Marketing relies on communication.
It relies on effective communication that is clear. More is not better.
When you communicate as a professional, you are marketing yourself all the time. The professional communication you engage in typically falls into two categories: with those you know and strangers. While your audience always matters, the ideas and techniques for communicating effectively are the same no matter who you’re talking to: a co-worker, a customer, emailing a potential employer–or standing before a customer service clerk who’s having a bad day.
Clear and simple: this is the single most important goal. Clear means you’ve done a good job helping the other person understand what you have to say. Simple means you’ve conveyed the message in the most efficient way, without wasting the other person’s time, attention, or resources, or in the case of the angry clerk, without bringing your own backstory of frustration that has not bearing on the situation at hand.
Of course, clear and simple is harder that it sounds, because it requires thinking before you open your mouth or type a single word.
Picasso demonstrated how making a complex idea clear and simple with the progression of drawing a bull. What the video here.
Picasso is a master and for the rest of us, the process to achieve clear and simple takes practice:
- Figure out what’s essential.
- Figure out what doesn’t add to the message–what will detract from the other person understanding (knowing what to leave out).
Seventy-five percent of the action occurs before you even open your mouth. There’s many ways to 1) watch and 2) listen, and you can do both whether you’re face to face or reading an email or text message. Watch people’s faces, notice their tone in writing. Observe their gestures and posture, see whether they take the time to write with proper punctuation and language usage in an email.
After you watch and listen–that is, after you’ve gathered your data, then: 3) think.
- How is the other person feeling? (Emotional state)
- If I were him, how would I be feeling (Empathy–feel the other person’s pain or joy)
- What do they need? (Understand)
- Do I need to ask questions to clarify? (Get more info)
Consider how you can respond . Most interactions fall within these four categories:
- Solve a problem
- Feel heard (restate what they’ve said and show empathy)
- Re-direct to someone else (you recognize you’re not the best person to respond)
- Think more: I’ll get back to you.
When you’re ready, it’s time to 4) speak, act or write. To deliver your thoughts, choose a method and craft your message.
In the past decade, the number of ways in which we can communicate has expanded enormously, and even in the past few years, the way in which people use the media has changed. Texting, originally just for teenagers, is now mainstream and used professionally. Social media sites, originally just for fun, now can serve a selling function.
How do you choose the right medium (method)?
- How did the conversation start?
- It doesn’t need to continue in the same manner, so consider best way to reply
- How well do you know the person — your relationship?
- Age of the person.
- How serious of important is the subject?
- How complex is the conversation?
- Is the subject matter private?
What happens when communication goes wrong? First, it’s easiest to take responsibility. Preemptively taking the blame for ineffective communication is effortless (as long as you can shove your ego out of the way) and gives you the opportunity to be the hero. Say, “I should have been more clear; let’s start over.” Or, “I goofed. Let me say it differently.” Most communication gaffs get blamed on the talking portion–that somehow the words came out wrong. But most failures in communication stem from the three early stages: Watch, listen, and think.