Taking Distractions Into Account

I went through a massive communication detox a while back. All of the push notifications on my phone had been reset, and for a couple weeks I was shaken by the consistency and sheer amount of interruptions there were.

Breaking down the list of distractions that affected my train of thought over the course of the day went as followed (and each one had a beep, buzz, ding, or on screen message)

  • Google daily agenda at 5am
  • Text from early rising friends
  • Morning Facebook posts
  • Morning Instagram posts
  • Morning emails
  • CP24 news alert
  • CBC news alert of cp24 news
  • Twitter posts about cp24 news
  • LinkedIn alerts
  • Midday social
  • Email alerts
  • Text messages
  • Gchat messages
  • Skype messages
  • iMessages
  • Afternoon recap on morning news
  • Tweets about recap
  • Repeat

It never really ended.

These are just the notifications on my phone from things that I have chosen to receive. Add in-person conversations, external media, other people’s devices, social responsibilities, family responsibilities, and professional responsibilities, it’s amazing we bother trying to add more influence to a person’s day.

This is the reality though. I am a pretty normal example of a connected person and I have little to no room for anymore noise. I can’t imagine what a person with young children has time for.

But these are often the “target audience” when we are crafting communication plans. We speak about the “overworked parent” or “busy professional” , but we still try to cram our message, slogan, offer, or jingle down their throat.

Effective non-selfish communication planning takes a few things into consideration:

  • How much free time does my audience have for what I want to share with them?
  • In knowing that they probably don’t have free time, what time/task in their day can I replace with what I want them to know and care about?
  • Knowing that I am probably asking them to give something up in order to make time for my communication, is what I am sharing compelling or “worth it” for this audience?

The presence of distractions will change the value of your messaging. We are interrupting people and we should treat the situation accordingly.

In my next post I will be talking about “engagement threshold” or how much we can ram in a person’s head before they stop taking information in, or worse, forget something critical we originally told them.

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Chris Gostling is an award winning Creative Director & CEO of Momentum Visual Inc., a Toronto based strategic marketing firm.
Chris & Momentum Visual have driven creative marketing strategy and execution for client’s such as Shoppers Drug Mart, Aeroplan, Parmalat Canada, Hain Celestial Canada, Apotex, General Mills, Canadian Tire, and RBC. Beyond being an accredited graphic designer by trade, Chris is a public speaker on topics ranging from strategic thinking, creative presentation coaching, and how to build a successful and well-rounded design portfolio.
In 2009 Chris founded Small Change 4 Big Change. This charitable foundation facilitates dignified food experiences for Toronto’s at-risk and homeless youth. 

Understanding What Our Audience Knows

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The old adage that gets used when someone doesn’t know something is “well you are not born knowing how to…”. We use this in defence of a lack of understanding.

This is true. We are not born knowing much other than pretty limited survival skills. This means there is a possibility that the group of people you really want to buy your product may not have any clue how and if it works, why they would need it, or what happens if they don’t get on board with what you are communicating with them.

This means that if your goal is to explain to a group of people or groups of people, the merits of your product or service, you need to understand what they know, before you can plan your communication strategy. Can you imagine the sales people for the telephone when it came out?

The challenge is how do we know what our audience knows?

One of the best ways to get to know someone is to listen to their questions. You can learn everything from comprehension to interest level in a specific area.

If you end up with a large group of people with different levels of comprehension, then your message will need to be delivered in multiple iterations so you are as inclusive as possible.

The problem is a lot of companies start with a limited understanding of their own message (which we will address in a later post), combined with a blanket message to either the lowest common denominator, or a message that only appeals to the most ideal consumer. Either way this will detract potential connection and relevancy with the original group.

This is just to acknowledge where the starting point is. If you have a large group of people that would really value from your communication, but set lacking a significant amount of base understanding, you will need to factor in the time and resources to get them up to speed first.

In the next post we discuss the other distractions that are impacting the attention span of a target audience.

