I left you hanging there for a couple of weeks, dying to know more. I know...its a theory! — who doesn’t love a good theory? So here’s our Theory of Compelling Communications:
Engagement = Evocative Shiny Red Message + Meaningful Core Message
or En = (EvSRM) + (MCM), for short. Sort of...
Our hypothesis is that the evocative construction we devise (the Shiny Red Message) draws an emotional response from your audience that compels them to examine the rest of your core messaging to satisfy or feed their emotional state. If that in turn is relevant and meaningful to them, then you have them fully engaged. (ahem, now would be an excellent time for a call to action...)
The more evocative or provocative you can be, the stronger the engagement, to a point. Proceed tentatively, and you’ll have a lukewarm audience; go too far and you’ll fully engage your audience all right — by generating a negative response to your message. Finding the balance requires a thorough understanding of their needs and perceptions, and the way your brand message relates to those needs and perceptions.
If you do get the EvSRM right, it is imperative that you also get the other part of the equation, the Meaningful Core Message, right, or you will have wasted everybody’s time. In order to be meaningful for your intended audience, your messaging must answer their fundamental questions: why should I care? You’ve got my attention, my emotions are up, what’s in it for me?
Once you’ve articulated a meaningful, albeit literal, Core Message, how do you go on to devise a compelling Shiny Red Message? You make the connection by articulating something that is evocative, provocative, witty, original, startling, peculiar, intriguing, imaginative, fresh, twisted or uncommon about an aspect of your core message as it relates to your audience or your brand. In effect, you want to shed a little ray of insight onto your audience’s needs.
Done well, this shiny red message will go on to compel, oblige, motivate or otherwise move your audience to examine the rest of your message, right down to its meaningful core.
Which, because it will be on strategy, well planned, designed, produced, disseminated and managed, will be engaging in all sorts of good ways…