A lot of us pay a lot of attention to the messaging we send out to prospective clients and customers. We agonize over our choice of words. We think through our offers. We consider ways to engage customers and prospects. But on a walk past my local elementary school today (on the first day of school) I think I may have stumbled upon an important lesson.
As I walked past the kindergarten section of the school I saw all kinds of colorful messages written out in colored chalk on the sidewalk. These were positive, encouraging, and uplifting messages that were obviously written to lift the spirits of incoming kindergartners. I saw things such as: “You’re Awesome!” “You’re a Rock Star!” “Welcome to Kindergarten!” and “You Have a Bright Future!” written in perfect handwriting in bold colors. I have to confess that I felt a warm appreciation for the teachers who had written these encouraging words up and down the sidewalk that led to the Kindergarten classrooms.
But something was wrong.
The colors were bright and inviting. The script was friendly (there is just something about a kindergarten teacher’s handwriting that is welcoming). All of these positive messages led right up to the door into the school. So what was the problem?
I kept looking at these messages until it finally dawned on me: Most kindergartners can’t read when they enter Kindergarten. I know there are exceptions. There are kids who start reading at age 3 or even earlier. But the vast majority of these young people can’t read the kind of messages that were in plain sight on the sidewalk. On top of that, these eager learners were probably so jazzed about their new backpacks and shoes that they didn’t even notice the writing they stepped over.
Then I thought that perhaps the messages were intended for the parents of these incoming students. I suppose that’s possible, but there are probably more efficient ways to get the message across to parents.
What has that got to do with those of us who are responsible for getting our messages across to our potential clients and customers? Even the best of intentions won’t accomplish what you want if your audience can’t receive the message. The barriers to reception could come from the language that you use. It could be a result of the medium you choose. It could be in your presentation. Or it could simply be that you’re talking in terms that make sense to you—but simply don’t resonate with the people you’re trying to reach.
Think about your messaging. Is it really geared toward your audience? Or is it designed to speak to where you hope your audience is? If your audience is still in the research phase of how to build a custom home, for example, they're not ready to hear about design and upgrades. They'll skip right over your message until they find what they're looking for, in this example probably building process information or how to find land on which to build.
It’s not a good thing to talk down to kindergartners. But it’s also not smart to give them information they can’t absorb or act on.
I’d write more, but it’s time for some milk and cookies!