An inconvenient truth: how to get a difficult message across

April 26, 2022

How do you tell someone they’ve been doing it ‘wrong’? And how do you get them to actually shift their behaviour? Not an easy job, but one that ethical organizations have to deal with on a daily basis. Because if anyone has an inconvenient truth to tell, it’s them. Climate problems, social inequality, economic poverty – to name but a few – are not exactly happy or motivating stories to tell. But important? Very. How do you ensure that your organization’s story still hits the mark, despite the difficult message?

You first have to zoom in on the problem in your message. Is it clear enough? Abstract stories are (often) not effective, and users don’t care for them. To make your idea stand out, you have to speak to the imagination. What does it mean that Problem X is happening? Why should I do something about it? What’s in it for me? A clear marketing strategy with smart copy and active design is crucial for this. We’ve shown it with Ava, a non-profit organization that reached their funding goal within a week.

If you offer a good alternative as a solution, you’re close to convincing your potential user. It’s still important you’re clear and concise. Does the solution offer a clear perspective, and does the user understand what exactly they have to do? Behavioral change is within reach, because your user just moved from unaware and incompetent, to aware and competent. Aware and competent? Yes, they’re aware of the problem and competent enough to solve it. All they have to do is take the next step: actually solving it. Oh and by the way, your message will become only more powerful if you don’t blame others – with a good story you don’t need that.

Sadly, there will always be stories where even concise storytelling isn’t enough. Like understanding you have to consume less, but at the same time are trying to sell an ethically produced product. Or that you talk about female rights, but don’t do justice to all the differences (in background) between women. The solution is simple: when this is the case you have to be clear and honest. Sometimes things are simply the way they are, and you shouldn’t sugarcoat it.

Do you need help getting your message clear?

At Multitude, we’ve been doing that for 10 years!

Reach out to Rozemarijn