Marcom. Marketing Communications. Schools of Communication. Communication Technology. Courses in Communications. Often culminating in “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” (Guess the source.)
So what is communication or communications all about? And why does it so often fail?
You can check this for a starter http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication. Interestingly, one of the definitions: “Communication can be seen as processes of information transmission“ seems to encapsulate the problem.
If all we are doing is transmitting information, we should not be surprised when we fail to connect beyond the transmission. Too often, we declare victory because we “communicate”—we get a click through, an open and read, even a response (as meager as they still are—and we wonder why? Beyond the physical indication, have we actually connected?
I always have this picture in my mind of the World War II communications specialist with the big clunky box on their back; and the handheld phone or Morse code key attached by ground wire to some HQ functionary somewhere out of the line of fire. At great personal danger a line was laid, and with bullets whizzing and bombs flying they yell or tap madly away hoping someone actually hears them and if so responds.
That picture might be a good metaphor for so much of what happens in marketing today. Many companies are like those Comm specialists. They are in the line of fire—sustaining attacks by relentless competition—battered by their rivals and at war in the great struggle to acquire and retain customers/users/buyers/clients/consumers too and in their franchise.
They bob and weave and duck and take cover, all the while trying their hardest to advance and yelling ever louder into their handsets or pounding away ever madder at their keys. They know that in one sense they are connected but they have little or no clue if they have connected. See the difference?
In our day and age, communications is about process and technology. It’s an efficient and growing ever more efficient practice, but it’s not enough.
We need to connect, not at the tech level, but rather at the emotional and personal level. And, to do that we have to change our orientation:
Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.
Think about it. It’s not just semantics. Conversations are real. They are created through emotional contact. Yes they can be informative but they don’t stop there – check this out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversation and this line from the entry: “Conversations are the ideal form of communication in some respects, since they allow people with different views of a topic to learn from each other”.
It’s a value exchange. It’s not a mere connection; or some flow of electrons or digital signals. It’s not that poor private holding his helmet; with a finger in his ear as the dirt cascades down on doing his best to be heard over the din of war.
Rather it’s all about people—their needs and wants, their emotional hot buttons, their ideas and wishes. It’s about being insightful enough to create a value exchange that benefits you and the person or people you are trying to connect with.
It is about impact, because only conversations can be impactful, while communications is all about efficiency.
It takes insight; sensitivity and great listening skills to create conversations.
And it takes even more to create Impactful Conversations. But do that and “the failure to communicate” remains in the movies…just gave you a hint…
And that is the challenge.