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The communications gap

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The other day I came across a quotation by Steve Jobs which rang a chord with me. He said: â??Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But itâ??s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.â?

Letâ??s be honest; this industry loves a bit of complification. And yes, I realise thatâ??s just a made up word (and in the context of this blog, ironic in an Alanis Morissette kind of way, donâ??t you think?). But hey, decumulation isnâ??t a word either and that fact hasnâ??t stopped it creeping into â??provider speakâ??. Iâ??m not necessarily having a go at providers here. Itâ??s just a simple fact that once you get into a way of speaking, a habit if you will, itâ??s very hard to change. The financial services world has always had a language of its own, and itâ??s constantly changing, so no one really becomesâ?¦ eh.. fluent in it. It doesnâ??t help that the very people the products and services are aimed at, by and large, have no idea what weâ??re all banging on about.

And itâ??s not just what we say to our customers thatâ??s the problem. Itâ??s the way we deliver the messages too. Many companies just bombard the market with complex messages, product promotions, proposition tweaks and jargon filled regulatory announcements â?? sadly with no strategic connection or forethought into how the messages will be perceived or acted upon.

The other problem is â?? and this is a controversial bit â?? that many of the â??messagesâ?? and in turn the business strategies, are dreamt up by people with little or no communications expertise. Often someone with a big egg head and a whiz-bang excel spreadsheet leads, or at least develops, the communication strategy and the marketing department simply falls in line with the number crunchers (whatâ??s that? Not your company? Obviously not. I wasnâ??t talking about you. Well done). This tactic, or lack of tactic, has completely failed in any meaningful way to engage end customers or close any of the gaps â?? be they savings, protection or trust. Itâ??s just not good enough. Hereâ??s an idea. Letâ??s simply start sorting out the communications gap, and see where that takes us?

Many businesses forget that a simple message isnâ??t necessarily borne out of what you do, rather what youâ??re about and what you stand for. In short, your core values.

Before you even start to think about a product message or a communication to customers promoting your wares, stop and think about your core values first. What makes you different from any of the other financial services businesses out there today? If you canâ??t find at least one thing to differentiate yourself, you might as well pack up and go home.

Blatant service plug coming up.

If you think your external messaging could do with a refresh, get in touch. There has never been a better time to look at your communication and PR strategy. What are you going to say that will make your customers sit up and take notice? What reasons are you giving people to believe in what you do? Remember; simplicity can move mountains.

I started this with a quotation and Iâ??m going to end with one too. This oneâ??s an ancient Chinese saying: â??If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.â?

And remember, you are not Bill Murray, and you are not going to get to sleep with Scarlett Johansson.
And remember, you are not Bill Murray, and you are not going to get to sleep with Scarlett Johansson.
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About Mark Locke

PR and external communications lead. Winner of many PR accolades. Proposition launches, major announcements, reputation and crisis management – you name it he’s done the strategic comms or PR’d it. Rarely seen without mobile phone to ear.