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Client growth

Getting communication right

In my first article I wrote about making the right decisions for your business, and then touched on how to communicate your message. There’s a reason there are A LOT of communications specialists around: because the discipline is so broad. Internal and external communications both have unique considerations and corresponding channels, so in this article I want to focus on HOW a business leader can deliver news internally.

The nuances in communications – for instance, sharing a piece of good news versus announcing a new company strategy – need to be considered very carefully, as it is vital that the message is delivered coherently, considerately, and with care. This may sound obvious to those of you who are GOOD communicators, but I’ve been in company announcement sessions looking at the Partners of my firm asking myself “What the hell are they on about?!”, and wondering how what they’re saying impacts the rest of the team. 

I actually find that internal communications can be muddier than external. In part this is due to the levels of familiarity that colleagues, sub-teams, teams, departments and offices all have with one another, not to mention the range of communications channels. From memes to memos, from signage to WhatsApp message – a new starter might find it takes him or her quite a while to figure out what the hell is going on, unless internal communications has been carefully strategised. 

An organisation’s size and composition and the frequency in which its leaders want to communicate are likely to be two of the biggest influencing factors when it comes to deciding upon the most appropriate communication channel. Some of the most popular platforms in use at the moment include: 

  • Slack – calls / messages 
  • Workplace by Facebook – newsfeed, calls / messages, you can do polls, set-up events – like facebook for people, but for businesses to use. 
  • Microsoft Teams – calls / messages. I tried to find other features, but the only feature that makes it unique is that it’s part of the Office 365 which your business may have anyway so it’d be free but so are most others! 
  • WhatsApp – calls / messages 
  • Skype – calls / messages 
  • Moxtra- software that is white-labelled and customisable- so everything from calls and messaging to task management and document storage. 
  • HipChat – developed by Atlassian – calls and cloud storage, apparently has good security and good search functionality 
  • Trello – subsidiary of Atlassian – ‘collaboration tool’ 
  • Atlassian – project managing / comms
  • Blink – messaging and cloud storage
  • Fuze – calls / messages 
  • Zoom – calls / messages 
  • Chatwork – business social networking tool for small businesses (chats can be conducted privately or in a group. Chatwork also offers task management, video calls and CMS). 

From what I’m aware, all chat platforms have the ability to have groups set with a topic, just like WhatsApp group, so rather than being a ‘new’ feature, it’s something we have all come to expect. But in terms of business software, the list is much, much bigger! And when it comes to server storage, collaborating on live documents, accounting, expenses, HR, project managing, social media management, website software, marketing mailers and CMS, the list is endless! 

We spoke to Communications & Engagement specialist and famed copywriter Helen Greenwood and asked what she considers to be the three most important aspects when developing an internal communications strategy. Helen’s response was “audience, relevance and timing”. She followed on to say: “People are far more likely to pay attention to a piece of communication if it’s clear that it’s relevant to them – for example, if the content of the communication influences how they feel or act. That means businesses have to think very carefully about how to craft and position their communications if they want their target audience to take notice. As most organisations comprise multiple audience groups, this may mean that one message has to wrapped in a range of ways in order for it to land successfully and achieve the intended results”.  

To discuss your communications issues or complaints for how communication travels or gets lost within your organisation, please get in touch with us via Contact button, we’d love to help.

Categories
Client growth

What is External Marketing

By definition, external marketing is the action of promoting your business to people outside your business, otherwise it’s internal marketing and that definitely has lots of benefits too. External Marketing takes many forms, it can be your website, social channels, market research, advertising to clients or your target audience, media coverage etc, the goal is attracting new business and winning more clients. Everything that is communicated to people outside your business needs to be ‘bang on the money’. The communication has to speak directly to who it’s targeted to. This doesn’t always have to be for commercial gains, it could be to attract new talent to your company or to celebrate a milestone or an amazing new hire. I like to think of it as beating a large drum! 

