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Writing Using Talking Points

In order to tell a great story, you need brand messaging and talking points to help clarify your message. Brand messaging must educate your audience on a problem that exists, position your organization as the guide who helps them address that problem, and gives them a very clear action plan on how to take action.
In this article, we’ll walk you through a simple framework to help you clarify your message so people actually engage.
Talking Points Components

Controlling Idea
The controlling idea is ultimately what the main focus and purpose of your video is. It’s important to only focus on one controlling idea, adding too many can distract from the ultimate purpose and confuse your viewers. The brain can only take action on one idea at a time, therefore simplifying your message is crucial. This idea should directly correlate with the point you're trying to make in this video. Keep your controlling idea short, interesting, and memorable.
Example: Connecting and strengthening communities through distribution of surplus food.
The controlling idea is crucial because it’s the idea you’re trying to get people to memorize. If you don’t have one, no one will know what your video is really about.
Story Question
The story question is the question you want people to ask themselves when they watch your video. By proposing a question in your video, you keep your audience engaged and inspire them to take action.
People love to solve problems and answer questions, and by asking a very direct question in your video, you trigger the emotion directly correlated to problem solving. The only way viewers will know the problem to solve is if you put the actual question in your campaign.
Example: How can you serve your community through involvement with Good Neighbors?
Agitate the Problem
Defining the controlling idea and the story question tell us what the main purpose of this video is, but the story doesn’t begin until we address the actual problem.. We need to explore three types of problems your audience is experiencing: the external, internal, and philosophical problem. When we define the problem, our audience’s interest is piqued and they begin to enter the story.
External Problem
The external problem is the direct problem that you are addressing.
Example: People are in need of food and many businesses find themselves with excess, edible food. We need to connect our community to serve those in need.
Internal Problem
The internal problem calls out the feeling or emotions that correspond with the external problem.
Example: Food insecurity leads to tough decisions. When families have just enough money to buy food for the week they are left with nothing to pay the bills.
Philosophical Problem
Finally, the philosophical problem speaks directly to why this problem is just plain wrong. The philosophical problem can be an extreme case, but it is very helpful to communicate the intense impact of this problem.
Example: No one deserves to go hungry when businesses and organizations are discarding excess food.
Define the Stakes
In every good story, there's always something at stake for the main character. When you define the stakes you are stating what will be won or lost when you achieve your campaign objective. This is a great tool to motivate your audience and clarify the impact of not taking action. With the stakes, you ultimately want to write out what great things will happen if you achieve your objectives, and what terrible things will happen if you do not.
Example: Food insecurity can have wide and complex impacts including: serious health complications, damage to a child’s ability to learn and grow, difficult decisions for families, individuals, and seniors. In fact, over 3 million Florida residents are considered food-insecure.
Position Your Organization as the Guide
In most stories there is always someone who shows up to help the hero accomplish their goals. We call these people the trusted guides. Your nonprofit is the trusted guide. You're not the hero in the story, your audience is. When you position yourself as the guide, you are the expert in the story here to ensure the hero wins. The hero needs to take action and you are here to tell them how. Positioning yourself as the guide demonstrates empathy and authority.
Empathy Statement
Demonstrating empathy is crucial to connecting with your audience on an emotional level. Ultimately we want to make your audience feel something when they are watching this video.
Example: We understand that food insecurity is a complex problem and you aren’t sure how to get involved. By supporting our work you are helping to form community connections and bring food to those in need.
Statement of Authority or Competency
After you have expressed empathy, it's time to demonstrate your authority. A statement of authority or competency uses success stories, statistics, testimonials, and other social proof to demonstrate that your organization is fully competent and capable of addressing the problem. This section helps ease any doubts the viewer may have about your organization's competency.
Example: On average, our volunteers complete over 1,000 food pick-ups per month.
The Plan
Now that we’ve let people know where we want to take them and why it’s important, it’s time to tell them how we’re going to get them there. The plan is the part of the communication strategy where we walk people through how to take action with us. Keep it simple. Try to fit the plan into three steps.
People like groups of three because it’s easier to retain.
Example:
Apply to Volunteer
Help Redistribute Food
Increase Food Security in Florida
Call to Action
With any communications campaign, you have to spell out your call to action and tell your audience exactly what you need them to do. Without a call to action people are left wondering what they are supposed to do to get involved. Deliver the call to action with confidence and invite people to participate in your campaign.
Example: Apply to volunteer today.
Foreshadow the Climactic Scene
Like any good story, we want a solid ending. A great story is continuously building up to a climactic scene where everything is resolved. In your video, you can foreshadow this climactic scene, giving people a vision they can head towards. This vision should include aspirational statements about what your audience and those you serve can look forward to after getting involved.
Example: Your involvement with Good Neighbors helps connect and strengthen your community and work toward eliminating food insecurity.
Back to You
With these 8 sections of your talking points, you should have what you need to craft marketing materials that tell a clear story and drives people to take action. You can put these sections in almost any order to shape your content.
Example Video Script
Over 3 million Florida residents are considered food-insecure. This can lead to some tough decisions. When families have just enough money to buy food for the week they are left with nothing to pay the bills. No one deserves to go hungry—especially when businesses and organizations are discarding thousands of pounds of excess and edible food every day.
Good Neighbors connects and strengthens communities through distribution of surplus food—and we need your help! Apply to become a volunteer and help us pickup and redistribute unused food to community members that need it. Together, we can connect and strengthen your community and work toward eliminating food insecurity.
Apply to volunteer today.
Use this framework to tell a great story through video. You’ve got your brand messaging and talking points to clarify your message. Use brand messaging to:
educate your audience on a problem that exists
position your organization as the guide who helps them address that problem and
gives them a very clear action plan.

If you have any questions feel free to email Marketing Mission at hello@marketingmission.org.

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