November 29, 2006
People don't get your marketing speak, nor do they get your strategic executive gibberish...
Chip Heath and Dan Heath wrote an interesting article in the Harvard Business review this month about the "curse of knowledge" (requires subscription).
The curse of knowledge happens when your language, which is based on your level of knowledge, cannot be understood by others. So an executive who uses language like "achieving customer delight!", or "unlocking shareholder value", phrases that have real meaning to him based on his years of immersion in the logic and conventions of business, will sound like a person who has a love affair with vague strategy statements to frontline employees who may not be privy to the underlying meanings.
An interesting experiment done at Stanford University in the early 90's proves that point rather nicely. In the experiment they assigned people one of two roles - "tapper" and "listener." The tapper would pick a well known song, such as "Happy Birthday" and tap it out on the table. The listener had to guess what the song was. Before tapping the song the tapper was asked to predict the probability that the listener would get it right - and they predicted 50%. When they actually tapped the songs, the success ratio was a whopping 2.5% - out of 120 songs, only three songs were guessed correctly. So what sounded like the perfect tune for the tapper actually sounded like some kind of weird tapping code for the listener.
One way to avoid this is by "translating" your message in very simple language, and one company that does this right according to the article is Trader's Joe. They actually develop their messages for the imaginary unemployed college professor who drives a very, very used Volvo.
This is a great reminder of the power of using real and actual scenarios in doing business. Not only can real detailed scenarios with real people help you with messaging, they will also help you with the design of better products and and the development of better customer interaction processes.
November 1, 2006
Community-based agency creates Hubbub in the PR community
A new agency - Hubbub - founded by Giovanni Rodriguez and Rebekah Mitchell, launched last night (disclosure: I am an advisor to the company).
One of the truly interesting aspects of this new agency is that they will attempt to create a community-based PR agency - meaning that they are creating a global and "open" community of communications professionals to assemble in teams for customer projects.
The company seems to be off to a good start and already has a nice roster of clients.
Good luck Hubbub PR!