C is for Communications – but really it is about E – Emotions

C – EP Alphabet

By Chris Sheppardson, Managing Director, EP

In a world where the average executive receives over 150 emails per day and where the average teenager spends on average 6 hours per day on mobile communications, it is fair to say that being heard today is far more difficult than ever – so how does one today need to communicate?

It is a genuinely difficult craft today. Twenty years ago, it was said that one would have to tell another something three times for it to be heard and to resonate – and it was true. Today it is estimated to be 7x. So how does one get a message to a target audience 7x? It is not easy.

The big change is that story telling has come to the fore and been far more successful in reaching audiences. An audience does not want to be talked at or talked to anymore – they want to be part of the story; to feel the emotion and feel a connection. This has stood at the heart of the John Lewis Christmas Adverts over recent years whether the Man on the Moon advert or this year’s Elton John Story which really brings to life how important a present can be to a young person – told through the life of Elton John.

So the real question to ask – does your company tell a story to its audience about the product or services that it offers?

Too many communicators still talk with a coldness that simply does not resonate with the reader. There needs to be a story that can be seen as being genuine, authentic and creates a personal connection between company and individual.

One of the great tests and questions to ask anyone is the sit down and name the five top TV adverts they can recall with no prompting? It creates interesting results. There will be those that, of course, say that they watch no TV so name three adverts in tube stations that they can recall. The average London commuter will walk past 65 adverts on a single trip so how much money is wasted? How many messages do not even catch the attention of the passer by?

There needs to be something that creates an emotional connection with a target audience. Again think of the Jack Daniels Whiskey campaigns in recent times which have been founded around the history of Jack Daniels – the passion for the product that the original founders had for it; the love that Frank Sinatra had for it. History and legacy stories can be very effective as they create an emotion that people can connect with.

It is one of the interesting contradictions of the time – there is far more information available, far more transparency and yet arguably the great differential today is emotion.

It is argued that the consumer today is seeking ever greater experiences – whether extreme or unique. They want to feel an emotion. Sporting event audiences are on the increase as is pre and post-match hospitality. Box sets and TV series are enjoying maybe their most successful periods of time ever and logically so as they can build characters that the audience wants to follow and “binge” watching has become a relatively new phenomenon.

The best communications are personal – they connect to the audience and hence “people” stories are naturally successful. There is good reason why so many magazines lead with a picture of a person or of food – both visually attract an audience and create an emotional connection.

So what is your story? Do you even know? Who is the face of your business and who is it that the audience wants to connect with?

And there lies the great contradiction that does say so much about people. The world today has never been more controlled, technologically dominated and yet there is little more important than emotional connection between a company and an audience. Still too many companies talk about the importance of their brand but a brand today needs a face, personalisation and the human connection. The Olympics maybe the greatest example of this – the success of the Olympics is all about the human story – most especially stories about an underdog upsetting the odds or the return of a former champion to greatness.

Communications…….it is about the emotional connection.

So what is your story?