ABC’s and 1,2,3’s

03Jun09

We love books, articles and business models that use the same letter over and over.  You know – the 3 C”s, the 4 P’s, the 5 S’s.  It’s so neat, so clean.  I totally blame consultants for this – they don’t always invent the models but they propagate them like rodents.  I am completely guilty myself.  In an earlier life I was a Managing Principal in the IBM Consulting Group’s Global Business Transformation Practice.  First, that is a title only IBM could love.  Secondly, I lived for, and adored, and created, and sold the heck out of those alliterative models.

The other thing we love are numbered lists.  Blogs, tweets, popular business books and articles are absolutely dominated by this format.  You know (and the authors know) that you cannot resist  “the 5 secrets to success” or “the 10 things bosses hate.”  I used this numbered-list trick myself not long ago in one of my posts and it became my most-viewed post.

Why?  Well, we are time-starved so we want something that is a quick read.  You know, something all chunked up into easily-digestible snacks.  Drive-thru please.  Who has time to cook?  Also, we want a fast path, a shortcut on our journey to success. 

But, the best thing about the abc’s and 123’s is that they are memorable.  It is a branding mechanism.  And it works for the audience as well as the brander.  I admit I can never remember all 5 of the secrets to success but I can usually recall 3 or 4.

A  good question to ask right now might be “where am I headed with this post?”  One of the most-viewed videos on Youtube does an excellent job of reminding us that as a society, we have more information than we can deal with in a day, a year, a lifetime.  We are fiercely raking in as much as we can, as fast as we can take it in. 

Think about that – just for a minute, I know you are busy.  All this raking in and taking in, in addition to being tiring, makes us long for someone who will manage it for us – who will tell us what is really worth paying attention to, what is not, and why. 

Great personal brands are great communicators.  They know that the rest of us fly along the surface looking for Cliffs notes day in and day out.  If you want to out-connect your competition with your audience, learn to do what powerful leaders do – help your audience by interpreting and making relevant, the information that is crucial to their success.

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