How many pop-culture references are you able to spot in this brief video? Probably very few. Although it may seem strange, that was exactly the key to this TV series success.
When Amy Sherman-Palladino created the characters from the Gilmore Girls the first thing she did was give them a clear tone of voice. She didn’t mind if no one understood. She knew that there was a certain sector of the public that would be interested in dedicating hours finding the references from every episode. She was speaking to the Millennial, the ones who were fed Google and Wikipedia, who consider it normal to watch a TV series while simultaneously looking up the references on their laptop.
“Gilmorism” spread everywhere. There are dictionaries, books, blogs, tumblrs, T-shirts and pins dedicated to it. “Don’t worry, I speak Gilmore” became one of the slogans of that generation.
When I was working as a copywriter in advertising, I constantly debated with clients trying to convince them about the importance of having a tone of voice. Wanting to speak “to everybody” is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in communication.
Take a look at Apple, for example. Since day one Apple asked people to choose what side they were on: Are you a Mac or a PC? Jobs didn’t want thousands of people buying his products. He preferred to have just hundreds, but the kind who are willing to stand in line for hours.
Geniuses like Jobs or Palladino achieve a special connection with their public because, first and foremost, they make an effort to understand the way their audience communicates. And they do that because they don’t want just followers. What they want is real fans.
If you are having trouble reaching your target audience, maybe it’s only a matter of tone of voice. If you whisper to a waiter in a nightclub he won’t understand what you want. Stop and think about how the people that need to hear from you communicate, and start speaking their language.
You don’t need hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook, or thousands of followers on Twitter. If you know how to speak to your fans you’ll only need a few. They will be the ones spreading the word.