The success of your brand relies partly on your ability to communicate your message, objectives, and goals with your audience. You could have the greatest product or service out there, but if you or one of your employees aren’t very skilled in the art of communication, you’re already way behind your competition.
Delivery is key. You need to be able to gauge your audience properly before personalizing your message. This is true of both your online persona and your online persona. Think about the behaviors, tendencies, and mannerisms of the bulk of your target audience. Are they younger? Are they typically laid back or are they strict verbose professionals?
Most importantly, always remember: even if you happen to be an expert on your industry and have the best idea and pitch in the world, no one is going to care if you deliver your message like a jerk.
So what are some things you can do to ensure that you are effectively delivering your message? Well, many of the following factors are intangibles but can be worked on with some intentional research and preparation. Before you set out to deliver your message—be it online or to a small group in a meeting room—ask yourself how you score on the following areas.
Are You a Good Ice-Breaker?
There is an art to breaking the ice. Unless you are in some sort of odd pitch session that is timed and already reaching its limit, you never want to start a conversation off right away with pitching your message. This can not only come off as rude, but also pushy. This approach makes your audience assume that you care nothing for them and just the attention and money that you hope to get from them.
In terms of breaking the ice, there are multiple ways to get it done, especially if you know your audience well. Open up with something that has been prominent in the news or, as clichéd as it may sound, even the weather.
In face-to-face encounters, ice-breaking needs to be more centralized. Maybe you make a comment about the building you are in or, another presumed clichéd topic, traffic. Whatever you decide to use, make sure it is quikc, succinct, and that it allows ample segueway into presenting your message.
Online, this is slightly easier as you have full control of the environment. You can lead off with whatever you want and dictate the flow of the “conversation” as well as the transition. Be tactful, though and make sure your content flows well and is not just a cleverly disguised attempt at shoving your message in the faces of your readers.
Are You Empathetic?
If you have shaped your brand around the needs and lifestyles of those you consider your audience, you should have no problem empathizing with them. This is because, if you have done your job correctly, you fully understand why they are looking for the products or services that you are offering.
Use this information to really help deliver your message and better define your brand. At the same time, be careful not to base your approach on what you believe your audience expects from you; you also need to understand the motives of your audience and genuinely care about their needs. Letting your audience know that you care about their needs is more important than the fact that you can potentially offer them something that can meet those needs.
Can You Adapt on the Fly?
If you’re a “people watcher” this trick can come in handy. If you are not, this is a strategy that might be hard to learn but can pay dividends when you finally perfect it. This strategy is effective mostly in offline communications but can be utilized on social media platforms to some degree.
Have you ever been speaking to someone (or even a group) and noticed how their posture and mannerisms seem to evolve as you speak? This an go one of three ways:
1) Your audience is unchanged: through the course of your pitch, their posture remains the same and they seem uninterested.
2) Members of your audience will sit up straight and maybe even lean into their desk or table as they listen to you speak. Their eyes will rarely leave you.
3) You’ll see a lot of people leaning back in their seats with their arms folded. Some may be looking at the ceiling. Others may find something interesting on their fingernails.
If you can read people this way, you can start to shift your presentation. If you can tell from body language and posture that you are losing their interest and attention, shift or another delivery method. Maybe they are looking for a bit of humor. Or maybe all those stats and figures you are dropping on them are boring them. Do what you can to save yourself by altering your delivery methods. Unless you are already in the closing segment of your conversation, there is always time to save it.
Can You Relate?
This is easy to do in both online and offline situations. The ability to relate to your audience makes your brand seem more appealing. Relatability shows your audience that although you are offering a product or service that they want and/or need, you are really just like them.
If your audience is made up primarily of people that have kids, talk about your own kids or, if you don’t have any, perhaps the kids of some of your friends and family. If you know there are lots of sports fans in your audience, take the time to talk about a recent sporting event.
Of course, you don’t want these trivial items to become the bulk of your message. But you can use them to make your audience feel more comfortable and at ease when it comes to working with you.
This also opens the door to being able to relay stories of how you have helped other customers just like them, in their same situations. This little strategy then allows you to subtly slip in past performance examples without coming off as being pushy or sales-driven. When you are able to relate to even the smallest detail about a customer, you become more than just a business to them. You have personalized your brand for them and have likely made a customer for life.
Are You a Good Listener?
This one is a no-brainer. If you can’t listen to your audience and give them the attention that they deserve, you’re going to fail. Even if you are a master at conversation and have no problem with making others listen attentively to you, you also need to be a great listener. You need to be able to take in and analyze everything your audience says. You then need to be able to figure out how you can relate to what they are saying and how your brand can meet their needs and concerns.
This applies to online exchanges as well. Don’t just write content such as an article or blog post and never return to it. Always take the time to read customer and reader comments. If they agree with you, find out why. If they disagree with you, it’s important to understand what you can do also identify with them and how your brand might be bettered by understanding such disagreements.
In keeping all of this in mind, you also want to make sure that you are staying true to your brand. The ability to slightly adapt your brand to customer needs and wants is crucial, but so is remaining absolute in your brand’s message. A brand that flip-flops consistently is just as bad as one that does not pay attention to what their audience is saying.