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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  September 23, 2014

Great Position of a Soft Message

A lot of us thought leaders have what many buyers call “soft messages.”  In other words, our expertise lies in soft skills, such as human communications, treat folks with respect, etc.  The big strategic question:  how do you position your message to overcome the “this is just feel-good stuff” reaction?

Enter this article about Robert Sutton, who advocates not being a jerk in his 2010 book The No Asshole Rule:  Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.  This interview in strategy+business about his newest book is a great example of how to position a soft message.

The takeaways:

  • Lead with aspiration.  In his newest book about scaling excellence, Sutton leads with what folks want.  By focusing on aspiration, he inspires folks to take the trip.  If we focus on what we need to do first, we set up an either/or construct.  We force people to decide to do something without getting excited about what’s in it for them.  That’s a hard sell.
  • Focus on the paradox.  Sutton focuses on the need for clarity in the short term but also acknowledging that the future is ambiguous.  Paradoxes are fascinating things.  People love to learn more about how to balance opposing forces.  Creating intrigue can tip the scales when you have soft messages.
  • Acknowledge what is.  Sutton acknowledges the work involved and also that sometimes we don’t know what we’re doing from day-to-day.  By making that OK, we free up mental space to focus on what we can control.

 

See for yourself in this article.

 

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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.