FRAMEWORKS FOR THINKING ABOUT COMMUNICATION
I was in the middle of a discussion with a friend about self evaluation, and the discussion veered around how most companies go about designing a corporate website or a brochure.
Here’s how the discussion was:
We see a corporate brochure or website and the typical discussion which happens is around how it should look and what content it needs to contain.
It’s like we’re seeing the trees but missing the forest, we’re missing the main purpose of the website or brochure.
What is the purpose?
However, when you think of a brochure or a website, in fact any kind of corporate communication medium, you need to think of three things.
1. What do we want people to Know
2. What will people Remember
3. What do we want people to Do
When people are viewing your content, what is it that you want to communicate to them, what is it that you want them to Know.
What is it that they will remember, most people forget 90% of a communication after less than a day. So you need to design your communication in a way that people remember your key message.
What do you want people to do (action) as a result of the communication? Do you want them to sign up to an email list, connect with your consultant, or buy?
Content specialists are focused in the wrong direction
Content specialists are focused on the orange circled part. What sections need to be there, how many sections will there be? How many pages of content do we need to write? Blah blah blah and more blah. Now I’m not saying that one should not talk about or not consider these things, they are important however, they are secondary. What is important is to focus on what we want our reader, viewer to know, remember and ultimately do.
Find Purpose and the means will follow
Purpose of content communication typically might be a desired action or transaction, however, depending on what stage people are at, getting to that point of action might be different for different people.
You might want to hence lead him to more information, which you might provide via a frequently asked questions (F.A.Q) list, or via a blog, or via a newsletter, or your website if the information is being viewed in a brochure. The point being you’re making sure that a person who is just beginning to get aware has an opportunity to engage with you further and move on to the transaction stage where he exchanges something with you. This could be in the form of a potential customers email id in exchange for subscription to your report on the “10 ways to save tax legally – Report” or your newsletter which provides “Tips on how to create a parallel source of income” or your blog etc.. Essentially in the transaction stage some thing gets exchanged between both parties.
This transaction can also be a physical meeting with your representatives to get personal queries answered, or via an online forum, where further queries could be answered. Here again the potential customer shares their personal information, in exchange for more information.
The purpose of your content strategy
The objective of your brochure or website is to get the reader to know, remember and then do some action. Depending on which stage of the customer journey that person is in they may seek further information , want answers to questions or a person who is convinced might be ready for a purchase. Your content needs to help the person move from the initial awareness stage (knowing and remembering), to doing something, a transaction and finally consumption.
(Note: Consumption is getting the customer to fully use your product, more on this in another article. Additionally, despite your best efforts the person may not move to the transaction stage, however, that’s the objective, the purpose of your content communication strategy.).
The people challenge
Do you notice the challenge?
When you look at the people involved in pulling this off, you’d realize that three different kind of people (inner orange circle) are required, a designer, writer and an engineer. Especially when we’re creating an online presence. All three of them need to work in tandem to create and execute a comprehensive communication strategy, which will clearly communicate to the client what the client needs to know, remember and do.
Even though I’ve put names against a specific part of our framework, that doesn’t mean that branding is only the designers forte, copy plays a huge role here too. Similar in terms of what functionality or what action we want to influence.
Know, Remember and Do Framework (KReD)
So having the KReD framework is the first crucial part of a communication strategy, which one needs to consider. Thinking about what you want the potential customer to Know, Remember and ultimately Do is key, in ensuring that you deliver value to your clients. Understanding this ensures that we capture the basic essentials of the client objective. However, this is just the first step. We need to design communication which captures these three essentials and communicates it effectively to the end consumer.
How can we design content communication effectively?
How to get people pay attention to your content? Even if you use the basic KRED (Know, REmember and Do) framework, and decide what needs to be communicated to your customers. Effectively communicating your ideas to your clients and their end customers is a challenge . Frameworks come in handy here as well to address your content to both your clients and their customers.
Seven frameworks for effective content communication
The problem solution framework
Essentially communicating key problems and how your product or service provides a solution. The problem attracts the mind of the customer faster than most other things, it shows the customer that one understands the pains they face. The solution presents your approach to solving the problem.
An analogy is often the best way to easily explain a new idea to customers. For e.g. I’ve used the above visuals to explain a financial product.
Here the investment approach the agency used was a combination of savings instruments (hence the piggy bank visual), as well as a three pronged approach to reducing risk of the customers principal invested amount, so the analogy to a three legged chair versus a two legged chair which would be unstable.
Analogies can help simplify and make your ideas stick.
Facts and Figures
Sometimes the clearest way to communicate is to lead by stating the facts and figures upfront. As they say letting the facts speak for themselves. Additionally, providing meaningful visuals can aid comprehension of the impact of your product or service.
Testimonial led content
Sometimes it’s best to have customers speak about their positive experiences with you, rather than you toot your own horn. This is often more convincing that anything the company says about itself. Here it’s customers speaking to the readers in a language which is away from corporate talk and more down to earth and believable from a customers standpoint.
Empowering the customer by education led content can be extremely powerful as this can alter how the customer views you, from a sales, corporate entity to someone who could be trusted.
Mascots and building a unique character
A mascot provides valuable hooks be top of recall and help consumers associate with a brand. It adds value by building an identity apart from your product. It can help be a representative of the brand, which stretches beyond the lifetime association of a typical employee. Mascots can also help add character and value to a brand when it’s moving ahead in new directions.
Stories stick around in memory way after one has first encountered them, and who doesn’t like a good story? A story can be your most powerful tool to easily and effectively communicate your content.
When to use which framework?
It depends on a two key people, your customer and the potential clients your customer is pitching to. For e.g. if this is a new product which is complex to understand, you might want to use analogies to communicate. If however, you want to prove credibility and higher customer preference, you might choose to use the Testimonial Led Content as a framework. Your customer would be able to decide which of the above best works. However, the final deciding factor is chosen based on the end client who is going to consume the website or the brochure. Depending on what is easiest for them an approach has to be selected.
Along with the KRED (Know, REmember and Do) framework, using any or a combination of the above frameworks helps in defining a way for the team working on the content communication to effectively communicate your ideas to your clients and their end customers.
1. I came across the Know, Remember and Do idea in Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin book.
2. A thank you, to Amit Sharma a colleague who recommended the acronym KReD for the Know, Remember and Do framework.)