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Chris Gostling is an award winning Creative Director & CEO of Momentum Visual Inc., a Toronto based strategic marketing firm.
Chris & Momentum Visual have driven creative marketing strategy and execution for client’s such as Shoppers Drug Mart, Aeroplan, Parmalat Canada, Hain Celestial Canada, Apotex, General Mills, Canadian Tire, and RBC. Beyond being an accredited graphic designer by trade, Chris is a public speaker on topics ranging from strategic thinking, creative presentation coaching, and how to build a successful and well-rounded design portfolio.
In 2009 Chris founded Small Change 4 Big Change. This charitable foundation facilitates dignified food experiences for Toronto’s at-risk and homeless youth. 

We Are Selfish Communicators

The entire professional world is made up of people trying to validate their education, training, experience, and abilities, but trying to “over confuse” their consumers and then ask to get paid for their alchemy.

The problem is that our survival, and our prosperity in everything from our professions, to our sex lives is tied to the quality of our communications with others.

Where this has shown up prevalently in marketing is the sales presentation or creative pitch. We throw as much jargon at our clients as possible as if they will love us more when they are confused.

The reality is that this confusion gets passed down the line through internal sales presentations, to training materials, to sales material, to ultimately disconnected customers. Great customer focused brands get this because they personally understand their core competencies and consumer offering, in the same way the customer would best understand and connect with it.

So how do we make this madness stop?

We need to do two three things,

  • Understand who our audience is
  • Understand what our message truly is
  • Live by and present ourselves to our audience based on this new understanding.

Easy eh?

I will be breaking this down in a series of posts.

This series is based on a lecture given at Social Capital 2014, in Ottawa which was based on a 6 week coaching series that Momentum Visual created on behalf of a client.

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Chris Gostling is an award winning Creative Director & CEO of Momentum Visual Inc., a Toronto based strategic marketing firm.
Chris & Momentum Visual have driven creative marketing strategy and execution for client’s such as Shoppers Drug Mart, Aeroplan, Parmalat Canada, Hain Celestial Canada, Apotex, General Mills, Canadian Tire, and RBC. Beyond being an accredited graphic designer by trade, Chris is a public speaker on topics ranging from strategic thinking, creative presentation coaching, and how to build a successful and well-rounded design portfolio.
In 2009 Chris founded Small Change 4 Big Change. This charitable foundation facilitates dignified food experiences for Toronto’s at-risk and homeless youth. 

Why The Hell Are We Doing This? And Other Questions We Ask.

Our work as marketers is not very gratifying much of the time. We are not painters, or gardeners, or doctors, or any profession where there is a high daily possibility of seeing gratification at that absolute edge of our original goal, for us it’s the consumer.

Sure we have clients that are happy and pay us, and we give and get awards for being the cleverest kittens in the class, BUT not alot of our time is spent in witness of the actual end consumer, connecting with what we create.

Over a rocks glass of wine last night I replaced the battered covers of the custom designed and built menus for The Roxton, a restaurant client of Momentum’s. In looking at this pile of tattered covers, beaten up by excited patrons to the restaurant, looking to be fed. These menu covers embody the actual connection with the people we were hoping to connect with when we designed the menus.

It’s great to see, and I find that bringing pieces like that back to the team show that our work can be very gratifying and we can connect with actual people.

If you are reading this, I would love to know how you find proof of work effort. Where do you seek that moment of gratification that keeps you going?

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Chris Gostling is an award winning Creative Director & CEO of Momentum Visual Inc., a Toronto based strategic marketing firm.
Chris & Momentum Visual have driven creative marketing strategy and execution for client’s such as Shoppers Drug Mart, Aeroplan, Parmalat Canada, Hain Celestial Canada, Apotex, General Mills, Canadian Tire, and RBC. Beyond being an accredited graphic designer by trade, Chris is a public speaker on topics ranging from strategic thinking, creative presentation coaching, and how to build a successful and well-rounded design portfolio.
In 2009 Chris founded Small Change 4 Big Change. This charitable foundation facilitates dignified food experiences for Toronto’s at-risk and homeless youth.