reflect who you are?

Think about it. Perhaps you just need to change your words.