What are you saying?
Determining who you are talking to in a marketing communications campaign should, in large part, determine what you say, and how you say it. In effective communication, those three simple ideas—who, what, and how—are intertwined and not easily separated.
The first thing to remember is that however you have defined your target audience—“who” you are talking to—“what” you say, must speak to them. Sounds simple enough. But the sad fact is, much of the time the people behind the message are talking to themselves. What they say may be important to them, but meaningless or irrelevant or unimportant to prospects.
Who cares if you’re “excited” about a new service or piece of equipment? What does it matter if you’re “proud” of an accomplishment? Saying “our people make the difference” is no different from what everyone else can—and often does—say. And when care and compassion are expected and ubiquitous in health care, who will hear you when you say “we care”?
Marketing research, if properly conducted and analyzed, can and will reveal what to say. But don’t be lulled into thinking your grid of features and benefits is a message. The information and insight there should guide what you say and help refine the message, but it’s not the message. Beyond understanding what matters to your prospects, you must understand why it matters and when it matters and how it fits into their everyday lives. And that comes from experience.
In a way, effective marketing communication is like an effective conversation. More often than not, listening is more important than talking. And when you do speak, your response should be determined by what your partners in conversation need to hear, not by what you want to say.
Next time: How do you get noticed?
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