Which tools are best for making a message with impact?  It depends.

  • Who do you want to reach?
  • Why?
  • If you’re successful, what would that look like?
  • And how would you know?

It’s common for folks to start at the wrong end of the process. Often, they’ll focus on a tool they want to use. Like this: “We need to get the word out; we need a press release.” Or, we need a video that “will go viral.” Or a brochure, PowerPoint deck, Facebook page or Twitter account. And so on.

You get the idea.

But those are tactics, not impacts. In other words: it’s like getting snagged in the details of whether you need a rake, a hoe or a trowel to weed, when what you want is a thriving garden.

The big picture is the savvy view. That’s the focus that makes sense. Let the outcome you want drive the tools you use and inform the process for getting there. So, instead of focusing on the specific product you think you need, zero in on the outcome you want. Only after deciding on that goal can you devise a targeted approach to reach it.

Sure, if you want to influence an audience, you’re bound to include social media. And specific tools. But first, be clear why you’re choosing those options. Know what they need to know, why.

Audience is important, of course. But so is framing the information the audience needs to have. Tell them what they need to know so it enables you to make your point.

Starting at the end: the desired result

See, it’s not about just doing something — anything. It’s about getting results. If your message gets scattered to the wrong audience or is sent without finesse, it won’t make the impact you want. Worse, it could undermine your efforts. And turn off people you wanted to win over. You might not get to come back for a second try.

Even if you know what you want to say, distilling your message can be tricky: The outcome must be guided by answers to some key questions:

  • What do you do?
  • How do you do it?
  • Why does it matter?
  • Who needs to know?
  • What do they need to know? And, why?

You might decide to call in a consultant to advise. That’s what I do for clients: Help them put ideas together in fresh ways and offer insights that not only create impact but also unearth value.

If you find, though, that you are facing a project without an outside perspective, you should still remind yourself to focus on the end result you want and work backwards.

It’s only that way that you can find the best steps to take to get there . . . and to get out of the weeds.