Will Crisis Communications become the New Standard in Marketing?

April 8, 2010

It occurs to me in today’s modern era of communications that we are overloaded with information, and this in of itself causes stress.   Thus I am beginning to employ certain best practices, outlined in a risk communications workshop I attended in ’08, into our marketing approach.  Below I list a few highlights from my notes  (I give all credit for these concepts to Vince Covello and The Center for Risk Communications).

Most important message should always be first
Common sense? Sure, but how often do you send an email to your target market and not insert the call-to-action until the third, fourth or fifth sentence?

Well constructed visuals increases attention and retention by 50% or greater

I typically avoid using image heavy messages when emailing to a large list but I am re-thinking this bias and am certainly focusing on imagery (charts, diagrams, photos) in all our print pieces (yes, I used the subtitle as an excuse to use the photo.  Is that wrong?  It proved a point!)

During times of stress the adult brain processes information at the average level of a 6th grader
Today,  I focus on keeping our communications simple.  We avoid as much jargon as we can (especially jargon that is generated internally).


Rule of 3 (27-9-3)
“When people are stressed or upset, they often have difficulty hearing, understanding, and remembering information …and typically can only process 3 messages at a time.”  Expert crisis communication managers use a total of 27 words or less for all 3 key messages, with each key message averaging  9 words in length.  I love the concept and use this template as a guide in improving the effectiveness of our marketing communications.

27-9-3 in action
“The number of casualties is more than any of us can bear ultimately.
And I believe we will become stronger.
Stronger economically, politically, and most importantly, emotionally.”
– Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Sep. 11, 2001

No more than 3-4 bullets on a PPT slide
This is consistent with everything we have learned about great marketing presentations (and the Rule of 3 above).  You want a blog that absolutely sleighs this topic?  Check out  Garry Reynolds blog entitled Presentationzen.  Follow him on Twitter at @presentationzen.

In this crowded world of email newsletters, blogs, white papers, etc. a well thought out marketing strategy using risk communications best practices may be the correct path to grabbing our market’s attention. Email me if you want more info on the topic or how we are employing this approach at CHA.  You can also search “27-9-3 and Vince Covello” to access lots of additional content on the topic.



Keep it Simple

April 5, 2010

Confucius said “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” This rings so true in marketing. The companies who “dumb it down” are the ones who rise to the top and stay there … see Google, see Apple, see USA Today.

We often get fixated on certain terms and phrases, and our personal bias prevents us from clearly communicating to our market. As a B2B marketer you can never assume you are your market.

My firm’s business is predicated on bringing pharmaceutical companies together to work cooperatively to evaluate new R&D technologies. For years we avoided the word “consortium” to describe ourselves. We thought of “consortium” negatively and did not want to be associated with the term. Thus we started our own game of Taboo describing the business with words like “short term, multi-company projects,” “collaborative projects” and “collaborative innovation.” Our personal bias generated complex and inaccurate messaging resulting in confused (and/or unimpressed) prospects. We made our job much more difficult than it had to be.

Today, when describing our service to a big pharma executive I simply say “we manage an industry consortium to collaboratively evaluate new technologies.” It was Winston Churchill who proclaimed, “all the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word.” In our case, this single word is consortium.

Here is a fun and entertaining presentation by David Pogue of the New York Times during TED 2006 ….his focus is on technology …but the message is similar .. simplicity sells!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.