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How to Use Emotional Targeting in Ad Campaigns

Emotions are powerful. We all know that. But what’s not so obvious is that when it comes to advertising campaigns, focusing on emotional elements can heighten the quality of your storytelling and the authenticity of your content, as well as consumer engagement and brand affinity.

Emotions are so powerful in campaigns that they can even evoke a greater intent to buy. In fact, Kissmetrics Blog mentions a research study, conducted by Pringle & Field, that finds “emotional campaigns outperform on almost every metric.” This includes revenue, profit and share gain.

So how do we successfully, and gracefully, use emotional targeting in our campaigns? What emotional aspects can we research and tap into? Read on to find out!

Psychological triggers

Emotions can lead people to take certain actions. So when developing a campaign, you’ll really need to think about why people are buying. Think about your product or service. Does it create a certain feeling — good or bad? Could it possibly make consumers think of specific life events? How do those life events correlate to their possible emotions? In general, feelings of happiness lead to more responses, shares and ultimately, sales.

This approach actually has a name: it’s called joy marketing. Eventbrite does this well in its Facebook ads. It makes sense — Eventbrite is an online event registration company for social events, so of course the ads should be inclusive to all and display happy people. However, other brands can take note of this strategy and apply it to their ads as well.

Throughout Eventbrite’s Facebook ads, you can see the company using three main tactics to elicit a certain emotion:

  • Bright and contrasting colors
  • Photos with smiling people
  • Language with positive connotation

What’s the underlying message each of these tactics is sending? Happiness. And this becomes two-fold. The viewer will likely feel the positivity that the ad exudes and begin to associate that with the specific offer and the brand itself.

Memories and associations

Similar to psychological triggers, memories and associations also play a large role in the buying process. No matter what your product is, you’ll want to extract the happiness out of it however you can. If it’s a product that’s typically associated with happy times, then you’re ahead of the game. If not, you’ll need to find a way to associate it with something positive in sentiment. When people connect your brand to happy memories or life events, you’re creating the emotion needed for more interaction and more intent to purchase.

Let’s take TurboTax for example. We all know that tax season isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite time of year. The reality is, TurboTax is starting on the negative end of the spectrum simply through association of a less-than-ideal life event. However, the company has a great opportunity to create a positive angle, which it has clearly recognized and implemented. In its advertising, TurboTax ties in meaningful life events (marriages, birth of children, etc.) to show that they can use those events to get their customers a higher tax return. It created positive emotions for the customer for multiple reasons: they’re reminded of those happy times, which can distract them from the burden of tax season, and they now understand that this company can get them more money. TurboTax found a strategic way to creatively extract the positive aspects out of its service.

Regardless of your product’s usual sentiment, you can apply creativity to showcase the positivity. We look at Hershey’s Chocolate for a great example of this. The company tweeted an Easter message with the copy, “Who makes your #Easter all the more sweet? #HelloHappy.” The picture includes Hershey’s chocolate and two small children enjoying the chocolate in all their holiday happiness. See the ad here. The sweets company mastered it with this one: associating positive memories with the product and making people truly intertwine the two — almost like you can’t imagine a happy Easter without your Hershey’s chocolate bunny.

Social aspects

It only makes sense that social elements would play into these buying emotions, as well. Feelings of inclusion and belonging go a long way when people are considering different products. More specifically, consumers want to relate to the people they see in the ads or even feel like they’re involved with a meaningful cause. If they feel like they belong with those people, or feel like they could belong if they bought the product, they’re more likely to purchase.

This can be a tricky one to master, but we see companies like Coca-Cola doing this well. For instance, look at the company’s “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” campaign. This shows the effectiveness of social input in advertising dating back to the 1970s! The company saw enormous brand engagement through this campaign, receiving more than 100,000 letters that shared consumers’ approval and also made requests for music for future commercials. The soft drink company was able to capture the essence of consumer engagement using positive emotions and feelings of happiness and togetherness.

The efforts from Coca-Cola still live on today, as it brought back the “Share a Coke” campaign and used the personal touch of first names on the cans. It uses the same emotional positioning of inclusiveness and friendship as its campaign in the 1970s. Check out the more recent campaign here.

FOMO

Sorry, what?

FOMO: a term that Millennials have created that stands for “fear of missing out.” Essentially, it’s a feeling that comes up when a person sees something happening that they think would be fun or cool, and they don’t want to miss out on it. Although it’s a relatively new term, it is a serious physiological element to consider. People alter their lifestyles, routines and schedules in order to not experience FOMO, so brands can certainly benefit from getting a grasp on this emotional concept.

