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?
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.