Great leaders simplify their messages. As a dealership leader, are your messages the most powerful? Think of Ronald Reagan, often called the Great Communicator, and some of his famous messages. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” at the Berlin Wall. Or after the Challenger disaster, “They touched the face of God.” The title of his biography by his speech writer Peggy Noonan says it best — Simply Speaking.

We must work to make our messages simple. Our work is valuable and vital. In corporations, the so-called elevator speech is short, simple and powerful. In our business, if you can’t explain something while sitting on the tailgate of a pickup, you’ve made it too complicated.

Here are some examples of “Tailgate Talk” messages. Can you explain, in 90 seconds:

  • To your customer, why you must charge for your investments in precision farming support?
  • To a large competitive user, why they should buy from you?
  • To your banker, why acquiring your neighboring dealer is a good decision?
  • To your employees, what your mission as a dealership is and why it’s important?

What is the value of crafting a short, simple, powerful message?

1. Cut to the Core. Creating a tailgate talk requires choices. Most of us can think of many important things to share. We often mistake more content with a more convincing argument. As my dad said, “If one’s good, two’s better. Just get a bigger hammer!”

Thinking about the core of your argument is vital. Thinking about and ranking the most important part(s) of your argument requires you to choose what must be included, what can be dropped. Of the few things that are most important, how can you say them with the most powerful, efficient words. It’s better to choose words with one or two syllables, and to choose words with the most meaning. Choosing the right words takes time.

2. Cutting Through the “Clutter” & Short Attention Spans. We hear numerous messages every day. As the messages become greater in number and come at us faster, it becomes harder to hear “the message.” A simple, powerful message cuts through the clutter better, and as a result it is more apt to be heard.

With the rapid pace of today’s communication, our attention spans are shorter. You have 3 seconds to capture the attention of a millennial on your website and social media. They are used to making quick decisions about what to hear or what to quickly discard and move on. Short attention spans are a factor in all of the examples we cited above.

3. Consistency & Repeatability. Putting in the work to craft a strong Tailgate Talk means the message will be easier to spread and will be repeated. As the leader of an organization, your words will be repeated. Make sure they are the right ones.

Remember, repetition of a message is vital to ensure everyone “gets the message.” The U.S. Army has a saying; “There are always 10% of the troops who don’t get the word.” You must repeat and over time as you repeat, your words and message must be consistent so different people don’t hear different messages.

Start with Why

The best short, simple, powerful Tailgate Talk messages include the Why (the purpose) before the How (the process) or the What (the product). To craft your Tailgate Talk, start with Why. The How and What will come later.

Here are some insights from the best selling book by Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.

Some examples of asking why are:

  • Why does your company exist? (Not profits; profits are the result.)
  • Why should people care?

To motivate action, you can manipulate or inspire. Manipulation includes: price, promotions, fear, aspirations, novelty and peer pressure (endorsements), and is best for transactions that will likely only happen once, not building loyalty. Inspiring people requires a real purpose — a “why.” A clearly expressed why helps separate you from the rest and builds loyalty and relationships. As humans, we want to belong to communities and culture. We want to be a part of a tribe with the same purpose.

As you grow your dealership, remember that people (customers, prospects, vendors, employees) identify with companies and brands that articulate a clear “why.” They cannot identify with the “what” (the product) without the “why.”

If you’re going to sell more and inspire the people around you, spend the time and energy to craft your best Tailgate Talk messages.

July/August 2017 Issue Contents