The Vampire Effect: Do Your Messages Suck or Stick?

Have you ever seen a cool ad, but can’t recall what it’s actually for? You’re experiencing the Vampire Effect, a term coined after a study conducted by MediaAnalyzer Software & Research, which results concluded that attention-grabbing content—from sexy images to celebrity endorsements—was sucking attention away from what the ad was actually trying to say.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re already familiar with SHARPs, a tool used to make complex messages more easily understood and memorable. Remember, SHARPs stands for Stories, Humor, Analogies, References and Pictures. We often talk about SHARPs as a way to make messages stick. Today, take a moment to consider if your SHARPs suck attention away from your Point of View.

The recent LifeLock ad campaign asks: “Why monitor a problem if you don’t fix it?” The “Dentist” spot features a patient receiving the diagnosis that he has the worst cavity they have ever seen. Without fixing the cavity, the dentist and hygienist break for lunch and leave the poor patient helpless in the dental chair with swabs and tubes hanging from his mouth. Yes, humor wins the battle for attention, but clever analogies win the war on understanding.

In a lot of ways, we’re all in the advertising game. Our everyday communication, whether talking to our clients, spouse or kids, are campaigns of connection and influence. Because SHARPs are so fun to use, it’s tempting to use them without too much thought or discipline. What makes the LifeLock ads, above, really land is how they connect. Distinguishing between “monitoring” and “fixing” identity theft is an intangible that’s hard for us consumers to care about with much urgency, until we imagine ourselves in the same situation.

Remember: grabbing attention isn’t the same as being effective. Hardwire SHARPs to your POV to shift from merely entertaining in the moment to having lasting influence and impact.

Can you think of another example of SHARPs in advertising?

What Does Your Face Say about Your Leadership?

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” We’ve all heard that. But what about the face you present to your colleagues or a potential group of investors? It matters, too. Leadership is not just how we communicate ourselves verbally, but visually. As a leader, your facial expressions can set, or … Continue reading

Stop Compartmentalizing: Find a Story to Tell

Last week I was working with an executive, and he got flustered. “I can’t think of a story,” he said. I told him, “Just think about it – the stories will come to you.” And sure enough, they did. Why were we looking for stories? Not just because it’s trendy … Continue reading

Ring in the Humor

Bobsled. Halfpipe. Hockey. Figure skating and speed skating. Slalom. Ski jumping. Even curling. With 3 young boys in the house, we watched a lot of Olympic coverage this year. My personal favorite moments are always the opening and closing ceremonies, and I was floored at this year’s closing ceremony. Of … Continue reading

Green Means Go

Do you remember the movie Gone in 60 Seconds? Even if you remember it as a bad movie, it’s a good reminder about how quickly we can lose our audience. The first 30-60 seconds of our presentations, speeches or reports are always the hardest part. Physiologically, it’s when our hearts … Continue reading

The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back

I’ve heard over 100 presentations on philanthropy and giving. I spend a lot of time recording people speaking on video. Luckily, many of us are motivated to give back, and we want to urge others to do the same. This is not a complaint – instead, there is a great … Continue reading

Video Blog: Steve Jobs motivated with numbers

Before coming up for air from the new Steve Jobs biography, I stumbled across a great example of how to motivate people by using graspable numbers. We call this a SHARP (Stories, Humor, Analogies, References and Quotes, Pictures and Visuals) using human scale statistics, which we’ve covered before but will again because … Continue reading

The Power of Story

At a recent speech the presenter before me started out with a story, followed by another, and another. All linked to points. Brilliant, and so rare in business presentations today. He warmed up the audience, and I was grateful. “Story” is the S of our SHARP principles. Story is also … Continue reading