Did your mother ever say “You’re not wearing that are you?” or maybe your dad said something like “Stand up straight” or “Give a firm handshake”.
And, did you roll your eyes?
I did. Because I thought that your thoughts and ideas should speak for you; not what you wear or how rich or charismatic you are.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works. And today I find myself saying those same things to my Gen Z son.
It’s Not the Message, It’s the Messengers
You can have the facts, the experience, and passion. But if you don’t have the specific traits of a trusted messenger, your message will be ignored.
Almost everyone has had the experience of not being taken seriously — even when their message was serious, founded on fact and relevant to the audience.
You can get frustrated, or you can read “Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, and Why”.
I received a review copy from the publisher and after reading just a few pages of the intro, and I was hooked.
Maybe This is Why Your Message is Falling Flat
Maybe the problem with your marketing isn’t your marketing message — maybe it’s who is delivering that message. And if that is you then this is a book worth reading.
“Messengers” doesn’t position itself as a marketing book, even though it deals with core elements of marketing and persuasion. It’s a book about the human condition. And, it’s a book any business owner who is struggling with communicating their value should read.
We live in a world where proven facts, verifiable data, and truths are often ignored — especially when delivered by a messenger who isn’t well-known, charismatic, rich, dominant or likable.
The most frustrating thing about the book is — that it confirms what you’ve always known and gives you the data to support it.
“Messengers” Just Might Explain Why We Promote and Support Jerks or Not
This book is fascinating and riveting because it spends nearly 300 pages explaining elements of influence and persuasion. But instead of focusing on behaviors, the authors put the attention on the “Messenger”; the person delivering the message.
And how this person (the messenger) appears to their audience will determine whether or not they accept the message.
Actually, we accept two different types of Messengers; Hard and Soft.
Hard Messengers can often come off as jerks, although not always. We accept what they say as truth because of their —
Socio-economic position: As humans, we have a hard-wired logic that states that If they made all this money then they must know what they are doing.
Competence: I’d adjust this to be “perceived” competence. They simply look like they know what they are doing.
Dominance: They display physical dominance over their rivals.
Soft messengers are the charismatic leaders we admire. They are the complete opposite of the hard messenger. They connect with their audience, they are relatable and have the following qualities:
Warmth: Warm messengers are caring and likable.
Vulnerability: To open yourself up to others, is actually a sign of bravery. Vulnerable messengers show they have nothing to hide and engender loyalty and connection.
Trustworthiness: Can people count on you? There are two types of trust; competence-based and integrity-based. A trustworthy messenger has proven their worth in the past to the degree that you can count on them in the future,
Charisma: The alchemical mix of confidence, expressiveness, energy, optimism, rhetorical ability and many more attributes. We can’t quite quantify it, but we know it and feel it when we see it.
One key question that doesn’t really get answered is which type of messenger should you use and when?
The closest that you’ll get is that you should use a hard messenger when the audience expects something tangible and a soft messenger when they expect something intangible.
As you’d imagine, it’s better to have skills in all of those areas.
The Audience Matters More Than You Think
The first question for any form of communication is always “Who is my audience”. But more importantly, what do they need and what do they want?
By putting their focus on the messenger rather than the message, authors Stephen Martin and Joseph Marks shine a new light on who a messenger should be based on the circumstance and what the audience wants.
In fact, this is a topic I would have enjoyed reading more about. The audience matters. What they want matters. And based on these two circumstances, you want to make sure that your messenger and message are aligned.
Perhaps this will be their next book.
Authors as Professors of Influence
Stephen Martin and Joseph Marks are both successful researchers and professors of behavioral science and psychology. Martin is the CEO and Marks is an associate at INFLUENCE AT WORK.
Martin is also the author of “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive” which has sold over a million copies and has been translated into 26 languages.
Why Read “Messengers”
Depending on your intentions and maybe even where you are on the cynical scale, your reasons for picking up a copy of “Messengers” may differ.
Let’s put it this way. If you own a business, run a business or sit in a meeting where you recommend courses of action — this is a must-read.
If your marketing or sales hasn’t been as successful as you’d planned, it may NOT be your marketing message. It just might be the messenger.
This article, “New Book Tells Small Business Owners How to Communicate their Value” was first published on Small Business Trends