Posted by: rolfsky | January 28, 2008

why should I care?

The most fundamental question in publicity is the most over-looked.

In any type of evangelism, marketing, or advertising, you are trying to do one simple thing: win over the hearts and minds of your audience.

To achieve this goal, you only need answer one simple question for your listeners:

“why should I care?”

I learned this from a mentor, Eric Billingsley, co-author of eBay’s primary search engine, head of eBay’s Research Labs, and one awesome guy.

As a young innovator, I worked for 12 weeks on super-special assignment in eBay’s Research Lab. As my time there was coming to an end, I was invited to a meeting with the team that would take it over. My special project was going to become a major initiative!

Within minutes, the new team crashed headlong into the same first-start questions that I’d hammered out months ago. Having already been through this in my own research, I attempted to show them that the basis work was already complete.

Being by far the most junior person in the room and lacking significant persuasion skills, I was essentially ignored.

Returning to my mentor, I lamented that “nobody would listen to me,” and I wanted him to do something about it. I had already done good work, and couldn’t they see that?

Eric looked me dead in the eye and delivered the three words I will never forget:

“That’s your problem.”

The “big boys” weren’t listening to me? That was my problem. He wasn’t about to go tell them how to do their job, it was my job to convince them. Nobody was going to do that for me, least of all him.

Who is my audience, and why should they care? If you don’t get them caring, you might as well leave.

I try to keep this advice in mind as I type up my latest blog posts or consider my next presentation. Phrase yourself this way, deliver a clear message towards a known goal, and you may find a completely new level of being understood.

Not only what is your message, but why should I care?

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