Who can you learn from in this area? A company focused on growing website traffic called Sumo. The brand uses a sense of both exclusivity and urgency to leverage feelings of FOMO within the consumer. How? The company includes copy in its Facebook ads that make it seem as though everyone else is already using the software and that if you’re not yet using it, you’re missing out. According to the Kissmetrics Blog, Sumo uses these four considerations in its copy strategy:

  • Includes a number of users already reaping the benefits of the service (which is huge in the business of website traffic growth, as you wouldn’t want your competitors to get ahead)
  • Asks a question, hinting to something great that the viewer is missing out on
  • Makes the reader curious about the community and entices them to want to be a part of it
  • Gives a time limit on the offer, adding to the sense of urgency

You can see the company’s example here.

As you can see, there are so many considerations for emotional input during the buying process. With plenty of opportunities for tapping into these emotions, research and strategy are essential — you need to know your consumer well enough to understand how they’ll react.

Have you experienced the effects of emotional targeting? Or maybe your company has taken this approach? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Sources:

Kissmetrics — How Emotional Targeting Converts More Leads
Kissmetrics — 12 Genius Ways to Apply Emotional Marketing to Facebook Ads
HubSpot

Reaching Your Audience in the Right Way: A Review of Recent Ads

In advertising, not only are you trying to reach the desired target demographic for your product or service, but it’s important you reach them in the right way. Your message has to resonate with them in order for your ad to be effective, and the message can come in many forms: the channel, the design, the timing, the actual copy and more. So, there’s a lot to consider!

And that’s why it’s so important for brands and their marketing departments and ad agencies to prioritize research and strategy before they implement. Each ad campaign needs to be well thought out and viewed from diverse perspectives in order to refine the message and communicate effectively to the intended audience.

Advertisers can learn from the missteps of the soft drink giant Pepsi when it comes to considering these other viewpoints. While the intention was to deliver a message that’s relevant to current events and to make an emotional impact, it’s indisputable that the recent ad from Pepsi with Kendall Jenner, dubbed the “Live for Now Moments Anthem,” was poorly received. In a recent statement, Pepsi claimed, “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.” While the intention may have been positive, the public reaction clearly indicates that the message missed the mark and was largely regarded as tone deaf and even offensive.

Other brands can take away from this as well. As they continue to try to relate to current events and create powerful themes, they don’t always realize how the message could be misconstrued. It’s not that they have to water it down; they just have to remain diverse in their mindset, which can create an impact that’s even stronger and longer lasting.

While Pepsi failed in an attempt to capture the spirit of a social movement, other brands are stumbling as they try to insert their own messages into larger discussions on gender and human rights. With women controlling roughly 80% of consumer spending, advertisers need to do a better job of reaching women in a way that shows they understand and respect them. The examples below prove it can be done with grace and tact — that is, when brands listen to their audience, take the right approach, treat heavy subjects with respect and make their messages strong and clear.

 

Build an authentic understanding of your audience.

The example here is from SickKids Foundation. This ad is intensely moving, delivering an accurate depiction of an emotional subject. How do we know that? The foundation, and its ad agency Cossette, took the time to research and to talk to mothers whose kids are severely ill. They also included five real moms in the ad, which allowed the moms to share as much as they’d like while also providing authenticity to the message. Watch the ad below for a powerful message that aligns with the intended audience.

https://www.fastcompany.com/40405580/new-sickkids-ad-spotlights-the-unbelievable-strength-of-mom?utm_content=buffer9b956&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Approach sensitive subjects carefully and respectfully.

In this example, Audi does an excellent job with a topic that could easily be mishandled. The main lesson here is that sensitive subjects should be handled with grace and respect — and it can be really powerful when done correctly. You must be cognizant of whether you’re taking a topic seriously enough or using imagery that perhaps isn’t the best use for a commercial. If there are any questions about it, just don’t do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6u10YPk_34

 

Make sure your message and intentions are clear.

If your audience doesn’t understand your message, your advertising is not working and you risk offending them or even harming your brand. If there’s even a chance that it could be misinterpreted, you should either revise your approach or scrap the idea altogether. In recent efforts, REI is joining the fight for gender equality, specifically in the outdoor realm. The ad below does a great job with message clarity and intention, even with a sensitive topic.

https://www.fastcompany.com/40401325/rei-is-taking-the-fight-for-gender-equality-outside

 

What do you think about these companies’ approaches? Have you seen other ads recently that really hit the mark for their respective demographic? Let us know in the comments section.

3 Signs It’s a Good Time to Rethink Your Brand

It’s inevitable that things evolve. And your brand should, too.

While it may have been perfect for you when it was first developed, you might find yourself veering away from your original brand identity as your company changes — and that’s OK! But when that happens, you’ll need to makes changes to your brand so it’s always aligned with the current state of the company.

