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What Can Marketers Learn from Greta Thunberg?

A girl looking out of a window inspires marketers.

Analysis, Content Marketing

At 16, Greta Thunberg built a global platform for climate change awareness using a keen awareness of authentic messaging

Marshall Lemon

February 08 2020

In two short years, climate change activist, Greta Thunberg, went from taking part in a solitary school strike to speaking passionately before the United Nations. Along the way, she managed to develop a global platform that cultivates awareness of climate issues and raises money for charity. Yet Thunberg’s words didn’t find a receptive audience by chance – she put forward a carefully-crafted message that resonated with listeners and meticulously managed its delivery.

In short, Greta Thunberg was outperforming many traditional marketers by the age of 16. Let’s take a closer look at how she accomplished this:

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Have a clear and concise core message

Much like other activists before her, Thunberg’s appeal revolves around her delivery of a clear core message. Whether you’re advocating for climate change action or delivering a branded initiative, your core message isn’t the time to get into the weeds of a particular issue. You want something informative yet concise, while still being easy to understand.

As you can imagine, doing so is particularly hard to achieve:

  • Thunberg’s United Nations speech is just over four minutes long. In that time, she clearly and passionately outlines the need for climate change action – this is her core message.
  • She uses a small number of facts and figures to back up her message but doesn’t spend much time dwelling on them. This gives her a degree of authority on the subject without distracting from the emotional resonance of her audience.
  • Thunberg’s concerns are serious ones, but that doesn’t mean she can’t use passion and emotion to drive her message home. Emotion is the most powerful tool for delivering any message – humans are notoriously irrational creatures, after all, which means we’re more likely to be convinced by feelings than facts.

Always be consistent

Another vital factor in any messaging campaign is consistency, which Thunberg reflects in three ways:

     1. Authenticity

Audiences are relatively savvy when brands are lying to them or when their message isn’t genuine. Thunberg, however, has consistently followed her principles throughout her campaign, even sailing to New York across the Atlantic to avoid leaving a carbon footprint.

    2. Staying on Message

Always stick to your core message as much as possible, repeating your goals during each communication. Don’t confuse consistency with mindlessly sticking to a script – refusing to respond to curveballs during public interviews can come across as disingenuous. The trick is to ensure it doesn’t distract from the main issue.

    3. Follow a Consistent Tone

Other commenters have noted Thunberg’s seriousness in how her message is delivered – she maintains composure and doesn’t smile during her UN speech, even when applause occurs. Having a consistent tone ensures your message is consistently understood. That’s not to say you can’t have a sense of humor – Thunberg certainly does – but do so in a way that won’t compromise the spirit and tone of your message.

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It’s Okay to Start Small While Aiming Big

Today, most people know of Greta Thunberg because of her persuasive United Nations speech, but her journey had far more humble beginnings. Her first moment of activism came when she skipped school – alone – to hold a climate change awareness strike outside of the Swedish parliament. The photograph of her lonely stand for a worthy cause proved to be just as powerful as any later image of her activism, jump-starting an entire movement.

Thunberg’s UN speech was impressive, but it would never have happened without those smaller moments that resonated with her initial audience. While there are exceptions, few marketers should expect anything else. We are often impatient to skip ahead in the story to the point when we have a reach of thousands of millions of customers, especially with so many online tools at our disposal. The better approach is to embrace being small, even if we’re aiming big. In fact, doing so might ensure that you’re building the right message during the crucial early stages.

This article was originally published by our friends at PostFunnel.

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