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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Reframing the conversation

It's 2006 planning time and the marketing frustration is beginning to boil. "How do we set ourselves apart?" "How do we get more of a "big bang"? "How can we make a difference with no budget increases?"

First, throw away the "brand voice" definitions and marketing "messaging" documents that haven't worked. Try something different this year. Create strategies around what your company really passionately believes in. Get your customers thinking in new ways. Reframe how they think about the industry and you. Create programs around ideas abd beliefs. Let your people talk. Use more video and podcasting and fewer words.

Beliefs and ideas are very powerful stuff and difficult for your competitors to copy.

A good way to learn more about reframing market conversations around beliefs is to read linguist George Lakoff's book, "Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate." While the book focuses on how to change the political conversation, there are many lessons for marketers who are trying to figure out how to communicate their competitive difference, and their value to customers.

Lakoff provides a lot of guidelines, but says these four are the most important:

  1. Show respect.
  2. Respond by reframing.
  3. Think and talk at the level of values.
  4. Say what you believe.

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