Break through the noise with your communication
Communication is not just delivering a message; it’s about getting the message heard and understood. Ideally, communication goes a step further. For our message to really matter, to be a “successful” communication, we need the receiver to interact and take action. Sometimes our communications are purely informational, but this is rare indeed; we usually try to elicit an active response: renew your membership, sign up for our newsletter, buy this widget, register for our conference, or call your legislator. Therefore, anything that is not an interaction is a failure. But how to break through?
People are People
Your recipients are your customers, members or prospects. They they are not dollar signs, numbers, bots or counters. So, first and foremost, remember that you are dealing with people. Every human being is different, with different sensitivities, likes, dislikes and thoughts about you and your message. Long gone are the days of Henry Ford when he arrogantly proclaimed that you could have his Model T in any color you wanted as long as it was black. Today we want to treat ourselves as the unique souls that we are. Fortunately, technology can help with this. Create your mass message as if you were sending it to just one of your favorites, then use technology to mass customize the message by replacing words, phrases, names and titles to tailor it to each specific recipient.
Roar like a partisan
Try guerilla tactics. Guerrilla tactics are the art of surprising and catching the recipient off guard, in this case, of course, in a good way. Your message can really get through to the CEO if you can reach them while they’re on their Saturday morning coffee break rather than in the busy office. Or, if you can catch their eye right after a game of golf or racquetball. Or while they are at a conference or on vacation. Which means being there in an unsuspected place in an unusual way.
Define partisans differently. Think of the guerilla approach as something your organization hasn’t done before or in a long time; not necessarily as something new to the world that has never been attempted before. Set aside a percentage of your communications for the partisan in you. Maybe 10-15% of your communications plan and budget. Then, as always, observe it, test it, analyze it, and even graph it. If it’s a successful tactic, it becomes part of the main plan the following year with 10-15% trying something new.
The old is new again
You can be a partisan by digging up old approaches and re-implementing them as part of your current plan. A great example of what’s-old-is-new-again is direct mail. Once a mainstay of marketers and communicators everywhere, direct mail has been all but abandoned over the past two decades in favor of low-cost mass electronic media. This makes direct mail the best to reach your recipient. Except during election season, recipients simply don’t get that much direct mail; thus, the scourge of piles of paper junk mail became a thing of the past generations. Direct mail may be ripe for reuse in your communications plan.
Other breakout tactics include sending holiday cards on unconventional holidays when yours might be the only one the recipient gets, or sending chocolates with your logo on them, or painting your car in your company colors in a wild, flamboyant way. Consider renting out a movie theater and inviting them to the premiere of a new anticipated blockbuster on the Thursday before the official release, along with popcorn and soda. Maybe try hiring actors to dress up as superheroes for selfies in front of your step and repeat at the town fair or before the big game. The point is: observe others, get ideas from TV and movies, be different, try new things. Breakthrough can mean… well… being different, being unpredictable, being creative.
Breakthrough does not mean breaking the basic rules of communication and marketing. This doesn’t mean sending less messages or too many. This does not mean rewriting the book or forgetting the proven science of the past. No, instead drilling means really remembering. Remember the golden rule that you should treat people as you want to be treated. You want to feel special. Make them feel that way. Remember to always use strong writing skills with proper grammar and punctuation while being as unique as you can be. And remember to stay within the guidelines of your organization’s philosophy, style and image. But then breaking it down means having fun with it, getting their attention, then telling them something worth hearing, seeing or reading.
If you found this article insightful and helpful, you might similarly rate the other three articles in this four-part series on communications: Goldilocks’ communication zone, Anatomy of a Communication Messageand Do it their way: Connecting with customers and members.
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