What Free-Range Chickens Can Teach Us About Clear Messaging

Posted by: Steve Brown

“If you confuse, you’ll lose.”
–Donald Miller

Why are humans so inept at communicating with other humans?

The gist of it is this: we tend to be more concerned with ourselves than other people. Shocker, I know. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s part of our wiring.

The majority of marketing comes from that self-centered place. The best marketing, on the other hand, has a clear message that makes the customer the hero of the story. That kind of messaging feels good to our brains.

Rather than walloping us over the head with some self-centered, narcissistic caveman chest-thumping––“Me the best. You give me money because me good”––create messaging that is helpful for your customers.

That approaches them with empathy, respect, and positivity.

In other words, treat your potential customers like free-range chickens.

Appeal to the Free-Range Brain

People’s brains yearn for freedom. When you put people into any cage, they respond by rebelling any way they can (especially if that cage is I’m going to do whatever I can to get your money). And if they can’t rebel, their bodies and minds get sick.

But if you give them the freedom to come to you at their discretion, and make a choice on their time, they will reward you with their business.

Think about in terms of how we raise chickens…

Everybody agrees that chickens lay more delicious eggs when they’re happier. And they’re happier when they get to roam around the barnyard and eat grasshoppers on their schedule like they were originally designed to do.

(At least all of the grocery stores agree with this theory when you compare the price difference of free-range chicken to conveyor-belt chicken.)

Similarly, our brains are happiest when they’re allowed free range to process information at super-fast speeds

The phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” just means that our brains can deduce a great deal of information in a split second. If you add a line or two of text on top of it (such as a Meme or a cartoon), our brains love it even more.

Why? Because it tickles our story-craving funny bone. When you tickle that funny-bone, you’re more likely to fill your barnyard with free-range chickens that lay the most delicious eggs you’ve ever tasted.

However, if your messaging is confusing, your barnyard will be so empty you’ll think you’ve been raided by a band of foxes.

Putting a ton of confusing jargon on your website without any images puts your customers’ brains in a stressful environment.

Suddenly, people feel like those poor industrialized conveyor-belt chickens in crowded cages.. When we find ourselves in that metaphorical cage, our brains want to break out because it doesn’t feel right.

So how do you create a free-range experience for the people you want to connect with?

I’m glad you asked.

People Buy the Products They Can Understand

One of the best systems I know of for planning and creating content that our free-range brains love is the StoryBrand Framework. This process gives you a way to harness the power of story and create messaging that is clear and earns the attention your business needs to survive.

As my good friend and StoryBrand founder Donald Miller says, “People don’t buy the best products; they buy the products they can understand the fastest.”

The brilliance of the StoryBrand process is that it helps you avoid the common mistake of playing the hero of your own story.

In short, the idea behind StoryBrand is that the difference between noise and music is that music follows rules. The same applies to stories. The products people understand the fastest are the ones that are communicated clearly. Clarity is a product of following the rules of story.

The secret to helping your customers resolve their internal challenges is for you to overcome your natural tendency of being self-centered and start putting yourself into their shoes to understand them better.

Will Leach illustrates this concept beautifully in his book Marketing to Mindstates. The essence of the book is that you make most of your decisions based on emotions, not logic. Will refers to the emotional decision-making part of our brain as the nonconscious autopilot.

If you can begin to understand the emotional mindstate your potential customer is in as they evaluate your products or services, you will communicate a clearer message. And if you communicate a clearer message, you’ll get more customers.

Happier Chickens Lay Tastier Eggs

Creating clear messaging is simple, but it’s not easy. After all, doesn’t it sound pretty simple to just keep a bunch of chickens in the barnyard and reap the benefits of tastier eggs?

But you have to put a lot of effort into making such a deceptively difficult endeavor work. You have to keep the chickens safe, give them space to roam, and make sure none of them run away.

In the end, it’s easier and cheaper to keep those chickens caged in a factory and plop them on a conveyor belt when they’re plump and ready to be “processed.”

There’s a reason more people are running to free-range products, and why people have always been drawn to clear messaging:

Because we want to peck around a bit and learn for ourselves. We want to know exactly what we’re looking at so we know whether it’s a tasty grasshopper that will make us happy and healthy, or some mystery feed that will make us sick and confused.

To learn more about clear messaging, read my book, The Golden Toilet.

Buy The Golden Toilet