I have to assume that finding our way into an elephant graveyard of forgotten companies, products and services is not what we intend. But if our communication is mostly one-way, that’s where we may be headed. Long-term success requires two-way communication, conversation, and a permanent commitment to building from that. The only possible exception might be that of the person or company who has cornered the market on something that everyone has to have. And even then, things eventually change. Exxon-Mobile and Chevron, for example, don’t have to listen to you or hear your problems because you need gas to get to work and go to grandma’s. That could, of course, change in time. But for now, complain all you want about the choosing between a fill-up and new shoes for little Katya. They don’t care. The rest of us sell things that for the most part, people don’t have to have. Even in healthcare which we all need to lead better lives, with so many choices of hospitals, clinics, specialists, pharmacies and pharmaceuticals, and insurance providers, competition dictates that, to survive, providers have to care about what people think, feel and say about their experience. Remember this if you remember nothing else: All effective leadership depends on relationships. And you’re a leader. Relationships, whether personal or commercial, depend on quality of conversation. You want something (money); they want something too (worth, value, satisfaction, feeling they’ve made a right choice.) In formulating your approach to a marketplace (and remember that your internal audience is a marketplace, too) visionary organizations will do two things:
- Convey consumer respect. You do that teaching yourself to genuinely care about what people need and feel, to prove it by listening and acting appropriately;
- Build intensity into the dialogue process. Dialogue Intensity™ infers the use of continuously strategic, time-bound, goal-oriented communications to meet the needs of our companies, allies and customers.
Nowhere is any of this more important than it is in marketing and public relations targeting mature audiences in a youth-worshipping culture. What we as a marketing nation largely do today is one way to communicate with audiences. But to succeed for the long term, we need to keep in mind that:
- every one of those younger audience members is getting older, and;
- the greatest wealth in the economy, and potential spending to your benefit – rests with those people we may not respect enough in our communications. Do not turn them off.
The time to commit to the two way communications street – a true business-to-business and business-to-consumer relationship — is now. We’ll help you get there.