One of my colleagues, the excellent Rene Michalak of Red Deer, Alberta, was creating a project called the MEGGA Watt project. From that name you, like I, might assume it was some alternative energy project. He was putting tonnes of stuff out about it on social media but I never really ‘got it’. I liked him. Respected him. Wanted to support him. And was totally confused and too busy to really dig into it.
It’s a good note to remember: the confused mind says no. And here’s another one: very few people will work very hard at all to understand you.
As I tried to understand it more, I found myself overwhelmed with jargon: permaculture, stacking functions, obtaining many yields from a single element in a system, systems analysis, Micro-Energy Generating Garage Assembly, Geodesic domes, Growing Dome, environmental footprint, Climate Battery, environmental impact, subterranean heating and cooling system (SHCS). closed-loop, zero-waste systems, aquaponics and aeroponics.
Some of those terms I understood. Some I didn’t. Taken in together it felt overwhelming. And I had no idea how it all tied together or what it even was.
Until we sat down together and he told me the URL: www.foodgarage.ca
Food Garage? Oh! Suddenly this was all beginning to click.
What do they do at the Food Garage? They turn your garage into a year round grocery store that could feed a family of four.
And a grocery store that is powered by green energy.
I immediately got it.
Now, the MEGGA Watt project had had a tagline: The Rise of the Food Garage but, amazingly, I totally didn’t catch that.
1) Choose a name that is simple for people to understand. If it’s not totally clear, at least make sure it doesn’t send a different message entirely. A nice thing about this name is that it names the two main things involved and it’s also an oxymoron – it combines two things that normally don’t go together which is often compelling for people and evokes curiousity. And the name also speaks to the result people get – your garage will produce food. Such a simple idea!
2) Make sure the relevance of what you’re offering is clear. Don’t get lost in the technicalities of HOW you deliver that result up front – first make sure they understand the result they’ll get and the problem you’ll solve if they work with you. See if you can sum it up in seven words or less. ‘Turning Your Garage into a Grocery Store’. Easy. Once they understand that, the details all just help to build the case of how you can get them where they want to go. If you read the top of their homepage, I think they’ve really nailed the result they’re offering:
“You’re about to find out how to turn your garage into a veritable organic grocery store that can feed a family of four for an entire year, produce all of the renewable energy you’ll need to do it, learn practical skills that will amaze your friends and family, and seriously increase your property value, all in the comfort of your own backyard.”
3) Cut the Jargon. Whenever possible – eliminate jargon and write at a grade seven level. Get rid of big words in your sales copy. Eventually you’ll need to educate them and use those words. But that’s further down than the initial sales conversation where clarity matters more than anything.
4) Use metaphors. Turning your garage (a real thing) into a grocery store (the metaphor). We understand what a grocery store is and so it can help us picture what the thing is without needing to understand all the technical stuff.
And you can check out a sweet video explaining the project here: