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Timing, substance and cookie crumbs

In considering opposites in competitive positioning regarding the current field of political candidates, the arguably blighted crop is certainly polarized. Finding direct comparisons in product or service marketing poses a challenge. Perhaps chiropractors and back surgeons fit the bill.

Regardless of parity, my musing turned to the how, what and when of launching a retort.

Current “best practice” in political realms appears to dictate immediacy. Personally, I like a good deep breath and bit of thought first – the difference between reacting and responding.

Some years ago I worked for a brilliant marketing person. In spite of that brilliance, we regularly found ourselves spending entire days preparing responses to breakfast table rumors, only to have those fables proved false by dinner. In pursuit of urgency, in a given month we often postponed a week’s worth of “important, not urgent” work.

So, what to do during that pause? As often seems to occur with these posts, my thoughts turn to audiences. Who will be impacted by any effort to sway perceptions? This tends to be the point where things devolve.

Too often, given polarizing content and equally disparate audiences, message makers either go too broad or become too pointed. In going too broad, there isn’t enough substance to persuade anyone from one opinion to another. When too pointed, those with deeply held beliefs (regardless of accuracy) brace themselves against what seems a personal attack rather than a persuasive argument.

Think of it like an Oreo® cookie. Broad messages hit the cookie like someone blowing on the outside. Pointed arguments, even those with needle-like precision, crumble and destroy the cookie shell.

Good messaging acknowledges that in order to get to the crème center where persuasion is possible, you might need an immersive (think milk) approach to soften resistance, or a less direct approach (think twisting the outsides) that uses leverage from a completely different angle to get inside.

Marketers often concern themselves primarily with timing and content, relegating the who and why to an afterthought. But timing and content should evolve from understanding your audience and knowing just the right amount of persuasive strategy needed to get to their soft spots.

 

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