Communications holds the power to change minds, prompt action and move the world. But it has to get better. It has to strive to be the best. In business communications, we have identified ten challenges that are standing in the way of it being better. These come from the breadth and depth of our work with leading brands and brands that want to lead.
Everyone is talking about disruptions and innovation yet communications are predictable, safe and boring. Are you satisfied with being a me-too brand? Communications that are compelling and different are in short supply. Effort and spend are going up in smoke. Too few brands are bold.
Communicators are attracted to shiny new toys and forget the fundamentals. Are you overcomplicating while missing the tried and true? Social media, V/R, video, SEO, programmatic – these are important tactics but they are that, tactics. What is missing is smart, sharp and penetrating strategies.
Businesses think impersonally in terms of “audiences” and “targets” and “markets”. Do you really know who wants and needs what you have? The science and art of segmentation is a terrible state these days. The business schools teach it poorly and businesses employ it haphazardly. This leaves very real customers thinking you do not know them or care to.
Brands believe they are storytellers but their story is self-published. Is your brand out-off-touch, self-absorbed and irrelevant? Businesses talk about themselves more than ever. The promise of social media creating dialogue has not truly materialized. So businesses are actually turning off people with content that is neither valuable or entertaining.
Social media is re-teaching communicators to broadcast not converse. Do you really believe pumping out more stuff works? Less is definitely more when it comes to the substance of communications. Unfortunately, communicators have responded with deluging customers with more content rather than the right content.
There is a reliance on jargon (and has always has been) but it can be stopped. Are you talking gobbledygook? Communicate the brand in the customer’s voice and you will be that much closer to making a connection and a sale.
Communications make too many assumptions so ends up being neither real nor relevant. Do you truly know what moves and what motivates? Marketing communications are all about wants and needs. Too many communicators are trying to be clever rather than understanding what people desire.
Communications overwhelm, are unclear, and often contradict. Are you heard and understood? We have had decades in modern business to perfect the practice of communications and marketing. Unfortunately, we relearn the same mistakes and create an overpowering clutter of communications in the process.
Communications has become a function. A department. It has lost its craft. What value do you place on communications? The work is not working. It is time to treat communications as artisanship not a factory with uninspired assembly lines.
Most communications professionals are passive order-takers. Don’t you want an agency that has ideas, answers, and that delivers? Iron sharpens iron. The relationship between brand and agency should feel tension. Both sides should push each other. There is no time for mediocrity.
Everyone of these challenges is an opportunity for you to stand out and for communications overall to radically improve.