August 7, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I went to throw a quick update up on my posterous blog this morning, and came across the message below on their site.
I actually had not been aware of the scheduled maintenance that was to occur, but upon being informed, understood and had no real reaction. (Contrary to my confused reaction and subsequent post a few months ago when the JustMeans website went down. To be fair, that was not a scheduled maintenance, but all the more reason and need for effective communication.)
Posterous did a very good job in keeping the page clean and the message abundantly simple. The call to action for me, the customer, was clear: if I wanted real time updates, I should go to their Twitter stream. The main message was also very clear: a scheduled maintenance was underway, the site was temporarily down and would be back up and running as soon as they were done. I noted that the estimated time of completion for the scheduled maintenance had actually been 2AM PDT, but didn’t bother doing the time conversion for my timezone immediately. I went straight to Twitter. « Read the rest of this entry »
July 13, 2010 § Leave a Comment
In moments of conflict, it’s easy to get caught up in what is being said and the clashing points of view. Particularly when the conflict feels like it is getting increasingly personal – it’s hard to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Quite often, what’s overlooked is how much power you actually have to guide and even quickly diffuse the conflict. To take it a step further, it’s actually not what’s being said that people get caught up in, it’s the meaning behind it.
When we interact with other people, we apply many filters to what they are saying to us. We make assumptions according to those filters, and interpret what is said. Our interpretation always includes some level of meaning: the meaning we create around what we think they are saying. We do this all very naturally, and often without realizing.
June 4, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I was walking to work this week and noticed two popular stores side-by-side. One was a men’s fashion retail store, the other a specialist in men’s shoes. Both stores were emptied out of their contents, were dusty from construction, and had their doors wide open. The first had a large sign written out in black marker on brown paper in the window: “We are temporary closed for renovations due to a minor fire upstairs.” It caught my eye immediately. The other had no sign.
I would assume the second store was closed and under-going light reconstruction also due to the fire; however, how would their customers know? In all likelihood, a customer walking by may have been under the misunderstanding that they had closed, moved, or were in the process of doing either.
In instances like this, communication is key. Speed is everything.
Of course, oftentimes, in a crisis like a fire, who’s thinking about what to say and who to tell… other than the authorities, insurance, etc.? But if you’re in a business of providing a product or service to people, you should also be thinking about communication to potential customers. If you don’t want to lose them, that is. And the crazy part is, sometimes the simplest acts are all you need. Even if it’s a simple hand-written sign on some brown paper.
May 9, 2010 § Leave a Comment
In approaching mass marketing campaigns, so often, the communication focus is on reaching as many people as possible with our message or our client’s message… so much so that the underlying objective of understanding is lost. How do we get to them? Where are they already going to be? What are other ways we can reach them? Got that? Great. Now, let’s get them the message. And frequently, there’s a lot to say. We want people to know about the company, what the company is doing, that there’s a great promotion or initiative happening, and why people won’t want to miss out. Throw into the mix dates, locations, rules, participating partners, sponsors, prizes or donation opportunity, and even celebrity endorsement. But don’t forget the overall brand message… and campaign message. Oh, and also the partner sponsor brand and campaign messages too.
And that’s usually only the baseline of informational requirements. That’s already a lot.
It’s critical never to forget that although we want to reach people and get the information we want them to receive when we do – most often, less is more. Or actually, simplicity is key. Managing to fit all of the various points we want people to know doesn’t mean they will receive it when they see, hear, or read it. How do you ensure someone will walk away not only having been exposed to your message amongst all the other people and companies trying to get their messages out, but understanding it in the way you had intended it? You can’t, but you can certainly make it easier for them.
What are the one or two ideas you want someone to walk away with, and more importantly, if you could make it happen – what would you want them to do? That’s what should be in your communication, and everything about your design should support this. Your core idea and what you want someone to do with it.
A firehose of information is overwhelming and can result in more harm than good. Chances are people won’t listen to or read your full ad or write-up, or worse, get confused by it. The small act of keeping things simple – although easier said than done – can make all the difference, and well worth the effort.