Take any stretch of highway for an extended period of time and you’ll pass a cross marking the site of a tragedy. It’s easy to drive by with as much as a grim nod towards the sad marker. I saw one recently, though, and found myself thinking about it even miles down the road.
Draped over the cross was a bright yellow workers vest. It was the reflective kind to make sure approaching cars can see you clearly. Something about seeing the vest immediately created a visual of what might have happened.
Maybe the right word for what I felt was conviction. I actually felt more mindful of my driving and how focused I was. The vest was a powerful visual. It caused me to create a picture in my mind of how the accident occurred.
Seth Godin, marketing expert, has a book called The Purple Cow that describes a similar concept. He says if you were driving down the road and saw a normal cow you wouldn’t think anything of it. If the cow was purple, though, you would pull over, take pictures, and tell others about it. The same applies in business and across other contexts.
Stickiness is a term used in marketing when talking about ideas and messages that actually spread. In a world of noise, excessive information, and a nauseating amount of advertising, being a purple cow, having a message that sticks, or even just being a noticeable warning to drivers on the highway can be difficult.
This isn’t a PSA to not text and drive, nor do I really think any of you are looking for business advice. I just think more than anything I’m reminded that our messages and how we communicate them really matter.
Our experiences are costly. In the example of the cross on the side of the road, there is a heavy prerequisite that has to happen before a cross is placed. Someone’s life was lost. You can’t share your story of overcoming a struggle without having struggled.
So I want you think about something to help identify what message is most important to you, based on your experience. If you have time, and especially if you enjoy writing, try answering these questions:
Get really good at that message, because I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—we all need it.