I was at the gym yesterday when I saw two ads by the SA Labor party. Both ads were vintage ‘attack’ ads that I’ve been seeing as long as I can remember, where the Opposition leader and another local leader were being attacked for…basically nothing.
Here’s the thing though: after seeing those ads, my immediate response was not to agree with the ad, but instead to think that there’s no way I’ll vote Labor this election.
Relax – I promise I will put more thought into my vote than that.
The point is that in 2018, if you want your message to reach and activate its audience, it’s not enough to use fear as a motivator.
You need to think positive.
As we’ve been preparing to launch Encounter Church over the last 12 months, Jen and I were struck by advice from Joel Cave, one of our ministry coaches, who pointed out that our initial communications took a somewhat negative slant. We had unintentionally shaped our invitation to join us as a negative problem that needed solving, instead of a positive opportunity that people get to partner in.
He was spot on.
In my sphere, the church, it’s frankly unacceptable to not offer a positive experience. We’re meant to be sharing about a better, transformed life now AND eternal life with God. Hope is everywhere in the message of Jesus. The 4 books that speak about him are called the ‘gospels’, euaggelion, which literally translates as ‘good news!’
Yet despite all this, somehow we had made joining us a struggle to be overcome, rather than a joy to be shared. Since then we’ve made it a point to be intentional about helping people understand that joining Encounter is a life-changing, difference-making action in people’s lives – because it is!
This same principle also applies to your business and your brand.
Is the message that you are sharing inspiring people to buy into who you are and what you’re doing? Or are you falling on the same tired moves that attack your competitors?
If your only way of advertising your brand is to try and destroy somebody else’s, it sends a message that you don’t know if your brand has any value.
The same goes for us as individuals. If we are approaching conversations with people and about people in a way that is mostly negative, more than anything else we are indicating that we don’t know our own value.
Here are three reasons it’s worth making all your communication more positive.
When your message is positive, your product is received better
Let me give an example. The new Tide ad with David Harbour that launched at the Super Bowl is one of the best ads I’ve ever seen. Why? It turns all the classic advertising tropes and points to one larger, positive (hilarious) idea: maybe they’re ALL Tide ads!
A month later, the campaign’s effect on sales is already notable. A rep for the Tide says initial sales results show double-digit growth for Tide Ultra Oxi since the game. That follows impressive metrics from the Super Bowl, when #TideAd was used more than 45,000 times and became the No. 2 trending topic on Twitter – second to the Super Bowl itself.
All this, in the wake of the disastrous ‘Tide Pod’ challenge. Tide pushed aside a potential negative problem and created a new positive image. Perfect.
When your outlook is positive, you become healthier (and so does your organisation)
There is strong evidence to suggest that being positive is actually beneficial for your mental and physical health, as well as your personal motivation. That’s a pretty great start, particularly as anxiety rates continue to climb, but let’s then apply that to your organisational culture.
Positive employees are happier employees – not much of a revelation, I know – but that also makes them more productive and less likely to change jobs. Positive feedback, combined with creative positive outcomes (like giving employees their birthday as an extra day of paid annual leave) creates a higher chance of employee retention. When this happens, you begin to get a stronger workplace culture; more understanding & affinity of shared values and a reputation for being a great place to work.
You are a global citizen in a negative climate.
The current socio-political climate is about as negative as it possibly could be. I’m not interested in blaming people; I’m interested in every one of us taking personal responsibility for our own actions. Through avenues like Twitter we now have the capacity to share direct messages to people basically anywhere on the planet.
This means every time we open our mouth (or our laptop) to communicate a message, we can target individuals and organisations easily and we choose whether to add to the negative climate, or create a different, positive way.
Each of use must take personal responsibility for our own behaviour. On a micro level, ranting at an umpire at a sports game creates a small ripple. On a macro level, using sweeping statements to denounce entire groups of people can create a large ripple. It’s no longer just celebrities who have this power, it’s the ordinary person like you and me.
So will you use choose to use that power for positive change?
Back to the attack ads.
I have no idea if the Liberals, Greens etc have also done attack ads this time around (though I appreciate SA Best’s truly weird attempt to avoid that). This post is not about politics; it’s about communication.
But my hope is that our political leaders are smart, savvy and strong enough to refuse to do them going forward. It’s not just about integrity, it’s about knowing the times.
My prediction is that the organisations that look to create positive solutions for their members and clients will be the ones that emerge as the thought leaders and aspirational workplaces of the future. They will attract better employees, create a stronger culture and exert a widespread positive influence at a socio-economic level.
Isn’t that what you want from your workplace – and in your own life?
It is possible. Just stay positive.