Thursday, July 2

Messaging: What Is It Anyway?

Any time Geoff Livingston writes anything about "messaging," I had a tendency to put my cup of coffee down. I'm likely to burn my lip or stain my shirt.

So back on June 16, coffee in hand, I started to put it down shakily as I read the headline of a Livingston post. "Conversation Starters: A Modern View of Messaging." Oh boy, I thought, it's still early here on the West Coast.

But as I read on, I stopped short of the coaster. His post wasn't to point out the evils of message control (as some people use interchangeably with message management), but rather the prompts for companies to reevaluate their messages. It wasn't too early after all.

A Modern View Of Message Management

I'm not really sure where message management became entwined with guarding company secrets or spinning away questions to avoid pertinent answers, but what Livingston describes as the modern view of message management is what I always believed it to be. Externally, it's fluid and responsive to the public. Internally, it's just a way for everyone to be on the same page.

After all, it takes 80 impressions (some say as many as 240 impressions) before a message begins to stick. So, simply put, if Bob says the best feature is price, and Sally says the best feature is quality, and Fred says the best feature is delivery, then the consumer — much like reading 20 bullet points in a newspaper ad — won't remember any of it. And frankly, chances are that two of the three are wrong anyway. Who knows? Maybe they are all wrong.

So what Livingston proposes in his post is quite simple. What do the customers say it is? Unless they are factually wrong, that is probably what the message ought to be.

Of course, that's not to say that companies can't start somewhere. Propose any authentic message you want. The lesson here is just don't marry it. Hmmm ... I'll drink to that. Next cup is on me, Mr. Livingston.


Geoff_Livingston on 7/2/09, 11:35 AM said...

Glad you liked the post. You knew I'd come around at some point ;)

Rich on 7/6/09, 8:56 AM said...


I did. And yes, I knew you would come around eventually.

You have more sense than the greater body of communicators, which is why all of us here read your stuff and secretly hold you to a higher standard.

All my best,


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