I heard it when I turned on the radio in my rental car. A halting, urgent-sounding older male voice began, “One in three women in Louisiana who are murdered (long pause) are murdered by their husbands. If you suspect that someone’s life is in danger, call now for help.”
A woman said a phone number quickly, anxiously. She then repeated it slowly and calmly. The man added, “I wish I had called. It might have saved my sister’s life.” He said the number.
Hint: The significant sequence of specific details in your message makes more of a difference than the amount of money you spend or even the celebrities you involve to create or distribute it.
1. Make Your Message Feel Almost as Vital As Air
This PSA had all the elements of the A.I.R. formula that you can use to craft your messages: Actionable. Interestingness. Relevant.
Make it Actionable: Like offering a number to call, advocate some concrete action to take.
Give it Interestingness: Just as I got pulled into the story by the startling statistic and stayed involved to the unexpected ending, you can generate suspense via the element of surprise by giving an unexpected sequence of messages within your message.
Be sure it’s Relevant: Ensure that anyone who has been in the situation you describe, will go on high alert as they hear you suggest something specific that can help them. As Jay Baer suggests, that’s being highly helpful.
Here’s another example of starting with a specific detail that pulls us in, followed by an unexpected twist and ending with a relevant action to take: In the height of the dot-com day trading spending frenzy, I passed a billboard on busy Lombard Street in San Francisco with this message, “Someone is going to win the lottery this week. And it is not going to be you. When will you finally turn to E-Trade?”
2. Make Your Body a Moving Billboard for Your Message
In fact you can actually become a billboard to depict your message, as this biotech CEO did in the way he moved and gestured to, in keeping with his unfolding message, to captivate an audience, and make it the most frequently-quoted characterization at the conference. Not that his announcement was the most significant one made there, just the most sticky.
Hint: Whoever most vividly describes a product, situation or choice usually determines how others view it, feel about it, discuss it and make decisions about it.
Virgin America could have touted its specials in emails with headlines like “Fares starting at $49.” Yet, as Porter Gale points out in her book, Your Network is Your Net Worth, “The ones with the highest open rate…. See the rest of the column at Forbes.