What do you see?
This isn’t a trick question. Think about it…..
It’s a field of yellow flowers, right? It’s actually quite beautiful, isn’t it?
Would you be surprised if I told you this is a vacant lot in a run-down neighborhood just west of Chicago filled with weeds?
Here’s what John Constable an English landscape painter (1775-1837) would say:
“I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may
– light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful”
Actually this is a picture of a field filled with dandelions. Have you ever looked at a dandelion…really looked at it up close and personal? Now in Illinois, dandelions are considered obnoxious weeds. They’re particularly unwelcome when they appear in the middle of well-manicured Midwestern lawns. Dandelions arrive early in spring and continue to flower throughout the summer. If you take the time to look closely at a dandelion flower, you’ll notice that the flowers are really quite beautiful. The flower rapidly goes to seed, each flower producing a ball of white cottony seeds that children love to blow into the air, scattering them in every direction.
I remember, when I was a child, seeing groups of elderly women in house dresses and babushkas walking beside the roads picking them and placing them lovingly into gunny sacks. I was told that when the plant is young people gathered the plants to make dandelion salad. The petals made excellent dandelion wine. Native Americans and herbalists in China and in Europe prized dandelions for their medicinal properties. All parts of the plant are have been used for generations to cure such ailments as eye and skin infections, fever, diabetes, diarrhea, appendicitis, breast problems and kidney disease and more
So what’s your point, you ask?
Simple. Writers and marketers need to remember the lowly dandelion. As prolific as the plant is, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
It’s very easy to approach marketing and writing from our own single perspective. I have my own personal opinion of the plant, you have yours If you start trying to sell me ways to get rid of this pesky weed – even with the most brilliant marketing message – you’re not going to win my heart or get me to open my pocketbook if I am looking forward to a cup of dandelion tea. And, if you write glowing description a hill full of golden dandelions you need to understand that I may actually detest those ugly plants that invade my otherwise pristine green carpet of a lawn.
Another way to look at it is this. I want you to picture a house. I can tell you it’s a white house and leave it there. Will you see the kind of house I’m talking about? Maybe. Maybe not. You may well have a picture in your mind of a New England clapboard cottage surrounded by a white picket fence and an English garden. I, on the other hand, may be talking about a white-washed flat-roof adobe sitting out in the middle of the dessert.
The challenge is to transfer that precise image you have in your mind to me so that we’re on the same page, or at least, find something in common that we can both relate with. Until we have some meeting of the minds to begin with, we may find our discussion ending with very little accomplished. The trouble is, it’s all too easy to assume that everyone sees the same things we do – and have the same image and feelings that we do. Fact of the matter is, all communication, all interactions between people and all efforts at marketing and sales demand precise use of language if they are to be effective.
When planning communication and marketing strategies, it pays to take time to gain a little perspective. Step back put a little effort into the exercise, examine all angles, in different lights, close up and from a distance to gain a little perspective. Effectiveness depends on point of view.