Purple Space Helmets and Communication 101

Danielle Putnam
Contributing Writer
President, The New Flat Rate

A friend of mine is about to open her first restaurant. Well, not really. She’s a long way from being ready to open the doors. But the framing for the kitchen and bar area has been set. Now for all of you Entrepreneurs out there, well I’m sure you can agree with me…that’s progress, right?

So earlier this week, before the sheetrock was mounted, she texted a group of friends and asked us to come write words of blessings on the frame boards. Naturally on a Monday night after a long day in daycare, my three-year-old did not want to go with me to some other location away from her toys and her room…to write words of blessing on someone’s skeleton wall. In attempts to appeal to my three-year-old, I said these words, “Palmer, please come with me to a really cool space, and then afterwards we will come home and play with your toys!” She happily walked towards the car.

As we approached the building, which was an old brick warehouse if you can imagine the type, my daughter Palmer asks, “Mom, may I have a purple one?” Purple is her favorite color, she always wants a purple one…but a purple what? “Mom, may I have a purple space helmet?” I thought to myself, “Oh isn’t that cute, she’s so imaginative, she’s pretending she’s an astronaut!” To which I responded, “Yes of course you can have a purple space helmet!”

Fast forward a few steps as we entered the building, and she instantly cried aloud in terror, “Where are they! They’re not here!” I didn’t know what she was talking about, so I quickly handed her a purple marker and sent her towards the 2×4’s to make her mark.

Thirty minutes later, after she’d colored every board she could find, we attempted to leave, and a tantrum broke out. My sweet Palmer was screaming in hysterics with tears streaming down her face…all the other moms stared at me as if to cast blame because I couldn’t control my child…but wait a minute, why was she crying?

It still hadn’t occurred to me, the words I had spoken to her. I had said earlier, “Let’s go check out a cool space.” She had said, “May I have a purple space helmet?” Wait, what? It was all coming together now, I began to see why she was crying as she kept hollering for her purple space helmet…the purple space helmet I had promised her when we got to that really cool ‘space’.


How often do we spend our precious hard-earned money on marketing…and market the wrong message?

We have good intentions, but good intentions do not clarify the message nor the expectation. When we market a new product, service or discount, are we also asking ourselves, “How would my customer receive or interpret this message?”

Going back to the basics is hard. Stepping outside of our busy lives is hard. Our phones are ringing, texts are dinging, technicians are calling, office staff are calling, everyone wants to push their agenda onto your plate…but to make sure it’s not all in vain, to make sure we’re reaching our target, we must step outside of the busy noise and ask ourselves to first:

·       Clarify the message

·       Simplify the message

·       Maximize the message

·       Multiply the message

More than likely you’ve heard this before. I live and breath this, and still I get it wrong. We fail forward daily, but in our failing, we also succeed when we slow down and say, “Hey wait a minute, ‘what’s the message I need my audience to understand and how does it benefit them?’”

Marketing fundamentals were established for a reason, just like parenthood. Listen to your child and don’t promise without understanding what you’re promising.

So of course, I’m off to find the latest and greatest space helmet so I can redeem my child’s faith and confidence in her mother, so she can TRUST that I do what I say…just as we all want our customers to trust that we’re providing what our messaging promised.

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