Communication Clarity in Marketing

I couldn’t resist the oppor­tu­ni­ty to mix the future of online mar­ket­ing with the present in such a way as to make a point in the most effec­tive way pos­si­ble … and you thought wear­ables weren’t main­stream yet :). But first, check out this video. It will only take a few min­utes of your time.

So, what’s my point? We mar­keters have put a pre­mi­um on mak­ing the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence in engag­ing with our brand as pos­i­tive and per­son­alised as we can pos­si­bly make it. We’ve gone as far as to estab­lish how the cus­tomer per­ceives their expe­ri­ence to be the new cor­po­rate brand.

I just came back from the Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Expo­si­tion and Con­fer­ence (dmex­co) in Ger­many in which that was Adobe’s theme for their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the event.

It occurred to me as I strolled the halls of the con­fer­ence and talked to many peo­ple just like me that the ques­tion that need­ed to be asked was, “Do You Know What Your Mar­ket­ing is Say­ing?” I wrote a blog post on my own blog but it occurred to me that there is more to that story.

The val­ue of the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence depends great­ly on hav­ing con­ti­nu­ity and con­sis­ten­cy of mes­sage across all mar­ket­ing chan­nels. The video you just watched demon­strat­ed in quite an enter­tain­ing way that even though we broad­cast the iden­ti­cal mes­sage across all mar­ket­ing chan­nels, do we real­ly know what we are say­ing. Is it com­mu­ni­ca­tion clar­i­ty or the string­ing togeth­er of buzz­words? We can’t even agree on how to char­ac­ter­ize mar­ket­ing across the ever-increas­ing num­ber of chan­nels. We wan­der from cross chan­nel to mul­ti­chan­nel to omnichan­nel in our attempts to give it some type of iden­ti­ty. We should just cre­ate a new buzz­word made up of the first let­ter of each of the options … CMO mar­ket­ing. Hey, I thought it was clever. I’m sure I’ll hear about this from my CMO :).

But, let’s not squan­der the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dri­ve home the point here. We need to talk to peo­ple in their native lan­guage using vocab­u­lary that is clear and under­stand­able. A good test is read out your copy and try the “would a human being real­ly say that?” test. And less of the sales­man­ship. We still have a rep­u­ta­tion of being decep­tive and mis­lead­ing with cus­tomers in using lan­guage that is more per­sua­sive than hon­est in try­ing to get them to buy what we’re selling.

In dis­cus­sions like this, I love to explore the Asian cul­tures for ways to explain things like this. The Japan­ese in this case are so much more advanced than we West­ern­ers are in under­stand­ing the human ele­ment of how peo­ple per­ceive sim­ple things like clear com­mu­ni­ca­tions. One of my col­leagues wrote about it recent­ly. The notions of honne and tatemae, two of the many intrigu­ing con­cepts of Japan­ese cul­ture, are in play here. Honne refers to what a per­son actu­al­ly says and feels while tatemae refers to what a per­son pub­licly states. Marketers have earned a bad rep­u­ta­tion by say­ing what they believe needs to be said to sell a product.

If the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is indeed our new cor­po­rate brand, we need to change our ways and talk plain­ly and open­ly. The con­ti­nu­ity and con­sis­ten­cy of the mes­sage must have a trans­par­ent mean­ing. Oth­er­wise, the cus­tomer as our brand ambas­sador is in for a tough time.