Why Most Businesses Can't Communicate Right



If business was a game, communication would be the rules - messed up rules that needed to be explained properly. Everyone's trying to shout over everyone else, hoping someone gets the message. A well-defined communication strategy should simplify this mess, but often, it only complicates things further. Let's break down what it really is and where businesses typically trip up.

So, What's a Communication Strategy Anyway?

Strip away the jargon, and a communication strategy is just a game plan on how a business talks to its audience. Which channels to use, what to say, and how to say it. It’s about ensuring that a brand's message doesn't turn into a game of broken telephone by the time it reaches its audience.

Why Do Businesses Need a Communication Strategy?

1. Solidifying Brand Image: You know that friend whose stories are always on point? That’s what brands aim for—a consistent image that doesn’t falter with every ad or tweet.

2. Engaging the Right People: It's about knowing where your audience hangs out and what they want to hear, so you don’t become the weird uncle at a teen party.

3. Smart Choices: Shooting in the dark is for amateur ghost hunters, not businesses. A strategy helps decide what message goes where.

4. Handling Mess-Ups: When things take a nosedive, a well-defined communication route can differentiate between a graceful recovery and a PR nightmare.

Reasons why businesses fail in their communication strategy

It's one thing to have a blip in your communication now and then; it's an entirely different disaster when it's your strategy steering the ship towards an iceberg. Before diving into where companies keep tripping, it's essential to understand what we're dissecting here. These aren't just innocent mistakes; they're deep-rooted problems that can make or break a brand. Let's elaborate on the details.

1. Wrong Message at the Wrong Spot

It’s crucial to understand the difference between ‘speaking’ and ‘speaking relevantly.’ Often, businesses mistake volume for value. They scream their message everywhere, failing to consider if it even resonates with the audience.

Case in Point: Rolex trying its luck on platforms heavily frequented by teenagers. It’s like trying to sell a sports car at a kids' toy store. Sure, they'd love a ride, but are they buying?

The Real Issue: Not understanding the nuances of platforms or the intent of the audience there. Companies miss the chance to create a dialogue, resulting in wasted ad dollars and missed opportunities.

The Fix: Research, understand, and then act. Tailor messages to fit the audience of each platform and ensure alignment with their interests.

2. Betting It All on One Horse

Being loyal is cute in rom-coms. In business? Not so much. Especially if companies are fiercely loyal to one channel, thinking it's their golden goose. The market, audience behavior, and technology evolve, and it's a gamble to ignore the changing landscape.

Case in Point: Blockbuster's unwavering commitment to its physical rental model while the world moved online. It's like insisting on using a typewriter in the age of laptops.

What was so great about Blockbuster? A lot, say fans - Marketplace

The Real Issue: Over-reliance on a familiar strategy blinds companies to emerging trends, leaving them vulnerable to agile competitors.

The Fix: Constantly revisit and revise the communication strategy. Embrace change, experiment with new channels, and stay updated with industry trends.

3. Evolution is Not Their Strong Suit

Brands need to keep up with the Joneses - or in this case, their audience and competition. Failing to adapt is like trying to fit into your favorite pair of jeans from 10 years ago; it’s uncomfortable and honestly, a bit embarrassing.

Case in Point: BlackBerry’s stubborn attachment to its keyboard layout while the world swiftly moved to touchscreens. It's like preferring a horse-cart in the age of electric cars because 'it's classic.'

New 5G Blackberry smartphone with physical keyboard inbound for 2021 -  NotebookCheck.net News

The Real Issue: Complacency and an over-reliance on past success can make brands resistant to change. They get caught in their glory days, ignoring the warning signs of a shift in market preference.

The Fix: Stay flexible. Be willing to pivot when required. Keep the feedback loop with customers active and adapt to their changing needs.

4. The One-Trick Pony Syndrome

Every circus loves a one-trick pony. It's predictable, safe, and draws a consistent crowd. But the world of business? Not so much. Here, being a one-trick pony means sticking rigidly to a single communication channel or method. It means not recognizing that the audience landscape is changing, new platforms are emerging, and behaviors are evolving.

The Mistake: Stubbornly sticking to one channel, assuming that the magic will last forever. It's like refusing to upgrade from dial-up internet because it once ruled the roost.

Example: Nokia. During its golden days, Nokia was synonymous with mobile phones. But they mistook their reign as eternal. While they relied heavily on their existing reputation and familiar marketing channels, competitors like Apple and Samsung were busy embracing new communication strategies and the evolving smartphone landscape. Nokia's lag in catching up led to its infamous downfall.

Eternity :: Archive on X: "Nokia 5510 ad https://t.co/7ybVxNPg16" / X

The Solution: Always keep your ear to the ground. Monitor emerging channels, track audience behavior, and diversify your communication strategy.

5. The "We've Always Done It This Way" Trap

There's something comforting about routine and familiarity. However, in the dynamic world of business and marketing, this comfort can be lethal. Markets shift, technologies advance and consumer preferences evolve at lightning speed.

The Mistake: Clinging to strategies of yesteryears, resisting change, and not adapting quickly enough to the shifting sands of the marketplace. It's like insisting on using VHS tapes while the world streams in 4K.

Example: The tale of Blockbuster is a classic one in business schools. They had the chance to innovate and move into digital streaming. But instead of adapting, they doubled down on their physical rental model. Meanwhile, Netflix, initially a mere DVD rental service, spotted the trend and pivoted, leading to its meteoric rise and Blockbuster's eventual demise.

The Solution: Flexibility should be the backbone of any strategy. Conduct regular reviews, stay updated with industry trends, and be ready to pivot when needed.

