Using the right words makes people take action.

I’m not about to go all political (well, not really), but there are some fundamental truths about communications in the digital age that have shown up in the recent European elections.

First truth – be concise.

Clarity is critical for engagement.

I read somewhere last week (brilliantly) that the modern audience consumes messaging like they constantly need to take a piss. This is spot on. If you can’t get your point across clearly in the first few seconds, you’ve lost your customer. They will scroll on.

As somebody who lives with small children and an easily distracted husband, I relate to this on a very real level. There is no time to dance around a subject if you want your audience to take action urgently, in a time of – well – crisis. If the oven is hot, the message is ‘stand back’.

Second truth – speak directly to your ideal customer.

If you don’t, you risk losing them completely.

In my early days of writing, this was a trap I fell into all the time. Trying to please everyone by speaking to everyone. It just doesn’t work. And as the world gets more overloaded with conflicting messaging, it will work less and less. You are not addressing the nation. You are one person speaking to another. Hone in on the people who share your values, speak directly to them, whisper into their ear, and you will engage them, powerfully.

The SNP weren’t afraid of alienating their leave voters with their ‘Scotland for Europe’ campaign. It was a masterclass in clear messaging. Here are our values, here are yours. It won them a 38% majority and annihilated the Tory and Labour vote.

Elsewhere, the Brexit party was a lesson in clear labeling for the disaffected. Even a four-month-old party with a morally dubious leader can mop up if the positioning is right.

These days we expect options tailored to our preferences. Fence-sitting just won’t cut it, we need to feel that our politicians share our values, that they will stand by us and fight for us (whether they will or not is another matter).

Don’t make those mistakes in your own marketing. Speak powerfully and authentically. Reach out and engage.