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December 12, 2008

Old Dogs Can Learn New Communications Tricks

by Ed Lanigan
Senior Strategist

More often than not, the “old dogs” of marketing and product groups create communications materials that don’t support sales and service reps, ultimately diminishing the customer experience. Unfortunately, the vast majority of firms seem to accept the “old dog” behaviors.

Here are three “new tricks” worth teaching:

Trick #1: Visualize the problem.
We typically experience the problem in terms of too much information, or too little, incorrect, convoluted or fragmented information. And we measure the problem in terms of business cost. However, these are all symptoms, not the root causes. Thoughtful visualizations will reveal new insights and perspectives on the overall business impact.

olddogs1 OLD DOGS CAN LEARN NEW COMMUNICATIONS TRICKS

Trick #2: Map information flow in detail.
For fear of starting a “boil the ocean” project, many firms define the scope of initiatives very narrowly from the beginning and work to improve one area at a time. This approach disregards the inherent interdependencies of today’s complex information flow and, as a result, adds to the problem. Mapping end-to-end information flow in detail helps identify priorities and the sequence of potential solutions.

olddogs2 OLD DOGS CAN LEARN NEW COMMUNICATIONS TRICKS

Trick #3: Demand user-centric solutions.
Due to organizational silos and operational forces, it’s easy to be fenced in and lose sight of user-centric information design. To overcome these forces, the effort needs full executive support and the cooperation of all stakeholders. Does this sound like an impossible trick? Just show the visualizations of tricks one and two, and it will be like holding steak in front of the dog’s nose!

olddogs3 OLD DOGS CAN LEARN NEW COMMUNICATIONS TRICKS

Systematically practice these tricks when developing communications materials, and the old dog will be leading others through hoops in no time!

About the author
During the past 20 years, Ed has assisted large multinationals and small to medium-sized firms alike to increase the sales productivity of their direct and indirect sales channels. His focus is on leveraging business communications in a way that drives sales and marketing behaviors and, ultimately, sales results, including customer acquisition, growth and retention.