Communications is key to any positive, enduring relationship. What is true in our personal lives holds true for organizations and their clients. So why, then is it such as surprise when asking a business leader: “what do you want a reader to do with your proposed communication once they’ve read it?”
Effective communication, and especially when it is left behind on a website or social media channel, must have a specific purpose. Consider that there may realistically be three (3) ways for a reader to react to your communications.
- To Change Your Thinking
- To Change Your Feelings
- To Change Your Behavior
Let’s start from the top. First, the communication may end up changing a reader’s mind about a topic. Your organization may want the reader to think differently. There is great evidence that effective communications can change a mindset. Campaigns such Buick’s “It Doesn’t Look Like a Buick” or Apple’s “There’s an App for that” certainly expect to change how we think. All of the words and images match the direction of changing your mind about yesterday, today and tomorrow in light of the new products.
A second goal of a communication is alter your feelings. Marketers know that emotions sell products. We all know that often we buy on impulse rather than reflection. Writing intended to alter feelings is often jarring or sentimental. Think about FedEx’s advertising slogan,”When It Absolutely Positively has to be there overnight,” or Jared Jewelry’s “He went to Jared” promotions. The former implies wisdom and confidence, and the later elicits love and generosity. Who would dare, in business or love, to miss those messages?
Finally, impactful communications can intentionally change behavior. Promotions such as Nike’s “Just Do It” or the gentler version from the nonprofit world that offers us “GivingTuesday” prompt immediate behavior changes. The reader is expected to get up and run, jump or otherwise kickstart their exercise program. And that means right NOW! GiveTuesday has centralized a theme to donate to worthy causes on the day and weekend after spending on ourselves and our loved ones. While it may raise awareness that we should be more selfless, the message provokes us to do it today.
A communication strategy needs to start with a specific goal. Choosing to change thinking, feelings or behavior is an excellent way to focus the writing of a specific communications feature. Knowing the goal before writing the content is critical to keep the writing concise and to render the desired result. As the Lewis Carroll quote goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Yet if you are certain of your direction, you can lead your reader down Robert Frost’s “road less traveled, that will make all the difference.”