Hot Buttons for Communicators

Screen Shot 2019-09-25 at 5.46.06 PMIt was really interesting recently to hear a group of seasoned communicators/ marketers call out some of their biggest frustrations these days.

Any of these sound familiar?

Experience vs. “Let’s run a test”

There is nothing new, of course, in so-called experts handing out advice about areas of communications for which they have no practical experience.  But a new twist seems to have touched a nerve.

Experienced this one before?

After hearing the situation and the challenge/opportunity, the experienced professional tells the group seated around the table that best practices strongly suggest a certain strategy and/or tactic.  She knows her recommendation is the right step.  She’s utilized it before herself, and she’s seen how others have benefitted from the same action.

It works.  It’s proven.  It’s the appropriate counsel she should provide.

Enough said.

Well … not really.

Across the table, there’s a voice (maybe authoritative, maybe a bit nervous).  He says:  “Well, we can run a quick test and sample 100 people and have an answer back to you by next Thursday.”

A colleague (also on that side of the table) seconds the idea, the meeting concludes and the sampling initiative essentially kicks the issue down the road.

  • Best case: The issue somehow resolves itself during this period of inactivity.
  • Worst case: The lack of action exacerbates the threat or causes the company to miss the opportunity.
  • Likely case: The data that comes back from the sampling is not really helpful and doesn’t provide any useful additional context.

Question to consider:  If you need to run a survey to provide a piece of strategic advice, should you really be positioning yourself in the first place as an expert on that issue?

Reality to remember: The fact is, the experienced practitioner’s advice not only includes best practices, it probably also includes results from studies that have been conducted through the years.

Deadlines vs. quality

It’s getting near crunch time, and there seems to be a growing opinion from the key decision-maker that the only way you can meet the deadline for providing your strategic recommendation is to sign off on a deliverable that might not be as good as it should be.  Quite simply: the boss can’t deal with any more comments or recommendations.

“It will be good enough,” he says.  “We can always play with it later and make it better.”

Wrong.  “Good enough” simply is not acceptable.

Why is it, then, that some people allow a deadline to define “good enough” rather than have a goal of developing “best possible” by that deadline?

Why is it, as well, that we can’t prioritize “best possible”?  A wise colleague once commented that “the client will remember that it was bad, but if it is good, they won’t remember that it was a day late.”

His advice?  Speak with your boss or client, tell them you are “close but, in another 24 hours, it will be much better.”  It’s honest counsel.

Remember the old adage “you only get one chance …”?  Not only is it memorable, it also is true.

Marketing price vs. marketing need

So, here’s the issue: The $27,000 car is going on sale this weekend for $24,900.

Question: Is the “value message” that you have teed up going to resonate equally with:

  1. A person who had already planned to go car shopping this weekend?
  2. A person who is not currently in the market (for whatever reason) for a new automobile?

As marketing plans are developed and then implemented, it is critical not to lose track of your original compelling idea.  If your business rationale is to sell solutions that address a need, your messaging must not only reflect that need, but also your solution.  If you are basing your appeal on price, you better make sure that your targets are actually in the market for what you are selling … otherwise, you are just sending messages off into thin air.

Messages not only need to touch people, they need to touch the right people – who also might in fact be thinking about the same issue at the time you touch them.

So, net-net … if I’m not thinking about car shopping this weekend, it isn’t likely that the discount price is going to affect me.

$14 is more than $9

Sometimes, in fact, your messaging is pretty simple.

Like …

  1. $14 is more than $9
  2. Qualified is better than unqualified
  3. Local is better than not local
  4. Experienced is better than inexperienced

As communicators, we love to write and develop messages that we believe really underline the differences that advantage our clients or our employer.  But, sometimes, those messages are just empty calories or bumper stickers that really don’t do the job.  Sometimes we overthink (and overwrite) and lose sight of the real message.

It may be beautifully written or presented, but ask yourself: Does it do the job?



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