How to Get Great Messaging Approved

What would happen if Microsoft did the packaging for the iPod?

Watch this video:


Pretty funny, huh? Probably made by Apple employees or an Apple fan, right?

Except it wasn’t. It was made by Microsoft!

Some folks at Microsoft wanted to show how their normal process creates boring, overloaded, emotionless packaging. And this video was the result. Microsoft never intended this video to get out to the public, but it has now been broadcast all over the Internet.

If someone who watched this video said, “Ha ha! Look how lame Microsoft is,” they missed the key lesson.

None of the decisions shown in that video were made through incompetence or bad intentions. Microsoft hires the most talented, driven, highest-paid people in the world. It’s just that, as more and more people give their well-meant input, the combined effect is a boring, overloaded, unremarkable result.

What is remarkable about this video is how well it messaged the problem to the company’s key players.

The people who created this knew there was a problem in packaging. So, what did they do first?

They showed the problem in such a way that everyone could see how each change, despite its best intentions, contributed to the problem.

Then the people in each functional area could see how seemingly small decisions added up to a big impact on the packaging. And that freed them to look at how to solve the overall problem, which was to create packaging that told the story they wanted to tell in a simple, compelling way.

Now, think about your messaging. Your “standard,” corporate-approved slide deck. Does it have the simplicity and emotional impact of Apple packaging? Or does it more closely resemble Microsoft’s efforts?

If it’s closer to Microsoft’s efforts, you’re not alone.

People often tell us that they would like to have better messaging, but they can’t get it approved through their gatekeepers. And so all too often, they give up.

The first thing to accept is that none of your messaging gatekeepers want to weaken your message. They’re simply looking at messaging through the filter of their own responsibilities.

So, how do you get them to see the problem beyond their immediate responsibilities?

Here’s where you can apply the key lesson from this video to get new messaging approved at your business.

Show people what great messaging looks like. Contrast that great messaging with what can happen to it after it touches many hands. And give everyone involved a chance to be part of the solution. In our experience, when people take that approach, the change can be dramatic.

One more thing.

In launching the Zune, Microsoft ended up creating a package remarkably out of the box. All because someone messaged the problem in a way that all key players knew how they could impact great packaging.

So, what are you going to do to get great messaging created and approved?
A good start might be to e-mail this article to some people you want to influence.

— by Erik Peterson,
Consultant, Corporate Visions Inc.