Communicating at the Pace of Change

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June9Collage

FountainBlue’s June 9 When She Speaks in SF event was on the topic of Communicating at the Pace of Change. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at 10Fold and our panelists! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, 888 Steps
  • Panelist Julie Heck, Head of Marketing, Savvius
  • Panelist Alicia Johnson, Managing Director, Infrastructure Services, Accenture 
  • Panelist Fran Lowe, Vice President, 10Fold
  • Panelist Marisa Shumway, Sr Director, Marketing, AppDynamics

Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such experienced, articulate, innovative and inspiring panelists for this event, representing different companies, roles, and backgrounds. Below are their collective thoughts and ideas which might help you think about how you can better communicate in this world of constant and fast-paced change.

Be strategic.

  • First know the vision and direction, and create messages in alignment with this shared objective.
  • The messages should be customized for each audience, factoring in their motivations, perceptions, as well as their preferred modes of communication – web, mobile, face-to-face, video, etc.
  • Most people today do their homework before they engage, researching their needs and the offerings. As a result: 1) be quick and clear about what sets your offering apart and strategies for getting from awareness to engagement to commitment, 2) offer self-selecting options and more entry points so prospects and customers can get the information and support they need, 3) work with PR teams to get the right communications to the right prospects, and 4) effectively communicate your offerings, your testimonials, your case studies.
  • We open to shifting (offering, pricing, communications and other) strategies quickly and strategically, should the customers and the data show there’s a need for you (and the industry) to do so.

Remember that you’re communicating with people. Be real.

  • Be authentic and real in all communications.
  • Build relationships, be human. People make decisions based on subjective and personal opinions, and rationalize their decisions based on facts.
  • Be crystal clear about what you do for whom and why they should care. And be prepared to communicate that to all stakeholders at any time, no matter what your role or responsibility is within the company.
  • If you consider that most people today have the attention span of a goldfish, communicate quickly in ways which resonate. To do so, identify the audience who would care and create a clear message which triggers an intended response.

Let’s talk about the data.

  • When you look at data, look not just at the ‘eyeballs’, but at the bigger picture.
  • Today’s marketers have a host of tools which generate a wealth of relevant, real-time data which can be leveraged for specific campaigns, to support sales and marketing initiatives and customer requirements. Adept marketers leverage these tools to understand how customers engage, what strategies are successfully facilitating engagement, which niche audiences respond to what communications, etc.,
  • Look at the data and the facts and results to limit the emotional, irrational and reactive responses. Being fact-focused not only helps you have better judgement, but it also enhances your brand as someone who is centered and calm even during times of stress, when the stakes are high, and getting it right is critical.
  • Focus on the problem in front of you, and collect the data which would help understand the cause behind a problem, without making it personal, without pointing fingers.

It takes leadership.

  • Be all-in, in thoughts, words and actions. Commitment and dedication lead to excellent results.
  • Results do not have to be perfect every time, all the time. But when the whoopses happen, taking ownership and communicating clearly and transparently and making corrections and amends will go a long way.
  • Don’t enlist in the crap-in, crap-out mindset around data. (Almost) anybody can make (almost) any data to support (almost) any conclusion. Leaders assess the intentions of the communicators, the validity of the data, the alignment of the decision with the overarching strategy etc.
  • Use your customer-brain and your coding brain when you communicate in a tech company. Be that translator when you’re working with people who get only one side or the other side of the brain.
  • Be clear on the overarching message for your company, and support employees, staff, partners, etc. in communicating in alignment with that message.

Below are collective thoughts on trends and questions based on those trends.

  • Reporters are disappearing. Business models around communication are evolving. What does this mean for your company?
  • There will continue to be a push-pull around privacy, security and access. What opt-in strategies would best work for your customers?
  • Personalization trends will continue to climb. How will your company shift its communications and operations to address the demand for personalized solutions and services from your customers?
  • Most forward-thinking companies are adopting digital strategies around communication. What is your company’s digital strategy? How are your customers responding to it?

The bottom line is that communication is a core leadership skill. No matter where you’re from geographically, what you’ve studied at school, what types of roles you’ve adopted, what you’ve accomplished to date, how many years you’ve worked, what gender you are, etc., your ability to communicate what you do for whom will define how successful you are in achieving shared goals. 

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