Sometimes, there are obvious signs it’s time to rebrand. And other times, it may not be so clear. Here, we’re sharing three telltale signs that it’s time to start thinking about rebranding efforts.

1. When you pursue a different target demographic.

Your target audience is (well, should be) at the core of everything you do. You create a brand that will resonate with and appeal to your audience so that you can relate to them. Not all brands will span this widely, but you can imagine how a brand geared toward millennial women would be wildly different than a brand meant for Baby Boomer men. Whether you’re making changes to a product, adding a new product, or simply tapping into a different audience group who may be interested, your brand will need to stay relevant to all potential demographics.

How might a brand expand to reach a diverse audience? Let’s look at Patagonia as an example. Incredibly strong brand, yes. But the company also has an incredibly varied target market — men, women, children, people of all ages, outdoorsy folks and more. So how do they manage to engage everyone? The company is united on its brand principles of quality products and environmentally conscious and sustainable manufacturing processes. With those two common threads, Patagonia is able to market to its differing target audiences and maintain a robust brand at its core.

2. When a competitor becomes more threatening.

A lot of times, rebranding comes from internal changes or restructuring. However, there are external pressures, too. It’s almost like playing defense. Let’s say an established competitor kicks up their momentum or a new competitor is quickly gaining attention. Rebranding can serve as a way to protect your business, giving you a chance to really differentiate yourself from others in the market.

Think about Uber and Lyft. For years, Uber was dominating the market and was hands down the most widely known. Then Lyft entered the game and gained traction quickly. This likely urged Uber to start formulating a plan, because last year around this time, they went through a rebrand.

3. When you outgrow your mission, culture, values, etc.

For this specific occurrence, all pressure to rebrand comes internally. And you’ll know when it’s time. As companies grow, they’re dealt higher expectations. Sometimes the strategy set forth from the beginning needs to be reevaluated a few years later. Whatever the circumstances, any significant company change can spark the need for a refreshed or completely rebuilt brand.

Here at GO2 Advertising, we’re currently putting the finishing touches on an exciting brand refresh. What prompted us to revisit our branding? A recent shift in our culture.

As an agency, we’ve been developing and executing strategic internal initiatives to enhance our culture. At the core of these efforts is our focus on employee-ownership — we all apply an ownership mentality to everything we do at GO2, and we wanted this positive shift in our culture to be reflected in our brand voice and visual identity.

We’re eager to begin sharing our refreshed brand elements this year, and we’re confident in what our brand will say about who we are as an agency.

Keep an eye out for a new GO2 website as we finalize our brand refresh!

Now it’s your turn — how do you evaluate when it’s time for a brand overhaul? Tell us about some of your branding challenges and triumphs in the comments below.

A Look at JetBlue’s “Flying It Forward”

Staying current and analyzing recent case studies allows agencies to broaden their thoughts on advertising initiatives and increase creativity with their own campaigns, especially when those campaigns come with restrictive or challenging guidelines. With that in mind, we’ve evaluated a recent campaign from a large company in the airline industry that tried something offbeat and proved that sometimes a fresh idea can lead to new business.

Shifting Focus

If you were given one flight to inspire humanity, where would you go? What would you do? These are the questions JetBlue passengers had to answer when participating in the “Flying it Forward” campaign.

The U.S. airline JetBlue was faced with increased pressure from its financial community to boost shareholder value. The best solution for this was to begin charging passengers for checked bags, which is something the airline had long avoided. In order to shift the focus to something positive, JetBlue came up with the Flying it Forward campaign.

In this social initiative, JetBlue started a “giving chain” by handing out a free flight to one deserving person. From there, that person had to “Fly it Forward” and give the free flight ticket to another deserving individual. The campaign sent positivity all over the world, showcased JetBlue’s destination options and overshadowed any concern for the new checked baggage charges.

Making an Impact

This campaign was successful in shifting the focus to positive aspects, while also showing off the airline’s range of destinations. It was also effective as it garnered very high participation levels and overall excitement. And probably the best thing about the campaign was the potential for longevity. Unlike many other campaigns that are strong but then fade out quickly, this one provided a continual source for content and customer connection.

  • Garnered more than 188 million total impressions, 1.5 million YouTube views, 60,000 site visits and hundreds of submissions
  • Secured a finalist position in the Shorty Awards (recognition for the best people and organizations on social media) for its Social Good Campaign & Travel segments
  • Increased brand consideration and ticket sales
So what can we learn from JetBlue?

