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Listening is the new talking. Why a comms audit within your business is timely and valuable

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Listening is the new talking.

And as such, it’s time to re-read the market, your customers, your employees, communication channel trends and your own storytelling needs in the post Covid world to protect, build and flourish in a world of new rules.

We are scared of what might shape the future might take. We are running to stand still. Breaking even in business will be a major win this year. But there is opportunity for the listeners amongst us.

We are in a new era of being more personal, or finding the way to be really relevant and of not just marketing outwards but of building many micro relationships where you show your stakeholders that they matter.

And taking time to overhaul your communications is part of that. You might not want or be able to change what you make or sell, but you can shift the narrative behind that in some core areas. Areas that you perhaps have taken for granted or had on auto pilot.

Something that Covid times have instilled in us is a refreshed sense of curiosity. About how we are treated, about the information we consume, about what is around us. Brands and businesses have started to share how they have been looking after their workforces, what their safety policies have been, how the business dynamics have been continuing, things that in the past where not on the communications radar.

And employees have quite rightly been more questioning, more doubtful and more concerned about their futures, with transparency of employer something that will have ben looked at and assessed.

Social media influencers have retooled their approaches to make sure they are adding value, solutions and advice/help to their followers, parking what could sometimes be shallow but fun and taking on a sense of guiding hand and rescuer from challenges, monotony and struggle that people have faced.

And many of our buying decisions have undergone a fresh review for value offered, values shown and overall necessity and desire when budgets are tight at work or at play.

So if context has changed, so should your content, methods and approach. Starting with the communications fabric and the heart of your business

So first up…do your employees understand the business plans, direction and your need from them? And have you engaged and listened on how they can help you as ambassadors, storytellers, and ideas people? With Linked in revealing recently that a third of the workforce is looking for a new job, keeping the talent you want to and are able to requires a fresh partnership mentality and high-level communication. From being mental health aware, to boosting motivation and recognising ‘we are all in this together’, tough times can lead to finding answers in different places. And far from abdicating leadership, it's embracing leadership modernity.

Centrally…does your marketing and storytelling fit what potential customers want to see and hear from businesses right now? Does it deliver a spirit of education and teaching them something they might not know, wrapped up in an entertaining format that makes them want to take note? And told in a way that clearly fits their lives and needs now, as opposed to disrupts it? This useful and generous vibe is what is helping brands win.

This might mean shifting your social media content planning, reinventing the pillars that shape what you share to be right for the times. It might mean finding new editorial stories to tell from within the business that you haven’t spotted or considered before that feel newly relevant. Or focusing much more on storytelling and focus on your local community as localism enjoys a real economic boost. Or finding partnerships and shared platforms. Putting a half day aside with your team to rethink the strategy could lead to three months of fresh thinking to max the hell out of.

Some things in the current world feel out of your control, but the more you share the story you want to tell and that at the same time people need to hear, the better your chance of success. It doesn't have to mean big budget marketing, as the core here is your genuine, authentic storytelling. And reviewing it will reveal things you hadn't thought about sharing before that suddenly feel much more interesting for today.

And finally and very much linked to the above…have you listened to what your customers or potential customers like and respect about you, what else they might need from you, what is impressing them from other sectors, and how you can cement their interest in you and what you share with them. What do they need to hear about, what are they unclear about, and what formats are they finding time to consume in terms of content? If you don’t ask, you don’t get. But if you are just putting out noise rather than something of value, then you might not get either…

It's about finding the value exchange, which is the middle ground between your products and services and the audience wants and needs. That has always been the case in theory, but good products and services alone are not necessarily and currently enough unless that understanding of who you are talking to, and the showing of the personal touch, is really lived.

Whether you do this yourself, or you use a comms professional to manage the audit and reforge your lower cost end marketing, it’s the time to energise, to learn and recognise that ‘we aren’t in Kansas anymore’, and that market and cultural shifts are there to grab hold of and benefit from.


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