This is our unofficial company motto and it has stood us in good stead over the years.
We all make assumptions: assuming it won’t rain because the weather forecast said it wouldn’t or in my case, assuming that it will rain because I have just washed my hair and I have neither a jacket nor an umbrella!
But we are all too often completely wrong.
We tend to believe that other people will buy in to our world view and think and behave in the ways that we expect them to. This is particularly true in marketing and PR. A few examples illustrate what I mean:
‘Our target audiences will want to read about/buy our products’. Just because you have identified someone as a potential customer does not automatically mean that they will appreciate that they should be interested in what you have to sell. At the very least you will need to work at getting their attention and possibly accept the unpalatable fact that some will not respond.
‘We’ve been around for years, everyone knows who we are and what we do.’ You need to keep the memory fresh. Times change and personnel, particularly journalists, move on. New players enter the market. Reputations need to be tended regularly and updated if your competitors are not to steal your limelight.
‘Big data tells us everything we need to know about our customers. All we have to do is push the right buttons.’ Really? Viewing this from your own experience as a consumer, do you find this a convincing statement? Could you predict exactly how those closest to you will react to something? And be right every time? Political parties often make this mistake and rely on data and focus groups to tailor individual policies that deliver what they think the voters want to hear. But without a distinct, convincing overarching identity which puts the tactical messaging in context, it is unlikely to elicit more than a short-lived response. Here the sum of the parts is definitely not greater than the whole.
So, treat your audiences with respect, don’t get too comfortable, and know that you have to keep working to capture their attention. The communications space is very overcrowded.