What’s the #1 biggest obstacle in building fanbase around your company or your vision?
It’s not that there aren’t enough people out there who love what you do. It’s not that everyone out there “just doesn’t get it.”
The problem is ambiguity.
If the right people don’t easily and immediately understand what you do, then they won’t be interested in becoming one of those keys partners or 1,000 true fans.
How Clarity Affects Popularity, And What We Can Learn From Startups
Have you ever heard the parody’s (this one is amazing) on the way new startups explain themselves? We are building buffer for uber in the cloud! In reality, this is actually a very smart strategy when you consider 1) clarity and 2) their audience.
The audience is usually investors or tech aficionados who are intimately familiar with the companies of comparison, and to those types of people this definition (if done correctly) can very clearly articulate the target market, the type of technology, the pricing model all in a few words.
Brevity Is Essential To Building A Clear Message (And Fanbase)
The first time I ever tried to build a website, even the people who knew exactly what I was working on didn’t know what the website was about.
Ironically, this website was for people with ADHD, but in order to have any idea of the purpose behind the website a visitor would have to visit several different pages and read massive blocks of text.
I remember one time in particular sitting down to get feedback from a doctor and startup founder who had ADHD, and he went through every line of text on the homepage, pointing out that it was either extremely vague or provided way too much unnecessary information. Both are easy traps to fall into.
We never think we are being vague, because we understand what we really mean inside our own heads.
We also often don’t realize when we are being long-winded, because when we are passionate about a subject and happily provide endless information that overwhelms people not as familiar.
He showed me a startup website that had one main header, with 3 short paragraphs below it:
- Header: Our mission is to create X social shift by helping X people accomplish Y outcome.
- Paragraph in the left column: One way we do this by doing [Service or Benefit 1]
- Paragraph in the middle column: Another way we do this by doing [Service or Benefit 2]
- Paragraph in the right column: Another way we do this by doing [Service or Benefit 3]
It was extremely clear, even at a short glance.
On The Other Hand, Excessive Jargon Alienates
Brevity is essential, however this can often lead to a problem on the other end of the spectrum:
Excessive use of jargon.
A relevant example is something I recently was writing and thinking about:
“It’s 6am and for whatever reason I’m reading this, and it seriously the most difficult to read Wikipedia article I’ve ever seen.
To me, science can be like Shakespeare, and that’s not a good thing.
Both have a really high percentage of terms that you are not really quite sure what they mean.
I think most relatively smart people are capable of understanding almost any concept that they don’t have a psychological block against…eventually.
The problem with an article like that above, however, is that to fully understand it, I (and most people) would have to sit down and read 30 other articles about the various terms and acronyms in it first, and that’s just not practical in most cases.
One takeaway: a beneficial belief is to take it as a given that you can understand anything, so long as you choose to put in the time. And it’s self-fulfilling. If you believe you
can’t, then you won’t, because you will have a psychosocial block against it and you WONT put in the time.
Another takeaway: using too many acronyms and esoteric terms makes the barrier to understanding something much higher. Sometimes this can be beneficially used to screen for the well-educated customers or potential business partners, but usually it will just alienate the general population, including those who actually love your message (once they are able to understand it).”
Why Should You Care? So That People Understand Your “Why” Simon ted Talk – Power Of Why, And Why Leaders Share It
If you are an infoproduct creator you probably already recognize the value of the topic above. If not, and actually you are still reading, then I would like to relate this to the broader picture.
It’s not just about being understood, but about the ability to generate passion and inspiration.
In order to lead effectively, or to inspire change, you must focus on sharing with people your why. What is your why? Do you have one? If you do, can you even explain it? It is interesting to see how people respond to that kind of question or a similar one such as “what is your purpose?”
Many people will role their eyes, or not care to answer because they don’t see the topic as valuable. They don’t recognize value in having a clear why. Those that try often cannot clearly explain it. They have a general feeling about it, but cannot put it in any clear terms, often falling back on a vague cliche like “I want to change the world someday.” I don’t blame them. It’s hard!
Since they cannot explain it, no one will see understand it, and so they will never be able to inspire a passionate following.
On the other hand, once it becomes clearly defined and you broadcast the message of what you stand for, people with similar values and goals tend to gravitate towards you. I can say from experience that after this shift, finding those ideal customers, partners, mentors, or even significant others, becomes significantly easier.
Nowadays, all of my “true fans” come from hearing my clear set of values and mission, and it clicks with them. Some people hate what I do, but more than enough love it, and the only way to find the later is to be open and clear about what you believe even if that means polarizing people.
Exercise To Improve Your “Why” And Your Marketing Message:
- Do YOU know clearly what your business does? What your mission is? What your S.M.A.R.T. goals are? If not, work on the definition.
- Can you explain each of these clearly in one sentence? If not, distill it down. Trim the fat. Clarity through brevity.
- Once you have the one-liner. Show it to 10 people who are in the relevant group of people who need to understand the project to make it happen. For example, your target market, potential partners, etc. Do most of them understand it? Does it really resonate with at least one? If not, start over from step 1.
- Continually clarify and refine your why. Revisit it every week, or at least every month, to remind yourself what you are working towards and see if it still holds true.
Please do share – what is YOUR why?