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Be bright and inspire them!

Let’s talk about the benefits, by Carole Pailhé
Cliquer ici pour la version française

No, a Chilean drama film, directed by Pablo Larrain, came out on 6th March 2012. It tells the story of how Pinochet lost power in 1988 following a referendum. It is also a lesson in marketing for anyone wishing to engage people in their projects.

At the beginning, the opponents focus their campaign towards the NO (hence the title), about the denunciation of the regime’s abuses. The hero, working in advertising, has to give his opinion on a project plan – dark pictures, police brutalities, counting of murders, tortures and disappearances. The judgement is final: “This is not a seller. If you want to win you need to be more sympathetic.”
Leaving the dramatic context behind, the campaign finally adopted the codes and forms of marketing. Joy, rainbow logo, pastel colours, happy characters, catchy jingle. These images today seem corny, but they allowed the democrats to win.

What if, just like the Chilean opponents, we put more colours in our presentations?

I believe that in a time and age like ours, often with sinister overtones, it is vital to reverse the tendency, to think and communicate hope.
Our instincts, our education, the current economic climate, and the complexity of the situations we face in businesses… Everything leads us to focus on the negative.

And yet, few people mobilise themselves on the facts. As Simon Sinek rightly pointed out in his book “Start with Why”, Martin Luther King gave the title “I have a dream” to his famous speech and not “I have a plan”. If this had been the case, would have we observed the same mobilisation? Would the message have triggered such deep awareness and inspire such a radical change?
To actively support a project, we all need hope. This kind of hope has two names in marketing: the promise (claim) when talking about the product or the brand, the benefits when talking about the consumer or the client. Benefits each one of us should explain in order to engage our audience.

What does us good

Note that I am talking here about the benefits, neither about the advantages nor the consequences. The word benefit comes from the Latin: bene, good and facere, to do. Ask yourself honestly: how does my project do good? What brighter future does it plan for us? What deep conviction does it give?
A few years ago, I led a project at a European level to implement my company’s marketing policy in accordance with the common practices and the regulations protecting our client’s personal data. Extensive documentation, risk analysis, list of the expected advantages, clear and rigorous instructions in 4 steps, and I thought at the time that my local correspondents then only had to follow. What a mistake! Several weeks and dozens of phone calls were necessary to finally start receiving the first feedbacks. Quite surprising when you consider that the work requested would only take them 10 minutes… Now if I put myself in their shoes, my project could only inspire one feeling: boredom. I agree, the subject was not one of the most exciting. But moreover, none of my arguments provided my colleagues with what they needed: a personal reason to act.
My project, explained in detail, 1 diagnostic, 4 points and 3 advantages, explored more than enough the How and the What of the project. Information that was quite necessary but not enough to cause the expected reaction that would encourage everyone to act. However, to start by linking the personal data matter to a deeper Why would certainly have changed things: to take care of and protect my community and that my community in turn takes care of and protect me. My colleagues would then be more willing to act. Not for me, nor for their clients, but for themselves: to join the cause.

Choose your words, take your time

When it is time to launch your project, talk about the benefits:

  • Seek in yourself your own reasons to act.
  • Leave on one side those with the positive consequences that your project will have – you will use them later to describe the What of the project.
  • Concentrate on the reasons that behold the benefits – your vision, the Why of your project.
  • Keep all the emotional impact.
  • Express your final promise with simple words.

Do not lie, do not overdo it: a backlash would deprive you of your most valuable asset, trust. Without it, it is not this project that would be compromised, but all the ones to come.
You will encounter resistance on the way. This is natural. After all, your colleagues are not obliged to share your convictions at the very moment, especially if your project requires them to stop the practices they love. Some will commit at a later stage, others will only do it once facing the end result. Your goal is to mobilise first a critical mass – 50% + 1 for the Chilean referendum – the others will join in their own time.

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