Five Elements of Actionable Communications

All communications, from individual letters to large-scale campaigns, need to consider five key elements to ensure success

Effective Communication

“Your job is not to just SEND the communication, it is to ensure the message is acted upon”. Those were the words I heard from a mentor early in my career, and they have stuck with me ever since. When my manager told me this, he was effectively saying that my attempt at messaging was only about halfway there. My message was good, but it did not achieve the desired result – enacting change on the recipient’s part. Without the corresponding desired action part – the message is a failure. The marketing equivalent of a tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it.

The desired result of all communication is to enact some form of change. Get someone to buy the soap, remember the appointment, visit the Web site, etc. Often it is just to get the recipient interested enough to ask for more information. This holds true whether the communication is a one-to-one personal communication, or a targeted e-mail blast to thousands of recipients. In all cases, you are expecting the recipient to be changed in some way as a result of the communication.

I commonly say – “There is no “FYI” in marketing/communication”. You are not looking for people to do the “virtual head nod” and just acknowledge your communication. That won’t pay the bills. You need to have them in a position to act on it.  Their action ultimately should trickle down into dollars.

When crafting the communication ask yourself the following Five questions.

  1. Is the communication relevant to the recipient? (Targeting)
  2. Do I have a clear “call to action”? (Purpose)
  3. Is my communication reaching the recipient in a situation that allows them to take action? (Setting)
  4. Is my message being presented to the recipient at the proper time for them to take action? (Timing)
  5. Am I prepared to process the recipients subsequent action (Infrastructure)

Before you rush to get the message out the door, double check it.  Ask yourself these questions to increase your chances of success.