We have all heard the stat that in order for your audience to retain your message, they have to see it seven times, in seven different formats. Communications strategy 101, right? However, for many organizations, this talk is a surprisingly difficult walk.
The easy part of this rule is broadcasting across many channels. As it is 2018, you likely have web and blog content, as well as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter Posts. That’s five. Maybe there is an opportunity to speak at an industry event or conference where there is an opportunity to earn press coverage. Great! That’s seven. Most organizations have their channels covered, but are they communicating the same message each time?
If you are not consistently curating your key messages across every channel every time, all of the effort you have put into generating that content and coverage is more likely to generate confusion than enhance your corporate reputation. Key messages are tough to stick to when you hear them day in and day out, in meeting after meeting and see them in every document you review. Add to it that most communicators and marketers are sensitive to language and, as a result, the temptation to ‘tweak the message’ is too strong for many to resist. But resist you must.
It might not be fun, but the clear, consistent reiteration of key messages is the only way they cut through the noise and can be retained by the people you are devoted to reaching. Think of it from the perspective of your audience. When being introduced to something new, it is tough to get a clear sense of the message if it keeps changing, even if only slightly.
In this respect, communicating is very similar to teaching someone to dance. If the instructor constantly changes the terminology and adds new steps before the previous ones are mastered, the student does not have much of a chance of learning the steps or the dance as a whole. However, if the instructions are the same every time, and the terminology never changes, slowly the student will pick up the steps. That’s when the magic happens.
Case in point, the Macarena. Sure, it may be dated, but play it anywhere in the world and see how many people hop up with huge smiles on their faces and perform the steps by heart. It might be cheesy, but most marketers and communicators would give their left arm for this level of engagement and connection with their audience.
So how can you apply the principles of the Macarena in your communication strategy? Simplify your steps. A successful communications strategy is built on 3-4 key message blocks which are aligned to unchanging organizational objectives. Each press release, product launch, event, blog or social media post includes one or two of those key message blocks, word for word, every time. Every time your message is repeated, your audience has a chance to learn it. This consistency enables your audience to begin to repeat the message themselves, educate others, and provide endorsements on your behalf. Eventually, people will know who you are and what you stand for, thus not only meeting your commercial goals, but exceeding them.
All you need to do is stick to the steps.