Those reading this article will have (at least) one thing in common – we all work in the marketing industry, different disciplines maybe, but all unified by the professional imperative to be effective communicators.
As the proliferation of our communication media continues, you’d be forgiven for thinking that communication is becoming easier. But you’d be wrong. Effective communication is more challenging than ever (as many people seem intent on proving!), precisely because there are so many messages competing for our audiences’ attention – whether that’s our colleagues, customers or the broader public.
To break through the clutter, communication needs to be brought into the very heart of every business, ensuring all communications (both outbound and internal) support a clearly defined brand identity. And beyond just having an effective corporate comms police, all customer-facing staff need to assume responsibility.
So, let’s explore what makes up communication.
Simply, there’s message and delivery. Substance and style. A “what” and a “how”. And both require equal consideration when generating effective communication. So a few ideas to help communications throughout 2017:
First, and obviously, let’s hope you have a message. While I’m sure we can all think of exceptions to this rule, it’s not generally advisable to embark on communication without having something of substance to convey. So please, be the rule and not the exception.
With your message in mind, you now need to consider how you’re going to communicate it – and you need to answer a couple of simple questions to help support this decision.
- What outcome do I want from this communication? Have clarity of purpose.
- Who is my audience and how do they best absorb information? Show empathy. And then you need to consider the execution.
- Remember the overarching objective of any execution is to aid transmission and comprehension of the message. Ensure clarity.
- Consider what tone is required. Formal, irreverent, sales-oriented, indirect? Be versatile.
- Remember your tone needs to reflect your brand – a natural extension of the personalities and philosophies that are behind it. Be credible and authentic.
- Choose your media delivery carefully. Social, email, printed collateral, video, PowerPoint? The existence of more platforms doesn’t excuse you scattering messages over as many as possible – assess which ones will be most effective for your audience. Be selective.
- Make your communications stand out. Experiment, take risks and be creative.
- Above all, remind yourself the platform and style used to convey the message should complement your message, not overpower it. Be subtle.
And now, the real challenge – doing this consistently and ensuring the whole organisation delivers high standards of communication at all times. Only once everyone is actively contributing to the vision of outstanding communication can your brand become legitimately renowned for it.
- Be aware of the range of touch-points that you have with your customers – email, phone, CNY card, sales visit, point-of-sale, after-sales interaction … you’ll need to develop guidelines for visual, audio, tone, maybe even dress code – but develop and apply a unifying framework across each of them.
- Understand that even the most functional day-to-day communication can be leveraged to elevate your brand image. Remember that every interaction is an opportunity to impress (or not …).
- Treat internal communication with as much attention as anything customer-facing. Get into good habits.
- Make communication a way of life for your company and share your best practices and successes. Create an internal lexicon.
- Provide best-practice examples, but allow self-expression within them. Your communications have to continually evolve and improve – remember that Darwin chap. Empower your team to develop your corporate voice over time.
The human capability to communicate so richly is what truly defines our species from others, and we at Kadence believe this information era makes effective communication a crucial driver of any organisation’s ongoing competitive advantage.
We therefore invest heavily in all of our communication, making a particular effort to deliver our research findings in an immediately accessible fashion.
Research is our discipline, but our communication is what makes our proposition unique. What’s your discipline, and how will you improve your communications to propel you through 2017?