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How A Turnbuckle is like Your Core Message

When a core message is framed right, it has the effect of bringing companies and their customers closer together. Like one of the simplest, most elegant, and effective little tools that does exactly what it’s supposed to do.

I needed three turnbuckles to set up a triangular shade sail in my backyard, so I went to my local big box hardware store. (Yes, that one!)

“Excuse me sir, can you tell me where to find the turnbuckles?”

(Blank stare)

“You know, a turnbuckle,” I tried to explain, “ a hook on either side of a little handle thing, screwed in using opposing threads so that when you turn the middle part, it pulls both sides in closer.”

{Blank stare)

“Uh, I don’t think we carry that.”

“OK, just tell me where the fasteners are.”

“Aisle 17.”

That’s where I found a whole section of turnbuckles and picked out the size I wanted. I was out of the store a few minutes later. (I paid for them first, FYI.)

Clearly, not enough people know what a turnbuckle is, despite it being one of the simplest, most elegant, and effective little tools that does exactly what it’s supposed to do without any fuss.

Thought to be invented in the late 1700’s by a British blacksmith named Jeremiah Wilkes, the first recorded use was for sailing ships. Because it’s designed to shorten the length on both sides of whatever it’s attached to, it’s much easier to use and more effective than adjusting each side separately. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnbuckle) Turnbuckles are now used in a wide variety of applications including construction, aircraft, rigging in the entertainment industry, pipe systems, and knee braces and other orthopedics, the kitchen table I built, and now, the shade sail in my backyard.

Turnbuckles are really, really useful.

I was tightening the turnbuckle on one of the three points of the shade sail, marveling at how one motion pulled in the shock cords on either side and in roughly equal measure, when, suddenly I realized that my fascination with this cool little tool was just like my fascination with core messaging.

Core messaging is the simplest articulation of the fundamental principles that connect how we do what we do with what our audience truly cares about. It draws on one side from the deep rooted values and operating principles within your business, and from the other side on the deep rooted desires and beliefs of your buyers.

Core messages are as unique and individual as the interplay between your business and your customers. And using this approach, I helped a high tech start-up increase their sales by 60% and become the dominant vendor in their space. I helped a not-for-profit access hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations that in their own words, they were just not able to access otherwise. Another high tech start-up identifies the work I did with them as being key to establishing their brand differentiation and leadership position with customers, strategic partners and analysts -- plus it helped them stay focused on their core strategy.

You see, when a core message is framed right, it has the effect of bringing companies and their customers closer together. Like one of the simplest, most elegant, and effective little tools that does exactly what it’s supposed to do without any fuss.

Hmmm, I bet you didn’t know you needed a turnbuckle either!


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Michel Neray


What really drives me is helping companies and individuals to drill down to the core of their unique value and differentiation, and then craft their Essential Message' that attracts and connects with audiences and stakeholders... including customers, investors, strategic partners, and top talent. As a professional speaker, trainer, and consultant for over 30 years, I've worked with leaders and sales teams in more than nine countries around the world, from Montreal to Moscow, and from Israel to Iran.

I love to lead workshops, speak at conferences, and work with clients one on one.... as much as I love to spend time with family, paddle whitewater, ride my motorcycle (hard), and write and perform my songs...

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