Snouts, tofu and Beliebers…I mean, believers

woman with fruits and vegetablesHave you ever sat through a conversation with a new acquaintance who is “super excited” about something that interests you not even one iota? Like jazz-hands excited? Me neither. Of course, you’d encourage a friend who is stoked about her new hobby. But sitting through a rambling monologue with a neighbor who simply won’t stop talking about her new vegan lifestyle*? That’s when you have to take an urgent phone call, or your oven timer is going off, and you have to go pick Jimmy up from soccer practice, and stuff.

Now…(you knew this was coming)…think about how this relates to the message of your mission. Wait, wait…don’t jump ahead…in this scenario, you are the bubbly neighbor. I hate to do this to you, but someone needs to tell you: your step-by-step explanation of how field roast is made makes us want to gag. Somewhere someone wants to know all about it. Only that somewhere and someone are not here in your hood and they aren’t your neighbors who host weekly slow-and-low barbecue cook-offs.

So my point is that all the well-meaning enthusiasm in the world won’t matter when you haven’t done the work to identify and understand your “target audiences” (an understandably fraught term, but let’s just assume engagement is involved).

In the past, I’ve spoken about believers, agnostics and atheists (and right now I am imagining your faces when you realize that I am going to talk about veganism AND religion in the same blog post…worry not, it’s just a metaphor). When you think about the people you want to engage, at the very highest level, you must weed out the ones who will never believe in your mission. Beyond that, you need to understand your believers (not to be confused with Beliebers, because really?) and agnostics and develop messages that inspire them to act.

If you can’t hold back your flood of enthusiasm, at least acknowledge that the person on the receiving end of your message isn’t just like you and might not be as fired up about tofu as you are. You can point blank say, “I realize you aren’t as excited about [insert your equivalent of tofu here]. Will you humor me for a minute and at least look interested? Then we can talk about slow cooking beef, I promise.” You’ll get to let your jazz hands run wild and they’ll learn a tiny bit about your cause. You’ll get to figure out if they’re an agnostic who just needs a little more info to see the light, or if they are a hard core atheists who will never ever—no matter how excited and passionate and full of useful tidbits you are—give up their meat-loving ways.

There’s no point wasting time with people who don’t believe what you belieb, er, believe. Once you’ve said your bit, put your jazz hands away and move on.


*not that there’s anything wrong with a vegan lifestyle