If you’re anything like me your ‘to do’ list today is a long one. For me, it features eight phone calls to drum up more business, four meetings to rearrange, a workshop to scope, a piece to write for LinkedIn and that cohesive, beautifully imaginative design work we’ve just completed for some hospitality lounges I must to show to all our prospective clients.
For a client I’ve just been talking to, the priority on his ‘to do’ list is launching a new blood glucose monitor. He’s impatient to tell the entire global healthcare system about its benefits. For several months he’s been waiting to pounce on customers, to share with them this brilliant new product.
Does this sound familiar? Do you have similar imperatives? Is your ‘to do’ list driven by the need to get out there and inform the world what you do? It’s likely it is. Who doesn’t plan on charging out there and telling people how good their work is? And why it’s such good value for money?
But there’s a catch
The thing is, for the most part, we all know we’ll be ignored. It doesn’t matter what channels we use or even if we use all the channels – after all, our segmented target audiences have 24/7 access to as many devices, subscriptions, feeds and groups as we do and operate in many of the same environments. In the end, they’ll still ignore us.
Nobody will take any action beyond a quick acknowledgement. In our case it’s ‘Nice design’ or in our client’s case ‘Good device; great price’. Our target audiences are drowning in an ocean of new, cheaper and ever more relevant stuff. Like us, they’re subject to information overload and their list of ‘to do’s is as long as ours.
So I’ll own up. We’re a creative communications agency and we don’t operate like that. We’re all about collaboration whether with you – our clients – or a target audience on your behalf. We wouldn’t dream of simply firing off information about our lovely new design work and we’re not going to just ‘tell’ everyone about our client’s new medical technology device. It’s not what we do.
What do we do instead?
If you come to us, the first thing we’ll do is separate what’s urgent from what’s important. And then we’ll work out how to engage a target audience in meaningful communication. That means communication aiming to make it into the top half of their ‘to do’ list – or at least prove a reasonable distraction from their ‘to do’ list. How? It will be a two-way communication. In other words, we’ll be working out how to get people to respond and then engage with us.
To accomplish this we need to understand how audiences like to communicate. So we always start by learning to understand how an audience absorbs information and, using this, work to create a community with shared interests. We think about the context and aim being as granular as possible.
How do we do this?
We’ll ask about their interests and about their practice. We’ll share what people tell us even if it doesn’t directly help sell your work. We’ll do whatever we can to build a dialogue. Trust me, you’ll be surprised how energised and effective a dialogue can be.
And when we share the stuff we’re learning we’ll make it as creative and visual as possible. We’ll make it intuitive because we respect people’s time. ‘A picture is worth thousand words’, so the saying goes – actually, recent research suggests people remember only 10% of what they’re told and only 20% of what they read, but remember 80% of what they see.
Off the back of this, we’ll finally introduce your work to its audience, explaining how we and you think it will benefit them, but also ask which of its benefits are most important. Indeed, this is exactly what we’ll do for our medical technology client. We’re fairly sure of the answers (our client is the best when it comes to their R&D), but we know people like to be asked. And that’s important.
You see, while we produce a lot of promotional stuff, what really gets talked about us within any customer segment is the vast amount of opinion seeking we do.
For example, we were recently asked to promote a publication and, taking heed of its concept ‘physician heal thyself’, we started by asking our target audience their opinion. We got five replies. So we repeated back to the wider audience the things the five people had said. This time, we got 125 replies. Since then we’ve launched the publication and attended events where the brand’s been present, and it really causes a stir. As planned, it’s building a reputation for representing a segment of the audience.
I asked you what was on your ‘to do’ list today. Would you do me a favour;
would you add another item to your list – an answer to a question from us here at Page & Page? Namely, what’s your favourite form of communication? I mean what gets you to respond? What gets your fingers flashing over the keys with something to say? What does someone have to do to resonate with you, that makes you feel you just have to say something?