It’s a noisy world out there. Within the space of just a few minutes, you can use multiple devices to receive information – you can set the alarm on your phone to wake you up, hop on your favorite social media channels to scroll through your feed and use your virtual assistant technology (like Alexa) to find out what the weather is like, all before you’ve even gotten out of bed.
We’re living in a world where it’s possible to find out just about anything within a matter of minutes and we’re bombarded by more messages than ever before. In the mid-2000s, consumers received up to 5,000 advertising messages per day. Twenty years later, that number has doubled.
It’s more difficult than ever before for businesses to cut through the clutter of messages their target audiences receive every day and motivate them to act. This is an opportunity I embrace daily as the lead of Moore’s Workforce Development and Education practice area. The organizations I work with are doing important, meaningful work – helping people find the education and training they need to secure the job they want and working with businesses to secure the talent that will keep their company thriving for years to come. The difficulty comes with reaching the right audience at the right time with the right message.
We’ve worked for a number of years with the National Association of Workforce Boards, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that represents and advocates for the more than 550 workforce boards across the nation. Moore’s President & COO Terrie Ard and I recently returned from attending The Forum, the group’s annual convening, which brings together more than 1,200 workforce development, economic development and education professionals from across the country. While many sessions focused on programmatic and policy priorities, there was a common thread woven throughout everything from keynote speeches to break out sessions — the importance of leading with a strong value proposition. And this concept of reaching the right audience with a message that will truly resonate must be a priority for all businesses, especially in this time of information overload.
Prior to our breakout session, Terrie and I asked registered attendees to share their top communications challenges. What we found are universal challenges that present unique opportunities.
Challenge 1: Developing a message that resonates with the audience.
What we heard:
- “Concise, well-defined messages that creates action.”
- “General awareness of what we do.”
- “Getting more of our community to understand who we are and what we have to offer.”
Developing a message that resonates and will inspire an audience to act begins with a thorough understanding not just of who the target audience is, but what they think, feel, believe and what motivates them. Most businesses and organizations know only surface level information about their audience — age, occupation, education, etc. Very few take time to understand their audiences’ beliefs and actions. Those that do stand a much greater chance of developing a clear value proposition that will engage the end user.
From there, organizations should evaluate their “why” and “how” to craft their core message. Most organizations focus on “what” they do — that’s easy to identify. It’s a lot more difficult to pinpoint why the organization matters and why a consumer should care. Here’s a great example of how we do this at Moore.
Challenge 2: Adapting to changing consumer needs.
What we heard:
- “Rising above the noise.”
- “Getting the right people at the table to receive the message.”
- “Feedback loop!”
The savviest business leaders are constantly listening to their target audiences, analyzing trends and staying ahead of what consumers need and want, but it doesn’t take a multimillion-dollar communication strategy to do this well. Reviewing data and insights available through owned media channels, such as website analytics, can provide great insights into the information consumers find most valuable. Employing a strong social listening strategy allows businesses to keep up with consumer needs in real time.
And one of the most important strategies to implement is a clear feedback loop with consumers, such as letting them know when a change is being made that was inspired by them. Your target audience wants to know you are listening to them.
One of the most impactful quotes I heard at the event came from Brian Hernandez, chief storyteller at Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area — “Silence sends a message.” We have long believed that if you don’t tell your story, someone else will. But in this day and age of more information than our brains can possibly process, your message has to be powerful, tailored for the person you want to reach and fine-tuned as that individual’s wants and needs change.