My company, External Marketing, helps businesses get better known – my five word strapline! I think it’s clear and self-explanatory what we’re about, the objective is to tell my clients that our specialities are broad but ultimately we will help them ‘get better known’. I started my career in the press office of Vivienne Westwood, which began to teach me how my marketing degree was relevant in the real world. Having the brand/media alliances for the right product was the main prerogative, but the day-to-day for the interns was juggling the product across the publications. I continued for four other roles in PR before moving into Business Development and then in roles that crossed over Business Development, with PR and Marketing. Big lessons were learnt along the way and I’ve tried to learn as much as I can from every experience, looking at how businesses attract clients, win business, market themselves properly, use various channels of communication and what to do when you’re busy vs when you’re quiet. 

Positioning your business right is something that needs time, care and precision. Time needs to be spent thinking carefully about who your business is and where you want to be positioned.

According to the citation on wikipedia – the most detailed explanation I could find on market positioning- it is ‘one of the most powerful concepts of marketing’ and I fully believe it is. Cutting to the chase – positioning is about the perceived value of the product/service/brand, what does it feel like it should cost, what do you think the experience with ‘it’ will be? If you bought an iPad, you’re buying an expensive tablet with cool packaging, via an easy and engaging e-commerce site or from a gorgeous Scandinavian style store filled with plants and ‘tech gurus’ but was it worth it in hindsight? What’s included in the price is the care that Apple has taken over the product hardware and software but also the after-sales and free service you get while the product is under guarantee but most importantly, you’re buying into their brand and the brand they’ve built attracts customers like bees to nectar; flipping the traditional model of selling to customers. 

This is relevant to your business because if think about Apple or another company or brand you admire when you think about your positioning – what do you like/ don’t like and what might work, then get in touch, and we can discuss that further. If you get your positioning right, the bees will come in swarms. 

I’m Zara Deegan, Founder of External Marketing, get in touch via the Contact button.  

Categories
Client growth

Making the right decisions

This article is written at the time of a global pandemic but ‘it’ will not be mentioned again. I also promise not to use the aggravating term ‘new normal’. We are focusing on the positives and acknowledging change happens while being fully respectful of the delicate situation we’re in and of course saddened by the loss of others from recent events.  As B2B marketeers and BDs, we want to help those on the journey of restructuring or repositioning, as like any business, there are tough times and times the ship feels fairly steady. In the life span of a business, there are places you have to turn, times for reflection, time to go back a step or take a big leap forward. These things can cause nauseating doubt for a business owner, lead to sleepless nights and sometimes thoroughly questioning whether the next step is the right one.

Depending on mood or mindset and the size of the necessary change, some will see it from a worst-case point of view but what’s most productive is to objectively analyse the situation and think about the view from your client or end-user. What’s most important is business survival. 

There are a few options on how to analyse the change you are going to make – you could make a decision matrix, list pros and cons, do a SWOT analysis, consult with your board or peers, or do what I do most of the time; rationalise it when explaining it (in my head) to the most critical or negative person you know; what would you say and how would you say it? Ask yourself; what are the alternatives and consequences? Is your assessment thorough? Do you need to gather evidence? Do you need a test audience/test scenario? What/who will be impacted? Can we carry on if we don’t make a change? 

Decision-making is reacting using learned behaviour. I read an article about the neuroscience behind decision-making and the research concluded that there are two hardwired processes for decision-making, one is pattern recognition and the other emotional tagging – in short (you probably guessed) pattern recognition is making assumptions based on previous experiences or ‘patterns’ using 30 different parts of the brain and emotional tagging is where emotional information attaches itself to thoughts and experiences stored in our memories. Why is this helpful? This insight tells us that our judgement is swayed and by trying to be as objective as we can, seeing the decision from different points of view, will hopefully bring us to the right decision.

Once you have chosen the route you are going to take – write down the script. Answer in note form; what are you doing, why are you doing it and what will be the positive and negative implications. This will form the start of your stakeholder communication. Remember stakeholders are clients, staff and investors. More than ever, clear and precise communication is key. Examples of decisions currently taking place – shutting or reducing your physical office, changing sectors you are working in, restructuring your team – all three are tragically happening across all sectors globally, and the method of delivering news is sensitive. Methods of communications include; email, posted letter, emailed letter, social media post, LinkedIn post, website announcement, phone call, text/Whatsapp, video call or Slack/Microsoft Teams message. Faxes are definitely over these days, right? You need to keep on message but tailor to suit the right audience. More on this in my next article and if you would like to hear more from me, get in touch via the Contact button.