2020: Is it even possible to plan communications?

Climate change. Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, robotics. Lack of clarity around Brexit. U.S. Presidential election. Overall sociopolitical uncertainty.

These are just a few key market dynamics that will impact business in 2020. So why bother setting up a communications strategy at all, right? If everything is going to change in a few months why not just embrace “semi-controlled chaos” in our messaging, outreach and reputation and influencing strategies?

Resist this idea.

Sure, everything is changing around us all the time, but it always was changing.

Not this fast, you say? Not at this level?

Consistency in who you are in the market is the way to get the market to notice you, as much as launching a brand new idea. Sure, we want people to believe we just invented the New Big Thing — with as much enthusiasm as the launch of the Internet, the iPhone, and the scientific proof that wine is really healthy for you. (Okay, I made that last one up.)

The key to gaining quality attention (i.e. attracting people who are seeking what you have to offer) is to showcase a consistent story, which includes delivering quality, effective products and services while acknowledging the trends and changes around them. Clients and customers want help they can rely on, but which includes how you are listening, improving and responding to them – not just debuting “what’s new” all the time.

If you change your story frequently it sends the message you haven’t nailed down your strategy, products or delivery mechanisms. In other words, it shows chaos. Why give your customers a reason to delay in engaging you?

The Most Overlooked Part of a Powerful Message

Nouns. I lead with the punch line.

Far too many companies and organizations lead with the benefits, the adjectives, and the scintillating catch phrases, forgetting to do one simple thing: tell your audience who you are and what you do using simple-to-understand nouns.

How many times have you read: We bring unparalleled results to your most thorny problems instead of We can fix your computer?

Unless your brand is Apple or Dell or Google, no one can actually hear what you are saying (or read what you are writing) if they don’t hear a noun.

Your organization is an airline, a computer technology company, a retail store, a nonprofit association that represents lawn mower manufacturers or something entirely different. But, it is something. Say it. And, say it early.

3 Parts of a Powerful Message

A few weeks ago I spoke to a leadership group for our regional Chamber of Commerce. The topic was crafting a powerful message and story and distributing it with impact. It was a good refresher for me just to prepare for the meeting.

Over the last 25 years as a communications professional, I’ve seen business leaders spend countless hours on ensuring their financial house is in order, their processes are efficient, and their employees are engaged and productive. Yet, when it comes to developing their organizational narrative, too many believe one afternoon – too often an hour during a board meeting – will produce an influential elevator pitch about who they are and what they are about.

The same holds true for a blog post about messaging. A few paragraphs describing the positioning and messaging a company should go through aren’t enough. But, at least below are a few ideas to get someone started.

Three basic elements of a powerful message:

  • It is compelling. Use a page turning, double-taking lead-in. Make your elevator pitch interesting to your target audience (not just to you).
  • If differentiates you. How are you unique, really? Excellent customer service is no longer a powerful differentiator. What do you bring to the table that only you may claim?
  • It is marked by truth and accuracy, which, by the way are not always the same. But, that’s another blog post. Ask yourself, what can you really deliver? What is believable? What can you say that tells the real story about you?