Communicate Like an Angry Old Man

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Filed under: Marketing Notes

Communicate Like an Angry Old Man

Two effective communicators have been in the news lately. One is an old man running for president. The other was an old man who wrote his own segment for “60 Minutes”. Getting angry about the status quo is part of both of their job descriptions, and throughout the decades they have demonstrated how to build a loyal following through channeling that anger into effective communication.

The angry old men I speak of are 76-year-old Ron Paul and the late Andy Rooney, who died November 4th at the age of 92.

Luckily, you don’t have to be old or a man to build a relationship with your audience. You just have to follow the same rules that Ron and Andy did, and don’t be afraid to get angry.

Be Consistent

People respond to a consistent voice and message, just as they appreciate a reliable product. In return, they provide consistent companies their patronage and the most effective advertising there is—word of mouth.

Andy Rooney is proof that consistency does not have to be boring. No one could predict what he would write about next, but he would always deliver his opinions with honesty and a sense of humor. He would often get angry, but his voice would not waver. It was always the same old Andy, pointing something out that had most likely been rattling around in the heads of many for years.

The world of politics certainly  favors consistency, which is why “flip-flopper” is such a dirty word. It represents a sudden change of stance and implies that the only reason for the change was to increase electability. Whether you agree with his policies or not (keep in mind that I’m not talking about what he says, but how he says it), Ron Paul’s messages have changed very little. Earning the trust of his constituents, Paul was elected to serve 12 terms in Congress, first in the 14th District and then in the 22nd District of Texas.

Be Simple

Avoid big words that people don’t understand.

Ron and Andy have spoken to ordinary Americans like ordinary Americans. Using a conversational tone and common vocabulary is not only respectful, it’s just plain easier to understand. Never forget that the purpose of words is to convey ideas. Small words and short sentences almost always produce maximum impact.

Be Direct

Hopefully there’s a point to what you’re saying. Get to it.

Andy only had “A Few Minutes” to speak his mind. He never wasted them.

Likewise, presidential candidates have small chunks of time often as tiny as 15 seconds to answer a question or respond to an opponent. In this video from the Iowa Republican Debate held in Ames on August 11 of this year, Ron Paul is forced to quickly make his counterpoints and punctuate his argument with one simple and direct message.

If you can keep your message consistent, simple, and direct, your ideas will resonate, and more people will pay attention. Before you know it, you might even have a core group of die-hard supporters, just like Ron Paul and Andy Rooney, two straight-talking, angry old men.

–  James