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RIBS: The messaging framework for every company and product

Grilled pork ribs with barbecue sauce on wooden background

Over more than two decades of advising founders, I’ve heard all kinds of stories — good, bad and everything in between. While everyone is different, I’ve noticed that the very best stories have something in common: They pass the RIBS test. I’ve talked a lot about this over the years, and it’s stood the test of time and trends.

The test is designed to tell you if your story is memorable (will it “stick to your ribs?”) so you can turn it into a compelling message. It looks something like this:

  • Relevant
  • Inevitable
  • Believable
  • Simple

Relevant

Before you can come up with a good story, you need to think about the audience. Who are you trying to reach? Are you solving a problem they care about? What matters to them about that problem? Why does your solution deserve attention?

The test is designed to tell you if your story is memorable (will it “stick to your ribs?”) so you can turn it into a compelling message.

Marc Benioff could have launched Salesforce by describing it as an online way for companies to manage relationships with their customers. It’s true and it would have been interesting, at least to some people. But instead, Marc went bigger: He ran a campaign that described Salesforce as the “end of software.”

At the time, software was everywhere and it was creating all kinds of problems: It was massively expensive, time consuming and prone to failure. By taking on those issues, Marc made the company instantly more relevant to a bigger market and audience. The conversation went from a discussion of feature checklists, contacts and leads, to how an entire industry would change. Marc looked like a visionary — and Salesforce seemed revolutionary.

Inevitable

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