May 17th, 2010Communicating authentically
We all know that “Things have changed”. The people have spoken and they want open honest “authentic” communications. They don’t want to be called “consumers”, “target audiences”, or “prospects”. They want companies to be open, trustworthy and “not be evil”. They want to talk to real people, on the communication platform of their choice – whenever they want. They want companies to listen to them and their opinions heard. Most importantly, they want to connect and build relationships that are built on mutual respect and understanding.
If you dig a little deeper into human communication, some psychiatrists will tell you that almost 90% of all communications between people has an intent to control. We feel more comfortable if we can predict what the other person will say and influence the outcome. Psychiatrists also say that; the more you try and control your messages, the more out of control you feel. When you are more focused on creating a favorable impression, than communicating authentically, you are reinforcing your fears and anxieties.
This is completely counter-intuitive for marketers! We create messaging strategies, scenario maps, response charts and outcome predictors based on how our controlled messages will be heard. We test messages, test more messages and change our messages all the time “to maximize impact with our target audience”. We basically shove messages down the throats of our consumer targets, until we find one that resonates, whether they like it or not! Are we really listening to people? – There is an enormous difference between communication that comes with the intent to relate and communication that comes from the intent to control. Healthy communication fosters connection, trust, intimacy and respect. It’s not about getting people to do what you want, It’s about creating mutually beneficial solutions.
Companies are made up of people, so it should be easy for brands to find their “human” voice to communicate authentically. It is easier for new brands, like Zappos, that have grown up in this digitally connected social world to do this, but I believe that even companies that have been around for “a-while” can “open-up” and communicate authentically with the help of these: Ten thoughts about authentic communications.
1. It’s about trust and transparency.
2. It’s about the story – real and truthful
3. It’s about real people, talking to real people
4. It’s about listening, asking questions and letting people be heard
5. It’s about commitment to a dialogue and being available
6. It’s about being prepared to engage in real time
7. It’s about being a leader that values the others opinions
8. It’s about embracing the negative and truley trying to change it
9. It’s about being sincere, honest and not replying from a legally approved script
10 It’s about offering something of value to the conversation