3 Valuable Tips for Improving Your Communications

This new ad by Huffy is the first two pages of the spring print edition of Momentum Magazine. I can tell you from experience in overseeing and styling numerous photo shoots it took hours of painstaking work to get this shot. But it's worth it. It's successfully selling fashion and comfort along with safety and it's a perfect fit for Momentum.

That's what a good ad does. It sells a solution with powerful emotional appeal. And it remembers its audience when doing so.

The woman in the image is obviously young, but the ad appeals to a broad demographic. Who doesn't want to feel the wind in her hair while riding? This is one of the few ads for a bike product that I can see working well in many different types women's fashion, lifestyle magazines, or websites - Glamour yes, Bicycling Magazine? Maybe not.

Notice too Huffy has wised up to the needs of a vast market of women (and men) who want a serious sunshade on their helmet. Boy has that been a long time coming.

Here are 3 valuable tips to help you remember your audience in your communications:

1. Approach is as important as content. Will the look, feel and content of your communications entertain and engage your audience, not just inform and show off how smart you are?  Is the tone of your writing, your speaking or audio voice, your images, and your graphics appealing and concise?

Will your communications leave your audience with a desire to learn more or act in the way you'd like them to? Think back on recent presentations and communications you've watched, listened to, or reach. Did you get bored? Did you want to tell the speaker less is more or were you called to action? There's a reason TED talks are 8-18 minutes. That's how long our human attention spans last. And consider this, the TED team works with speakers for more than six months to prepare for being on their big stage.

Amy Cuddy, whose TED talk "Your body language shapes who you are" has been seen over 33 million times covers delve into the science of why approach is as important as content in her best selling book "Presence." I highly recommend you give it a read.

2. Can your audiences imagine themselves in your presentations and outreach materials? Do you offer the opportunity for your fans, and fresh audiences alike, to see themselves in your message as you offer them a well thought out solution?

In "9 tips for creating killer product videos" on Vimeo Amy Liu starts off on point #1 Context is King:

“Don’t just show off your slick product, show how it fits in the bigger picture of your customers’ lives. What problem is your product solving? How does it enrich your customers’ lives? Is it inspiring a customer to do more? Is it increasing their overall happiness?”
— Amy Liu

My favorite of the video's she shares is the first one from Fluidstance (and not just because he's an avid bicyclist!).

3. Did you remember the fun - not just the pitch? It doesn't matter what kind of mindful mobility you're promoting - public transit and street design that works for the many rather than the few, an appeal to support a new law or policy, or yes, a bike helmet. Emotion drives action. Emotion drives giving.

While your data and policy might be crucial to prove a point it won't change hearts and minds. Human beings are wired for story. Blend your data and policy together with emotionally engaging stories to create memorable content. Vanessa Chase Lockshin has created a wonderful resource for those of us in the on profit realm who need to learn to do this better with her "Storytelling Non Profit."

Marketing guru Seth Godin recommends you think of every talk you give as a gift. Imagine what could happen if you expanded that to all of your outreach materials? How would that change the flavor and tone?

Ready to take an important step to improve your audience appeal? Coschedule, the editorial calendar software, shares more on the value of emotional headlines and offers a free "headline" analysis service.

Looking for more helpful storytelling, communications, and media outreach tips for growing more mindful mobility? You might also like these:

About Melissa

Melissa is the Media Director for the California Bicycle Coalition and Director of PedalLove.org. She is a writer, media relations specialist and active living advocate. Her mission is to share the power of artistry and personally engaging storytelling to inspire. Melissa has placed the Pedal Love initiative, its creative team, events and CalBike in local, regional, statewide and national news outlets such as the Associated Press, Bicycling Magazine, KABC News, KCRW, KPCC, Los Angeles Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Momentum Magazine, the Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle, Texas Standard and more.