The first time I invited Tamsen Webster to Marketing Smarts, she explained "Why Your Marketing Doesn't Work," and shared invaluable tips for structuring marketing communications in a way that walks people from knowledge to belief and, ultimately, to action. In the two years since, she's refined her messaging strategy into an even more effective framework for marketers, called "The Red Thread."
I invited Tamsen to Marketing Smarts to explain The Red Thread—how it infuses emotion into your marketing content and why you need to look for it in order to inspire action from your audience. Her insights will prove valuable for marketers, speakers, and anyone else who wants to inspire change. (You can also hear Tamsen speak at the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum 2017!)
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
The power in storytelling isn't actually the stories, it's the pattern they follow (09:24): "We have all heard about storytelling and why storytelling is so powerful. There's nothing better than stories, and we think in stories, and all that. But...when it comes down to it, it's actually not the story that matters. It's not even the structure of the story that really matters. The reason why stories and story structures are so powerful is because that's how we encode meaning. And that follows a pattern...
"As any of us are listening to something for the first time or we're trying to make sense of a situation...we are coding into our minds a story that's very much written in the same way. Like Mad Libs, all we're doing is filling in the blanks, except with Mad LIbs it's 'noun' and 'verb' and 'adverb.' When it comes to how we make meaning, we're looking for answers to things like 'what does somebody want here? Why aren't they getting it? What is it that's really driving them? Why is that problem such a problem? And so what are they going to do differently? What's the shift here that's going to get them what they want? How are they doing that?' And that final question at the end: 'well, did they get what they want? Did it work.... There really is this universal template for how we take in information.
To achieve clarity, you need to break your big idea down into its smaller component parts (24:30): "It's kind of like when we go shopping for a new car.... We go to the lot and we pick out a new car and we're like, 'That's the car for me—it looks right, it feels right, it's awesome.' But we forget that that car doesn't just get born as a complete car.... That car had to be put together from a series of parts, just like we we humans are. We're put together from a series of parts. We don't function unless all those key parts are there—the skeletal system, muscles, our skin on the outside, blood working through.
"A message, an idea is exactly the same way. We may look at it and go, 'Oh, there's a person,' or 'there's an idea,' and we therefore try to go look for that, when in fact when we're trying to find our 'Red Thread,' when we're trying find our brand, when we're trying to find our purpose if we're a person, we actually have to go back and look at each of the individual pieces and make sure those work and then we can put them back together into something that is not only personal and unique to us, but incredibly powerful because we've been able to make sure that each of those pieces is as tight and as clear as it possibly could be."
To learn more, visit TamsenWebster.com. You can also follow Tamsen on Twitter @tamadear, or sign up for a "Red Thread Weekend" to bring your presentation from the idea stage to a fully formed outline and session pitch.
Tamsen and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
This episode brought to you by FullContact:
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.