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Win the fight for attention by communicating with relevance

The biggest challenge when introducing a new product is establishing a connection with your audience. Often, this is because you can’t do anything else until this is in place. This detail really hit home for me, when I went to an accelerator event in Mexico.

In this 2006 photograph, a man was receiving an intramuscular injection in his left shoulder muscle from a trained, registered nurse (RN), while his family was observing from over the nurse's shoulder.
Photographer: CDC | Source: Unsplash

One of the speakers was an immunobiologist client of mine, who’d developed a unique salmonella vaccine that could be combined with other vaccines. And it looks as though his vaccine is the only salmonella one which can do that.

I’d worked with him briefly as an innovation expert, and had a discussion about commercialization options as well as some pitch training. At the time he was struggling to see entrepreneurship as a viable route to greater impact. He felt comfortable as an inventor, and wanted to do more of that, not become a businessman.

It turned out I had unleashed a force of nature. Also drilling him in giving pithy explanations helped him hone down his message to something much more concrete for anyone who wasn’t already a fellow immunobiologist, or even a scientist. This one insight allowed him to communicate the relevance of his work to the wider public.

But more importantly, he started to believe that entrepreneurship was a viable route to greater impact. As it would force him to confront institutions that held him and other scientists back domestically.

As a result of both, he’s pretty much gone from a booksy academic researcher to a serious contender in getting funding to help spread the use of his product vaccine. This is the power of relevance and empathy in an age of dwindling attention.

One of the best ways to get (and stay) relevant is to focus all of your marketing and product efforts around a client profile. In theory there are millions of ways to reach an audience; in practice, you only need to reach a specific group of people. So figure out who they are, and then just focus on them. The best way to do this is the Hero Canvas tool. Grab a copy and get a quick intro for free with my Hero Canvas course.

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