Steve Woodruff Bio PicIn our previous article, Site Strategics’ article The What and Why of Clarity, the King of Clarity Steve Woodruff filled us in on what clarity is and why it’s needed. In this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into how you go about achieving clarity, based on our interview with Steve in EDGE of the Web Episode 296 sponsored by agile digital marketing company Site Strategics.

Quick Highlights


Three Formats for Clarity

When a company has figured out its core identity, focus and messaging, this information then needs to be boiled down into snippets, stories and symbols because these are what the human brain likes best.

  • Snippets are very short statements, phrases or sentences that are highly distilled to immediately get right to the heart of things in language readily understandable by regular people. Most business people have trouble with this because they tend to say too much, which is not helpful when you’re trying to achieve noise-cutting, RAS-busting clarity.
  • Stories. The human brain is hard-wired to love stories, which make them a great way to bypass the brain’s RAS filter. This could be an origin story, a customer story, a success story and so on. The brain automatically tunes into and remembers stories, which is the key to getting referrals. The emotional impact of stories is far greater than what can be achieved with bullet points. Companies have to stop speaking in bullet points and start speaking in stories.
  • Symbols are another great way to achieve instant clarity. Whether it’s by analogy or metaphor or a picture or graphic illustration, if you can embody your company’s core in a symbol, it will lead to clarity. For example, if you describe the Edge of the Web as the Mercedes of technology podcasts, you attached what the symbol of Mercedes means – high quality and exclusivity – to your podcast.

You can see how this is refreshingly different from what has become the more typical approaches to marketing in recent years – the stuff that ends up being mere noise. When you have developed your “clarity articles of engagement” – the basic, fundamental, clear statements about your company, then they can be deployed throughout everything a company does. Use them in the website, sales, messaging, all of the marketing, even in formal and informal networking meetings and events.

External and Internal Clarity

To reap the full benefits of clarity, it’s important to apply not only externally but also internally. Many of a company’s employees aren’t fully aligned or engaged with their company because of this lack of clarity. Internal clarity is every bit as important as external or outward-facing clarity.

When non-profit organizations are considering taking on a new project or program initiative, they often speak in terms of whether or not there is a good “fit” with their mission statement or if it can pass a kind of mission filter test. The same holds true for any for-profit company. When you achieve internal clarity, it becomes a powerful way to asses “fit” – whether it’s deciding who to hire, making an acquisition, taking on a new client and so forth. Think about the power of a clear story about your company that is told to new employees and can also reinforce a company’s core DNA to current employees. That’s how you get everyone on the same page, aligned and engaged with the company and moving in the right direction.

External clarity and internal clarity go hand-in-hand with each other. Both are necessary.

Need Clarity? Be Hungry and Humble

There are really only two prerequisites for achieving clarity. You have to be hungry and humble. When you’re hungry, you know you have a need and you have to figure out how to meet that need. And then you have to be humble enough to know you need help to meet that need because you don’t have the objective, outside perspective needed to get you there. The biggest barrier to companies achieving the kind of clarity that cuts through the noise and gets you heard and referred is thinking you’ve got it all figure out and don’t need any help. That’s why the pathway to clarity requires being hungry and humble.

Connect with Steve Woodruff’s Ideas on Clarity

The Book:

King of Clarity on Facebook:

Clarity Over Coffee short video snippets:

Clarity Fuel website: