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How can visual models help us get more cut-through? | PBA

How can visual models help us get more cut-through? | PBA

The Xfactor Collective intellectual property specialist Renée Hasseldine spends her days helping thought leaders make a bigger impact with their stakeholders through visual models. Today, she shares two that will not only help you get cut-through, but more importantly propel your stakeholders to action.

When your audience is subjected to thousands of messages per day, how can you grab their attention, and then hold it long enough for them to take action?

If your organisation is going to achieve its mission and make a difference, the ability to communicate in a way that not only gets attention but has your audience taking action, is critical. You want more than people smiling and nodding politely. You want them saying “Hell yes, I’m in!” and doing exactly what you ask. 

“You want more than people smiling and nodding politely. You want them saying ‘Hell yes, I’m in!’ and doing exactly what you ask.”

If advocacy and education are part of your organisation’s mission, you need to structure your materials, presentations, workshops and trainings for optimal response. If you deliver programs and services, you need to attract the ideal participants and provide structure and clarity for optimal outcomes. And when it comes to fundraising, you need to ensure that your pitch stands out from the crowd, makes complete sense and is an absolute no-brainer. 

In my decades of experience working with thought leaders, changemakers and innovators, the most powerful tool for impact and influence, that overcomes these challenges, is visual models. 

In a world of short attention spans, visual models will help you:

  • quickly say what needs to be said
  • help you avoid drowning your audience in the complex detail
  • help you get the balance right between emotional and rational

Four types of models

There are four key types of visual models required to create a complete message. Using this structure to categorise and organise your thoughts makes it much easier to unpack and unravel the details. The four models are as follows:

  1. Success model – Shows what it takes to achieve the success your audience wants.
  2. Educate model – Educates your audience with a powerful structure.
  3. Excite model – Excites and inspires your audience to take action.
  4. Yes model – Has your audience saying “yes, yes, yes” to the obvious benefits.

I’m going to take you through the educate and excite model to show you the impact you can make with a visual story.

Taking action – the educate model

An educate model is all about showing your audience the step-by-step process to get the desired result. Member-based organisations who are providing skills or tools to upskill their wider teams would find this approach very useful. 

The example here is a five-step process that shows an organisation how they might become more visible through video marketing.

As you can see, the educate model uses verbs, because it is about the actions that need to be taken.

Most of the time, there is a chronological order and the shape chosen is linear to reflect that. To create an educate model, ask yourselves the following questions:

  • What is the starting point? Point A
  • What is the desired outcome or result? Point Z
  • What are all the things that need to be done to get from A to Z? 

Write these on post-it notes. One idea per post-it note. Then, categorise all the things that need to get done into between three and seven groups. Put them in chronological order to form the basis of your educate model. This is a fun exercise to do as a small group or team, and you’ll be amazed by what you create together.

Build the buzz – the excite model

The purpose of the excite model is to get your audience excited and inspired to take action by showing them what is possible. Every social purpose organisation could benefit from an excite model on the home page of their website – imagine the instant excitement from possible partners, collaborators or supporters. 

One of the main options here is a model that demonstrates a case study as a classic zero to hero story – this might be one of your organisation’s beneficiaries that shows how your organisation helped them in their journey (e.g. a leadership program for young people). The model provides a clear structure for an aspirational story.

When sharing your excite model, it is best presented in the first or third person, which allows for your audience to naturally assess their own situation. If they see a gap between where they are and where they want to be, then there will be an urge to close that gap and therefore take action.

To create a hero’s journey-style excite model, map out the journey as follows:

  • Beginning – Introduce the main character and set the scene.
  • Interest – Acknowledge progress on the journey.
  • Crisis – Introduce the challenge or struggle.
  • Transition – Describe the solution and transformation.
  • Climax – Describe the desired outcome.

A brave new world – The hero journey

This excite model example is from the So Brave Model Ambassador (SBMA) program, which is an organisation that creates annual calendars featuring the stories and breathtaking images of young women who were diagnosed with breast cancer before 40 years of age in iconic and beautiful locations around Australia.

excite model example from the So Brave Model Ambassador (SBMA) program

The SBMA excite model helps the organisation tell the story of one of their ambassadors, such as “Jodie” (name changed to protect privacy).

  • Life: Jodie was living her “normal” life with her husband and two young kids.
  • Diagnosis: The breast cancer diagnosis came as a total shock.
  • Treatment: Then the pain, trauma and isolation of treatment took its toll.
  • Empowerment: Through the SBMA program Jodie was able to reclaim her body, raise awareness and embrace a community and opportunity that empowered her to make a difference.
  • Legacy: Jodie has contributed to the So Brave legacy, raised awareness, fundraised and created a beautiful keepsake for her family for generations to come.

Each ambassador in the SBMA program can use this visual model to tell their own story when raising awareness and speaking at fundraising events. The applications for the organisation include keynote presentations, training, recruitment of ambassadors, website, social media, videos and more.

As you can see, when it comes to communicating, your visual models will do the heavy lifting for you. You’ll be able to better attract attention, communicate clearly and succinctly, and ensure your communication achieves the desired result.

Three tell-tale signs that you need a visual model

  1. Complex information – You have been told that your information is complex and hard to understand (could be from an internal or external source).
  2. Consistent messaging – What is said about your organisation depends on who is speaking and you want to ensure that consistent key messages are shared.
  3. Competitive landscape – You are not the only service or solution provider in your sector, and you want to quickly demonstrate your point of difference and get a yes quicker!

About the author: Renee Hasseldine is a specialist business member of The Xfactor Collective, who specialises in intellectual property, signature systems and visual models, and helping organisations have clearer communications using a proven four-model system.

Each week Pro Bono News and The Xfactor Collective present a Collective Insights column, answering common questions and challenges experienced by social changemakers. You are welcome to lodge questions for the column by emailing [email protected]

The Xfactor Collective is an Australian-first community where changemakers go for expert support and advice, including pre-vetted specialists across 100-plus areas of specialisation, specialist triage support services and a free video library.

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