Ya Got Trouble

My three great loves growing up (besides Charms Sweet & Sour Pops) were music, theatre, and words — reading and writing, but also singing, talking, word games… you name it. So naturally, “The Music Man” holds a special place in my heart. Especially with Robert Preston as Harold Hill, and especially this song:

Is there a better example anywhere of the fun and flexibility of language? Well, maybe. But I can’t think of one at the moment.

“Ya Got Trouble” is an important song for the character of Harold Hill because while we’ve gotten hints so far about who he is, it’s the first time the audience is exposed to the full force of his power as a salesman (and a grifter). Harold Hill knows the power of words, and he knows what he can do when he chooses his words well. He’s nailed his brand voice for sure.

You’re not a scam artist like old Harold, and you’re not trying to put one over on your customers — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a page from the Music Man’s book when it comes to thinking about how you should be “talking” (writing, posting, broadcasting, etc.) to your audience. An engaging, consistent voice across all your communications tells customers who you are as an organization — what you value, how you approach your business, and what it will be like to work with you. Your customers might not have “trouble with a capital T,” but by the time your song and dance is finished, they should have a feel for what they can expect from you.

So when you’re taking stock of your communications, from newsletters to social media posts to advertising to your website, here are some questions to consider as you think about how you “talk” to your audience and what that says about your organization:

  • How does reading this make me feel? How would it make a new customer feel?
  • Does everything we write sound like it could have been written by the same person? Where it doesn’t, is that intentional or accidental?
  • What are the words that stand out? How do they represent my business?
  • If reading this is the first or only interaction someone has had with my organization, what will they know about us? Who will they think we are?