Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Can you get your message across in five words?

Today sees UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown travel to Buckingham Palace and ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament, triggering a General Election next month. Cue four weeks of campaigning, debating and electioneering as the major parties try to capture swing votes in an election that's currently too close to call.

A big factor in deciding who wins the election will rest on a handful of words. The BBC News this morning included a picture of the Liberal Democrats' 'Battle Bus', with their campaign slogan 'Change that works for you' proudly pasted across the vehicle. Expect to see similar coaches from the other major parties, with Labour campaigning under the slogan 'A future fair for all', while the Conservatives are urging the electorate to 'Vote for Change'.

In each case the Parties are attempting to get across in as few words as possible their core message. They know that a large part of the electorate won't listen to much of the detail of the debates, watch Election Broadcasts or read their manifestos. Their best chance of capturing swing votes is to make an impression with a strong phrase that reflects what they stand for.

In the US elections, Barack Obama said 'Yes we can'. And he said it time and time again. Pretty clearly, enough of the American electorate believed him.

Other memorable political slogans include:

Britain deserves better (Labour Party, 1987)
Catch up and overtake America! (Nikita Kruschev, USSR 1957)
Labour is not working (Conservative Party, 1979)
Vote yourself a farm (Abraham Lincoln, 1860)

In each case, and many more, a strong message is carried in a few words, leaving voters in no doubt about what they are voting for.

Just as this technique is so important in elections, so it is in business. People won't necessarily read your promotional brochures from cover to cover or listen intently to your 'elevator pitch'. If you can, however, sum up your core message in just a few memorable words, they may well take that away. Make them intriguing, easy to understand and strong enough to recall at the right time and, if appropriate repeat.

I use 'Connecting is not Enough' to get across my stance on networking and give an idea of my approach.

Please feel free to share here what you use for your business or ask for some feedback.

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