Ah, the beautiful art of excellent communication. There is nothing quite like it - how a combination of words can evoke such meaning and power when assembled in the right order and style.
But what is the right style? What is the correct order? How do you capture your audience, deliver your message clearly, and most importantly, encourage your readers to take action?
Every good communications strategy adopts a specific yet flexible formula, one that not only attracts the right readers but also keeps them engaged. It is this engagement, or ‘active’ readership, that ultimately drives the results you’re looking for.
Whether you’re drafting content for an online blog, crafting an engagement plan for a high-profile project or simply looking to increase your social following, here are the top 5 reasons why communications strategies fail...and how to get yours right!
1: The writer doesn’t understand their target audience
Not understanding your target audience is like baking a cake without a recipe. You know your outcome, but you are not quite sure how to get there. You are unsure of what ingredients to use and how to blend them. If you mix the wrong ones, at the wrong time, you could end up with a disaster.
Understanding your target audience is like being given a ‘cheat sheet’ at the start of an exam. It’s that little whisper in your ear that reveals to you the lay of the land - the context and sentiment of the audience you are trying to reach. By understanding your audience, you can tailor your pitch to suit their needs. You are better placed to know where you need to be, and more importantly, where you don’t.
2: The language is too complex
According to Microsoft, the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds. This is a sharp decrease from 12 seconds in the year 2000. So the last thing you want your communications strategy to be is complicated or confusing. Your stakeholders need to understand your message straight away and be able to share your message as if it was there own. Explaining key concepts in simple terms with as few words as possible is crucial to getting your message across and making it stick.
3: The writer has forgotten to tell a story
An effective communications strategy must include storytelling. Storytelling is what connects stakeholders to your vision and gives your audience their ‘why’. Without a ‘why’, a strategy becomes meaningless and near impossible to implement.
You must also be aware, however, to not overcomplicate your vision by including too many objectives. If you try to make your strategy ‘everything to everyone’, it will end up ‘being nothing to no-one’. The most robust strategies stick to a single vision, with a single end goal that is clearly defined.
4: The visuals look outdated and boring
Approximately 65 per cent of people absorb information visually, so accompanying communications with images where possible is essential. If done well, visual are also much faster to consume than traditional text.
With the average person exposed to approximately 5,000 ads per day, the competition to have your message heard is fierce. So the use of outdated imagery, wads of text or ‘busy’ imagery is a sure-fire way of losing your audience.
5: There is no supporting plan
Often, the creation of a communications strategy falls flat at implementation due to the absence of a clear plan. A clear plan is one that includes specific, quantifiable goals that are set along a reasonable timeline. What gets measured gets done, so committing to set KPIs or targets - however daunting that may be - is a top priority. A strategy without them is just a wish.
For those of you with eight-second attention spans - here is this article in summary:
‘Everyone’ is not your customer. To be effective, you need to know who you are selling to
Clarity is the most serious communication problem in business. Your goal isn’t to water down your insights; it is to communicate them succinctly
A strategy without a vision is like a letter without a stamp. It can never reach its destination.
Bad design shouts at you; good design is the silent seller
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it