‘If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there’ said The Cheshire Cat to Alice.
Obvious really, but how often do we embark on communications programmes without being clear about what the objectives really are?
Communication objectives can be particularly tricky. It’s the bit where hard, concrete business and marketing objectives turn into something human.
In the new era of media, with all its choices, it’s doubly important we are clear, otherwise, as The Cheshire Cat suggests, we could end up going down many different roads with no idea where we are heading.
Here’s a little list of the wrong communications objectives that lead us down the wrong roads.
They simply aren’t stated: a business objective, a marketing objective if you’re lucky and nothing else.
The communication has to do everything: awareness, engagement, explanation, call to action and more.
A shopping list of activities to be ticked off. TV ad, press, online, Facebook Page, Pinterest etc. etc. (the list goes on)
The business task re-stated in a different form, e.g. successfully launch new X as ..
A leap straight to implementation. We want an ad which will communicate that…
I’m sure you’ll have experienced at least some of them. It’s partly because people aren’t always clear about what exactly communication objectives are, but also because it gets human at this point – shifting knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.
So the best way to think about it is in simple human terms.
What is the human response we need for our communications to succeed?
It’s the words real people use in conversation: see, know, feel, get, share, seek and do.
At Carat we used to refer to these as The It’s.
The list is not exclusive, you may think of more or less, but the beauty of it is that it forces us to think about the important things – how people need to respond to communications to achieve the business goals.
Be made aware of, or notice the communications and the brand
Have an emotional response to communications to create emotional proximity.
Understand a rational benefit or reasons to believe that need explanation
Search for or look for further information or entertainment.
Pass on, talk about, spread the word, recommend,
Directly interact with the brand physically or virtually.
Using these human definitions enables us to identify what the communication needs to do to succeed.
Is the consumer unaware of something that needs to be brought to their attention, is there an emotional barrier that needs to be overcome, something they don’t understand or do we want them to contact us?
It also helps us identify what the communication priorities should be.
We all know that communications cannot do everything- one objective is best, two or three is OK, but any more becomes messy
By asking questions around the human response we need from our consumers we can
Select the responses that are the most important.
Sacrifice the responses that are not fundamental.
Prioritize the relative importance of the key responses.
Ideally we would have numbers and research to support our thinking and recommendations. But, even in their absence The Its act as a good framework to think things through to an intelligent recommendation.
Once the human responses are selected, prioritized and agreed, they act as a guide and filter to all the communications activity – ideas, channel selection and use, plans, evaluation.
If you have decided your priorities are say, 60% feel (and you know what your consumer needs to feel), 30% know (and you know what they need to know) and 10% do (and you know what you want them to do) then you have real direction for communications development
Thinking about communications in terms of human response is the best way to deliver the business objectives in today’s technological world.