Thursday, 28 April 2016

Don't Lead With Complexity

Picture a car advert.

It’s a Volvo. A beautiful, fast, family car that simultaneously ticks the boxes of ‘Staving Off That Midlife Crisis’ and ‘Safe Enough For The School Run’. It’s got a polished, white paint job that somehow remains grime free. The Volvo cruises along the flat, rolling tarmac. No potholes or red lights in sight, just the traffic-free open road stretched out towards a stunning horizon.

Mom and Dad sit in the front, smiling and happy. Dad isn’t angry at Mom for making him do all the driving while she naps the entire time. Mom doesn’t have a splitting headache from the stereo playing the same twelve children’s songs on a seemingly infinite loop. Neither of them is screaming and spitting with rage at a useless GPS that keeps blurting out “Recalculating” every eight minutes.

The two kids in the back are miraculously not fighting, screaming or urinating. They’re just calm and chilled and enjoying each other’s company. The simple act of being on a journey in this Volvo has brought the family closer together. We don’t know where they’re going, but we know they’re going there as a family. And it’s going to be a beautiful day.

Now imagine Volvo did something different with their advert. No beautiful scenery, no happy family, no content life. Instead, imagine a dissertation on the Volvo’s camshaft lobe separation. Imagine blueprints on its direct injection technology. Imagine a three minute discussion about the exact dimensions of the overhead cams. Imagine all that and then tell me how excited you’d be about this Volvo.

If you’re leading with complexity, then you’re not making people fall in love. And falling in love is the ballgame.

Forget the advert, now you’re in a bar. It’s a good vibe, everyone’s enjoying themselves, and then you see the most amazing person you have ever laid eyes on. You spot them from across the bar, hanging out with their friends. You can see this person is beautiful and funny and cool and you know right then and there that you have to talk to them.

In your mind you flash forward; you can see yourself being with this person, you can see yourself making a commitment to this person, you can see yourself buying furniture with this person. This is real and it’s happening right now and you’ve got to make an impression. You’ve got to make them love you.

So, of course, you walk up and hand them your resumé. It’s in a nice little folder with tabs and everything. You take them through all the details of your working life, you clearly outline all your accomplishments and skills. Your successes, your failures and how you handled those failures. This should do the trick, right? This resumé should make an impression? This should make them fall in love, right? RIGHT?!

No, of course not. You go tell them a joke, tell them a story. You try to make them laugh and relate to them. You try to find common ground and shared experiences to bond over. Leading with complexity is the death of love. The first thing you have to do is make an impression.

You need to make an impression on your client, relate to them, make them fall in love. Ask yourself “what problem am I solving?” Show them just how well you know their pain. Show them just how well you understand their pain. Show them that, if they use you, you can take that pain away.

In our hugely successful web series “The New Guy”, one of the issues being addressed is cross-company, multi-platform collaboration. Rather than emphasize the technological complexities involved, take a look at what happens.

Who hasn’t struggled to download the PowerPoint in time for the call? Who hasn’t been in conference calls that can’t even connect properly? That’s immediately relatable. It makes an impression immediately.

And in this video for the “Lily’s World” series (which has amassed over 99,000 combined views), the simplicity of a young girl’s point-of-view, cuts through the complexities of entrenched and outdated systems.

In this series of videos, it’s Lily’s bitingly fresh perspective as an outsider that highlights the inadequacies of old IT and communication infrastructure, and exposes the mentality of “that’s just how it’s done”. “Lily’s World” is a unique way of tackling the relatable problems and issues the audience face every week, without getting mired in the technical details.

Comedy can cut through all of the complexity and highlight the benefit of whatever it is you’re selling. There is a time and a place for all the specific details, but that comes after the romance. After they’ve fallen in love with what you’re selling.

Video is the worst possible medium for leading with complexity. All that is, is a brochure that moves. But video is hands down the best way to tell a story, to make people laugh and to make an impression. It’s the best possible way to make people fall in love.

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