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How to Frame a Message to Increase Impact

How to Frame a Message to Increase Impact

Like a picture frame makes an image stand out for the viewer, framing a message makes communication stand out for the receiver.

Whether pitching for work, writing a blog or delivering a keynote address, your message will have more impact if it is framed in a way that makes it more acceptable to the audience.

In his book ‘All marketers tell stories’1, marketing guru Seth Godin says marketing is most effective ‘when you talk to a group that shares a worldview and also talks about it’. I agree. The secret sauce of a successful marketing program is a great story; a story that your audience is receptive to because it matches their worldview, so much so, that they feel compelled to share it with their family, friends, colleagues and the general public via their social media networks.

While tapping into the right worldview is essential for effective marketing, attaching a frame to a worldview is where the magic happens. For it is a frame that allows a message to attach itself to a pre-existing belief, value or attitude.

Marketers and public relations practitioners are acutely aware of the difficulty in trying to change people’s attitudes and behaviours. This is because when confronted with a new idea, we will interpret it based on the filters of our values and beliefs, and in the context of our experiences. Therefore, framing a message in a way that taps into a target market’s worldview, gives you a greater chance of cutting through the clutter and competition.

If, for example, you are required to sell a new brand of potato crisps, you may identify a market segment who thinks (holds a worldview that) ‘Salty chips are unhealthy so I don’t buy them for my family’. Framing the story in a way that matches their worldview could yield positive results, for example: ‘The crisps are made from organic, non-GMO potatoes, are low-fat and only lightly salted with unrefined sea salt. Contained within recyclable packaging, the crisps will only be available from the health food section of the supermarket’.

In his book ‘Stay on Message’2  renowned Australian communications advisor Paul Ritchie says we frame ideas about who we are and what we stand for, based on our values. Because of this, when presenting a product, idea or message, framing our arguments around these values and worldviews makes it easier for them to take hold.

The following are some useful frames to consider when developing a key message for your next news release, marketing campaign, coaching conversation or any other communication:

Values frame – frame an idea by attaching it to a pre-existing idea, value, belief or world view.

Purpose frame – frame an idea in the context of a purpose, for example, by drawing a connection between an action and a result or achieving a particular outcome.

Positive frame – frame an idea using positive language, for example, stating the desired response exactly as you want it.

‘What if’ frame – frame an idea in the context of the future, for example, ‘Imagine what could happen if you took this action’.

Middling frame – frame an idea in the context of a spectrum of choices, with the middle choice being the desired, plausible option.

©Ros Weadman 2018   Ros Weadman is the creator of the Reputation Equation™, founder of Melbourne PR & Marketing Group and author of BRANDcode®, a marketing guide for small business. Connect with Ros on LinkedIn or via www.rosweadman.com

1Godin, S. All Marketers Tell Stories, Portfolio/Penguin, 2009

2Ritchie, P. Stay on Message, Vivid Publishing, 2010.


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