Communicators have become lazy and cheap. When a new message is upon them, or when the last message did not attain the desired reach, the modern communicator can, unfortunately, be heard mumbling under their breath “we’ll just put it up on Facebook.” There is so much more to really communicating with your clients or members than just posting another post on social media.
As electronic communications became reliable a few decades back, the market quickly realized they had found the holy grail. This new medium was, after all, free of charge, requiring only the time to craft a message and maybe throw in a few graphics. As long as we had our own list of email addresses, the cost would be zero, or near zero, considering the investment in application tools to assist. Social media didn’t change this seemingly profound business tactic, but exasperated it. The problem is, and was, it is a fail as it reaches a much smaller target than we care admit.
I, for example, do not generally use Facebook, except for my job; so, if I am that Chamber’s or Association’s member, am I receiving the communication when posted there? If I am a VIP client of that organization, am I getting the message? Obviously not. Replace Facebook in the above with ’email’, ‘Twitter’, ‘YouTube, ‘Parler’, ‘Rumble’ or any other e-communications medium and the same issue exists – not all members use that e-medium. Or, perhaps they do, but not often. We have been doing it wrong!
Do It Their Way
Leaders, members, clients, staff… all people, really, have preferences. They do things the way they want to do them, not the way we want them to do things. This is especially true in communications. We need to go to where they are, not try to force them to where we want them to be. Does a particular VIP prefer email? Text? A phone call at 11pm after the family goes to bed? We need to meet them where they want to be.
With mass communication to clients or members, we need to be more fluid and comprehensive. We need to blanket the mediums, not just choose one and call it done. So, whichever is their favorite, we are there. The problem is, as we move from the macro to the micro, more specifically, to the individual, we do not know which is their favorite. And, time and funds are not unlimited. Most of us cannot afford to hire a full-time compliment of employees just to post on all of the relevant socials while still communicating via tradition means.
The Secret Sauce
So, if we must be where our members and clients are, but we do not know where they are, how do we select the right mix of mediums? The answer lies, as with most recipes, in selecting the best ingredients for the desired reaction and determining their blend. In our case, we must blend electronic mediums with physical mediums.
Electronic mediums are email, e-newsletters (of which we often fool ourselves by saying they are different than email), our website, and social media. The best combination for the small, nimble staff is to use a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly e-newsletter with scarce and sparse separate additional emails, reserved only for the most important of the annual communications. This should be supported strongly with three to five social media platforms onto which we can copy and paste the same message then make minor platform customization tweaks. The experts in social would argue that every platform is different, with a unique language, tempo, and vernacular; thus, such an approach is careless and unsophisticated. Though I agree when debating the finer details of comparing and contrasting platforms, this is simply not realistic for the small organization. Stick to the cut-and-paste for the biggest bang in the shortest time.
If we stop communication at the electronic door, we will miss upwards of 30% of our members and clients. Some will never see it as it will be buried in their e-piles of junk. Others will unsubscribe. Still others will change jobs, which changes their email or social address, without informing us. And, yet others will commit us to junk, spam, or e-file 13. Thus, the tried and true hard copy mediums must be part of our plan as well. Post cards, magazines, fold-out brochures, enveloped letters on letterhead, flyers, and tri-fold pamphlets are all options. As are text messaging, voice calls, and even robocalls, if done right. The communications art is in the blend, portions, and touches with each medium. Of course, most of the physical mediums have an exorbitant price tag as compared to electronic which is why most chambers, businesses, and associations have fled these mediums altogether. But, that is also why the physical mediums are so much more effective than they were for our parents and grandparents – they are just not being used much anymore, so when used properly, they make a splash.
Communication is about style, substance, writing the perfect copy, the best timing, and having something worth saying. More importantly, however, it is about being where the receiver is so they can receive that magnificence that is your hard work. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a message is sent on a medium on which your client is not monitoring, do you make the sale? Keep the client or member? Survive as an entity? The medium mix, doing it their way, might even be more important than style, copy, substance, or timing. At lease you break through.
If you found this article insightful and useful, you may similarly appreciate the other three articles from this four-part series on communications: Break Through the Noise with Your Communication, The Goldilocks Zone of Communication, and Anatomy of a Communication Message.