Tag Archives: communication

Communication problem? Ask a nurse.

Ok, this may sound weird, but indulge me for a second.

We are in the communications business. Even though our clients’ businesses may run the gamut, we often rely on the same methods of communicating, just with different subject matter.

Recently I was privy to an internal communications project where a consumer marketing company tried something a little different. The discovery portion of the project involved interviewing professionals completely outside the company’s industry to see how they communicate. Professions where clear, simple and efficient communication is critical, like nursing and emergency response, were sampled. I say, “Brilliant!”

This got me to thinkin’. Too often, we get so caught up in our own lingo and best practices that we lose sight of what we really are in this business to do—solve problems and communicate. Approaching every problem with the mindset of getting our point across as clearly and impactfully as possible should be the criteria for every project. Never mind what the industry says we’re supposed to do.

People respond to the unique. Unique doesn’t always have to mean outrageous or shocking, just different from what the audience is used to. Talk to me like everybody else talks to me, and I feel like I’ve heard it before. Talk to me differently, and I feel like you have something interesting to say. Anything other than that gives me little reason to look up from my smartphone.

— Kurt Miller, Associate Creative Director


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Don’t believe everything you think.

It’s a good life philosophy. But it also rings very true in the wonderful world of advertising and marketing communications.

It’s all too easy for marketers to drink their own Kool-Aid and serve up pablum. Some are so steeped in their own corporate culture that they fail to look at things from the market’s perspective. As agency folks charged with delivering campaigns and messaging that moves the needle for our clients, it’s our job to ask tough questions. Many times, it can be very difficult to get clients to take an honest look in the mirror.

This may come as a surprise to some, but advertising (and communications, in general) can’t fix everything. Sometimes, there are underlying operational, product development, or customer service challenges that must be addressed first — with as much gusto, passion, and urgency as directing an agency to come up with a killer campaign. Always, it’s critical to get honest about what value you’re delivering to your customers and prospects, how you’re delivering it, and whether it is truly meeting the market’s needs. There are just too many alternatives to whatever it is you are selling.

Keep the following question in mind when you start touting the merits of your brand: SO WHAT? Most times, that’s the first thing that pops into my mind when I see or hear any type of sales pitch. And it’s how the company answers that question that determines whether I will do business with them or not.

It’s just not enough these days to rest on the laurels of a storied brand. You have to be in touch with your audience’s needs and address what’s important to them. You have to fix what’s broken before you can effectively communicate how terrific you are. Or, if you can’t fix everything, be honest about who you are and what you can deliver, letting people know you’re working on the known issues. People appreciate honesty, not false promises or arrogance.

So go forth and ask yourself why you think what you think about your brand. Is it because you’ve been told to, you’ve always done it, or it’s in the company handbook? Or is it really true? Then get honest about your strengths and shortcomings with your agency partner. I promise, the work will be better. And your customers and prospects will respect your authenticity.


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