The fundamental approaches listed here are nothing new. You’ve probably heard them before. Nonetheless, they are essential ones that bear repeating—especially since following them can yield significant communication gains.
1. Talk to your customers. Do you really know who your high-frequency and low-frequency customers are? Have you ever tried to get close to them? Have you asked them about the role your product or service plays in their lives? Or, delved into their satisfactions or dissatisfactions?
If so, bravo! Especially if this customer information is recent. We’re not talking about a “quick phone survey.” This is about in-depth discussion that leads to a truer understanding of how your customers perceive your strengths and weaknesses.
You might even consider a customer advisory panel. If this idea strikes fear into your heart, then explore other ways to learn more. For example, consider going to work with your customers for a brief period—literally.
It’s worth trying whatever approach allows you to get beyond mere platitudes. You can then gain true insight that allows you to assess whether you’re presenting your value in the most creative, compelling way.
It all starts with asking yourself, “Am I telling the truth about my product or service? Am I communicating the real value, as perceived by my audience?
2. Talk in-depth with employees. Although it can be tough to get your own employees to open up, once they do, they may provide amazing insights. Promise them complete confidentiality. Convince them that you’re not conducting some kind of ‘KGB’ operation. Then, ask them how they perceive your brand. Get their take on outsider perceptions, too. The answers could inspire meaningful strategic shifts in communication strategies and other initiatives.
An important note: This shouldn’t be limited to only your sales people or those in customer service. Question employees across many different disciplines within the organization. Prospects might include HR, manufacturing, even accounting.
3. Assume the mindset of a start-up. Experiment…a lot. Test different approaches to see what works best. That way, you won’t waste additional resources on those that don’t.
Making the effort to better understand customer and employee perceptions, combined with a willingness to experiment with new approaches, almost always yields significant gains in messaging. The resulting insight can lead to truly creative, inspired and highly effective communication programs.