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Times, They Are a Changing. Communicating Effectively in the ‘New World’

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Times, They Are a Changing. Communicating Effectively in the ‘New World’

Every day I work with businesses that want to improve the way they communicate.

Whether that is within their own teams or with their broader client base, there is an understanding developing that if you aren’t communicating effectively, you are missing a very big opportunity for your business.

Essentially marketing all comes down to communication. For any marketing to be effective, you need to deliver the right message, to the right people, in the right way, at the right time. For the last century, businesses have been doing this in the same way – via the written word. The only significant recent change has been the use of the internet as a key medium.

Well, things are changing. Look at any Human Relations (HR) report, and we can see that a vast number of our workforce (around 70% as claimed by a Gallup poll) classify themselves as ‘disengaged’. Meaning they are either just doing enough at work to stay out of trouble or are just going through the motions. When asked why they felt so disconnected from the business, the most popular answer given was, “A lack of communication.”

Add to this the fact that over the next three years we will see a huge change in the ages of our employees. Best estimates have the Gen Y and Millennial generations accounting for 50% of the workforce by 2020. These new recruits have little in common with their senior team leaders in terms of the way they communicate. They are digital natives. They believe that their average tenure at any business will be around 12 to 18 months and they’re looking for a role that will keep them actively engaged through collaboration opportunities with peers from across departments and, where possible, across the globe.

So, what does all this mean for business owners?

Quite simply you need to learn how to communicate in the ‘new age’. You must begin to use methods and opportunities that work with your incoming team members, and the people who will very soon be your clients. Continue to operate the way you are operating today, and you will go the way of Kodak or Borders.

The good news is the future of communications is not a difficult road to traverse. In fact, I’ve come up with the 9 pillars for communicating in the new world:

1. Have a topic in mind.

You need to have a reason for communicating with your people. Talking for the sake of talking gets lost in the noise. Make sure everything you do is done with a purpose in mind.

2. Be recognisable to your audience.

The new communication method relies on people getting to know ‘you’; the you behind the business. Team members and customers alike want to hear your voice and have you as a recognisable face/voice of the business. In this new way of communicating, you need to be prepared to have and build a profile.

3. Never assume to know your market.

New communication involves a constant conversation. Team members and customers want to be engaged; they want to know you are interested in feedback and adapting to their requirements. Those businesses who just assume they know what their people want will find themselves with dwindling market share.

4. Build a network.

This new way of communicating means seeing your team and your clients as a network. And as the leader of the network, it is your responsibility to find ways to connect your people to other opportunities and to other topics/ideas that might interest them. Communicating in the new way means that you genuinely want to help your people remain engaged with your business activities.

5. Break down the silos.

The new way of communicating means tearing down the walls within your business. Your team and your clients want to know how your business works and how all of the pieces fit together to make the business strong. This means allowing your team from each department to have visibility and accessibility across the entire business, to see where they fit in and to see where future opportunities may lie.

6. Leverage all communications channels.

Let’s face it; everyone likes receiving their information in different ways. For the foreseeable future, there will still be a need for websites, brochures and business cards. But more and more, your team and your clients will be looking to you to leverage your information across other platforms such as podcasts, videos and social media.

7. Be Approachable.

The new way of communicating sees businesses becoming more approachable. Business owners who wish to sit in their ‘Ivory Tower’ and allow the staff to do the work should cash out now. In the not too distant future, your team and your clients will want to reach out and chat with you directly about your business and the direction it’s headed.

8. Talk to your team, to your suppliers and to your clients.

Your audience wants to hear from you. They want to know all about your business and the stories behind it. In the new way of communicating, we will return to the stories that made our businesses and our teams great. Share them as far and wide as you can.

9. Be engaging.

Communicating is all about engagement. Talking with a topic in mind, being recognisable, leveraging your content, being approachable and never assuming are all vitally important to the new way of doing business.

Everyone has their own style for taking information on board, and each of your team members will be looking for something different to obtain job satisfaction. Using agile communications tools, like podcasting, video, social media, etc., you will be able to reach your people where they are.

The rest comes down to you being prepared to get to know your team as individuals, and your clients as ‘real’ people. What drives them, what motivates them, why are they buying from you, what do they like and what changes do they want to see?

Do that, and you’ll be well on your way to transitioning your business to be successful in the new world.

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