6. The Echo Chamber of Chaos

A brand should have a voice - clear, consistent, and unmistakable. But what happens when a brand has multiple voices, all singing a different tune? Chaos. This inconsistency stems from a lack of alignment and coordination within the company, where different departments or teams have different perceptions of the brand's identity.

The Mistake: Allowing mixed, inconsistent messages to reach the audience, leads to brand dilution and confusion. It's like having a choir where every singer is on a different page, literally.

Example: Yahoo, once a titan of the internet age, faced this issue. They had multiple product launches, pivots, and strategy shifts in quick succession. This rapid, often inconsistent change made it difficult for users to decipher what Yahoo stood for or what its core offerings were.

The Solution: Ensure that there's a centralized brand message. Regular internal communication workshops and strategy sessions can ensure that every team member, from the top brass to the intern, understands and aligns with the brand's core message.

7. The Global Vision Misalignment

A global brand vision is essential. But what if different departments, or worse, different regions, have their own interpretations of this vision? It's like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle with pieces from different sets.

The Mistake: Let communication strategies operate in silos, leading to disjointed efforts and messages that don't align with the larger brand vision.

Example: PepsiCo's "Live For Now" campaign in 2017. The ad, meant to resonate with a younger audience and touch upon contemporary social issues, ended up facing severe backlash for trivializing significant movements. This was not in sync with their global brand ethos, leading to a major PR hiccup.

The Solution: Establish a unified global brand vision. This vision should be the guiding light for all communication strategies across departments and regions. Regular global strategy meetings and synchronized brand guidelines can help in ensuring that the brand's voice remains consistent across the board.

8. The "It’s Just Business" Attitude

Behind every business is a throng of people - employees, consumers, partners, and even critics. It's more than just business; it's a collection of human experiences.

The Mistake: Ignoring the human element and treating communication strategies solely as a tool for profits, sidelining empathy and genuine connection. It's like dating someone for their wallet – it's not going to end well.

Example: United Airlines' PR fiasco in 2017, when a passenger was forcibly dragged off an overbooked flight. Their initial response lacked empathy and sounded robotic, exacerbating the crisis.

The Solution: Every communication, whether it's a tweet or a press release, should be grounded in empathy. Understand the pulse of your audience, and ensure your messaging resonates with their feelings.

9. The Shiny New Toy Distraction

Innovation is vital, but so is discernment. Not every new tool, platform, or trend deserves to be a part of your communication strategy.

The Mistake: Jumping on every new platform or trend without assessing its relevance to your brand or audience. It's like a child getting every toy they see, only to play with them for five minutes.

Example: Remember when QR codes were the next big thing? Many brands started plastering them everywhere, from billboards to business cards, without considering if their audience even used them. The result? A lot of pointless, unused QR codes.

The Solution: Before adopting a new tool or trend, conduct a thorough analysis. Will it resonate with your audience? Does it align with your brand messaging? If the answer is no, it might be best to pass.

10. The Not-So-Smart Automation

In the age of AI and bots, automation is tempting. But one must tread carefully.

The Mistake: Over-automating to the point where communication loses its personal touch. It's like sending a recorded message on your partner's birthday instead of a heartfelt note.

Example: Numerous brands use automated DMs (direct messages) on Twitter as soon as someone follows them. While this may seem efficient, it often feels spammy and insincere to the receiver.

The Solution: Use automation wisely. While it can streamline operations, ensures there's still room for genuine, human interaction.

Understanding Where You Stand: The Business Communication Checklist

Let's get real for a second. A lot of businesses are out there, yapping away, thinking they've got it all under control. They've read the manuals, they've attended the webinars, and they're convinced their communication strategy is solid. But here's a thought: Are they actually hitting the mark, or just shooting in the dark?

Understanding the strength and efficiency of your communication strategy isn’t about how big your email list is, or how many likes you get on your company's recent tweet. It's about evaluating if your messages are landing the way you want them to, resonating with the right crowd, and fostering genuine engagement.

For the business leaders who like things straightforward (because, honestly, who has time for fluff?), here's a concise checklist. It’s a practical way to evaluate if you're truly making waves in the vast sea of business communication, or just causing tiny ripples.

1. Target Audience Calibration:

Have you precisely defined your target audience lately? Remember, "everyone" isn't an audience.

2. Variety in Communication:

Are you stuck on just one platform or are you spreading your charm across various channels?

3. Time Travel Test:

Is your strategy flexible enough to evolve with the times, or is it stuck in the yesteryears like a forgotten boy band?

4. Message Consistency Check:

Are your brand messages consistent or are they causing a brand identity crisis?

5. Global Alignment:

Is your communication resonating with the global brand vision or is it lost in translation?

6. Humanity & Empathy Meter:

Is your strategy all business, or does it have a heart? Check for signs of genuine human connection.

7. Over-Automation Alert:

Are you letting bots do all the talking? Remember, nothing beats genuine human interaction.

8. Trend vs. Relevance:

Are you chasing every shiny new trend or only those that make sense for your brand?

9. Volume Control:

Is your brand always talking and never listening? Sometimes, silence and active listening can speak volumes.

10. Innovation vs. Efficiency:

Are you innovating for the sake of innovation or to genuinely enhance efficiency and customer experience?

See you at Bolder

Navigating business communication is less about noise and more about nuance. At **Bolder Agency**, we align with the pioneers in tech, sustainability, and social impact. The first step to making a difference? Nail that communication strategy.

Want to lead the wave with clarity and precision? We're here, ready to help. Reach out, and let’s craft a message that resonates, engages, and drives impact.

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