Sunday, April 06, 2008

Getting the message right, revisited

A year ago, I posted about Albeo being interviewed by BCBR and us not doing the appropriate messaging prep work to get our story across clearly. Although the BCBR article turned out OK, we were determined to do better in the future.

I recently mentioned that the local TV station, 9News, did a story on us. It came up quite suddenly; they called us at 9:30 and arrived an hour later. (We had to run home to put on our dress-up clothes, since we were looking pretty shlubby.)

Before Ward and his cameraman showed up, we reviewed the key messages we wanted to deliver, and even wrote them up on the white board in the conference room where the interview took place. Jeff (Bisberg, Albeo's founder and CEO) methodically worked them into his responses to Ward's questions, and I was quite pleased as the interview progressed. By the end of the interview I was confident that, no matter what material they chose to use, our messages would get through.

Then, something weird happened. Ward realized that they hadn't yet filmed a 15-second teaser that would run in the half-hour leading up to the news program. Ward and I worked up a two or three sentence script for that while the cameraman set up the shot.

During that five minutes of shot preparation, Ward chatted about some vandalism problems occurring in his neighborhood. He lives out in the boonies on several acres of land with a driveway gate that's not visible from his house. He was thinking about putting a camera out on the gate, in addition to the current intercom, to check out visitors remotely. He remarked that there's not adequate light out there for the camera, and I pointed out that he could install Albeo lights with integrated motion sensors so they would light up as soon as someone came up to the gate. I also noted that Albeo's lights are rugged enough to stand up to potential vandals.

So, what happens next? The cameraman gets the shot set, Ward picks up the mike, throws out the few sentences that we wrote together, and ad-libs the teaser with something about Albeo's "vandal-proof" LED lights. Vandal-proof?! Among our top ten important differentiators, that may be number 25. Seriously, he leads with vandal-proof?

After carefully staying on message for 45 minutes, we slip off message for a few minutes at the end and we get stuck doing vandal-proof lighting. Obviously, we're targeting that huge prison lighting market.

Clearly, the moral of this story is that one must always stay on message. Always.
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