Around St. Valentine’s Day, I was helping my daughter Daphne make her mom a card. She’s five (“five and three-quarters, thank you very much,” she says) and she frequently spells words without any vowels at all. In the card she wanted to let her know how “budfl” (beautiful) she thinks mom is. The conversation went something like this:

Me: The consonants are pretty close in that word. I think you need a few more vowels.

Daphne: Daddy, what are the consonants and what are the vowels?

Me: The consonants are B, D, F, and L. The U is a vowel.

Daphne: No, dad, I mean in all the alphabet, which are which?

Me: Oh, I see. The consonants are the sounds you make with your lips and teeth and tongue, like S, and K and T, and the vowels are the sounds you make in the back of your mouth, like ahh, and ooh.

Daphne: No daddy, you don’t understand. What letters are they?

Me: Well, the consonants are S, K, T, V, like those. There are a bunch of them. The vowels are A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.

(Long thoughtful pause)

Daphne: Is Y a vowel today?

My incomplete explanation to Daphne got me thinking about how we communicate, or specifically how we don’t communicate our message as effectively as we could, especially in our marketing. If you find you’re not reaching your target market the way you’d like to, see if these ideas help.

Being a bit of a political junkie, I’ve been watching the primary races keenly, specifically focusing on how they craft their words in a way that reaches below the surface. Here’s what I’ve observed:

Great campaigners (and marketers) focus their audiences on two things.

1. What isn’t working. If you’ve turned on the news of the election for only five seconds, I’ll bet you’ve heard the word “change” about eighteen times. Everyone wants to be the face of change, and for good reason: a quick visit to the website of Gallup Polls shows consumer confidence down, fears of unemployment and recession up, etc.

Point people to the pain they feel, and they’ll respond quickly and viscerally.

You may remember Ronald Reagan’s mantra in 1980: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” It was a brilliant rhetorical question because in the face of relatively high unemployment, rising inflation, and a perceived energy crisis (sound familiar?), most people in the US were fearful and longing for “the good old days.”

It worked in part because it was immediate and simple. A question like that takes no time to answer and hits people where they live every day.

George W. Bush pushed the tactic over the line in the 2004 election, getting at the deeper fears Americans had (and still have) about national security and terrorism after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Please make no mistake about this: I am not encouraging scaremongering. There’s a great difference between on one hand provoking insecurity and pushing people into fears they wouldn’t otherwise have, and on the other hand, asking them to look at their very real challenges, problems, and concerns they want to be addressed. The first is unethical at best. The latter is the very reason your business exists—to help people overcome their challenges and have more, do more, and be more than ever before.

2. Paint a picture of what things can be like.

One thing that impresses me about Barack Obama is the way he eloquently points out how the country is on the wrong path (a sentiment the vast majority of Americans agree with), and then offers solutions.

In a recent interview, Obama said about healthcare, “This is something that I’ve been emphasizing everywhere I go. The rise in the incidence of diabetes, childhood diabetes, all directly traced to increases in obesity, is astonishing. If we went back to the obesity rates that existed in 1980, we would save the Medicare system a trillion dollars.”

Notice in one simple statement, he shows an image of saving the lives of children and saving taxpayers a huge amount of money. The bottom line is his message of hope.

Effective campaigners take this two-step approach—pointing to the problem, and then showing how they can solve it—over and over again.

And the key to really reaching people effectively? Keep it simple—you’ve probably heard it many times, and it’s still as relevant as ever. Consider Vladimir Lenin’s slogan to get the largely illiterate population on his side during the Russian Revolution: “Peace, Bread, Land.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Or Herbert Hoover exactly 80 years ago, repeating, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” That probably didn’t do much to garner support from the vegetarian or green votes, but since those blocks didn’t really exist in 1928, no harm done.

When I meet people for the first time and they ask what I do, I say, “I work with solo business owners who are struggling to attract new clients. I show them how to bring in their ideal clients easily and consistently.” It’s easy to understand, it gets at what might not be working for them, and offers a brief description of what it can be like when they work with me.

If you’re struggling to attract new clients, use this basic two-step approach. Talk to them simply about what obstacle you’d work with them on, and what life will be like when you’ve helped them. Nothing gets attention quicker. It’s better communication, because it’s clearer and addresses their actual concerns.

Author's Bio: 

Since 2002, Robin Jones has been coaching people to thriving businesses and balanced personal lives, using a unique combination of proven marketing strategies and life coaching techniques with his clients. They see external results in their businesses that they never would have imagined, and internal clarity, excitement, and peace. For your Fr*ee “The Marketing Plan Start-up Kit,” sign up for Success The eZine at