This campaign demonstrates that in less-than-ideal situations, a company’s response doesn’t have to be about damage control — it can actually be an opportunity to build something new and foster brand affinity. We can also learn from JetBlue that campaigns don’t always have to be short-lived, which helps you build your brand and conserve resources like budget and creative content. Lastly, JetBlue’s campaign teaches us how using advertising to elicit specific feelings from customers can actually have direct ROI on sales and brand loyalty.

What do you think about the campaign approach? Comment below.

Introducing Stephen Massien

GO2 Advertising recently added another asset to the team. Steve Massien joined the agency to fill the position of Director of Business Development.

An accomplished strategist, Steve has demonstrated expertise in developing effective brand and sales acquisition strategies for B2B and B2C markets. He has worked for large corporations, medium-sized companies and advertising agencies in a variety of roles and locations, molding him into a versatile professional. Roles he has mastered include: marketing management, pricing and product development, business development, account management, advertising and sales promotion, public relations, internal communications and executive management. His education includes a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University.

Steve has a positive outlook for GO2 Advertising and is very excited to get started. His plans include working with the management team to develop a strategic plan for new-client addition and long-term growth.

In his spare time, Steve enjoys the outdoors. Anything from hiking and biking to kayaking, he loves staying active. He’s also an avid reader and movie viewer, and he’s a self-proclaimed music aficionado in all genres except hip-hop and polka. He’s married with two children and two grandchildren.

Four Common Misconceptions About Branding

Branding is complex — it’s the one task that must encompass promises you make to your customers, how you will deliver on those promises and how customers value your products. It involves a lot of moving parts and solid alignment between copy and design. Those who are not exposed to the intricacies of branding may, understandably, simplify the process and make assumptions about its true purpose. So let’s try to squash those common misconceptions and explain the realities of branding.

1. A logo is a brand.

This is a very common misconception, as logos are visual elements that exist at nearly every consumer touchpoint: website, packaging, social channels, etc. Logos are familiar to consumers, and they may become the first thing that pops up when thinking about a company’s brand. But a brand reaches far beyond a logo. A logo is more of a visual representation of the overall brand, an icon that communicates the overarching brand message and evokes similar emotions. It works both ways: brands are not totally complete without a logo, and a logo is never a complete brand.

2. Branding is only the responsibility of the Marketing/Advertising/Public Relations department.

If your company works by this belief, your brand will suffer. It is every employee’s responsibility to understand, support and represent the brand, and doing so will improve consistency and therefore brand equity. For example, if the Marketing department is pushing for a brand that listens to its customers and provides services based on what they want, but then the customer service isn’t up to par, the two departments are not aligned and the brand lacks consistency. This will affect the authenticity of the brand and ultimately how consumers view your brand and your company. Make sure everyone in your organization is prepared and empowered to be a brand advocate, and remember that consistency is key.

3. Branding and Marketing are the same thing.

While the two are closely aligned and certainly work together, branding and marketing are not the same thing. Branding represents what you want your consumers to understand about your company and product. It’s the overall messaging regarding promises you’ll deliver your customers. Marketing focuses on how you’ll get those messages out to your customers.

4. Branding isn’t necessary.

What do consumers tend to rely on most when making a purchasing decision — emotion or logic? It may surprise you, but the answer is emotion. Brands express an idea that consumers can relate to. So your company can (and should!) provide a stellar product or service, excellent customer service and appropriate pricing, but without a strong brand, something would still be missing. You need a brand in place to engage customers, evoke positive emotions and differentiate your company from your competitors. Never underestimate the ability of an effective brand to attract, influence and retain loyal customers.

content-brand-miscon

 

Have you witnessed these branding misconceptions? Do you know of others? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Social Media Driving Sales: A Quick Look at Instagram

Social media networks are excellent outlets for making new connections, reconnecting with past friends, uniting strangers who share common interests and more. But brands have also discovered the opportunity for social media to help drive sales.

Instagram, specifically, has been a trendsetter in social media sales. With 300 million monthly users (which is more than Twitter!), brands are using this platform to interact with and invest in customers. And it’s worth the effort because Instagrammers are shoppers! Iconosquare’s 2015 Instagram study shows 70 percent of Instagram users report they’ve actively looked up a brand on the platform. And 62 percent reported following a brand on the channel simply because they like the content it shares.

What does this mean for brands? The audience is there and willing to engage! So brands have to think of creative ways to close the sale. Let’s take a look at an example of how an independent hotel chain has used Instagram to do just that.

LikeToKnowLikeToKnow.it adds a distinctive link that sends users a dynamically created sales email
image credit – LiketoKnow.it

Starwood Hotels was looking for another way to allow customers to book rooms via Instagram after the platform blocked brands from placing a direct clickable link in posts unless they were sponsored. So, the company partnered with a shopping platform called LiketoKnow.it, and together they made booking a hotel room possible in one click within the social platform users were already on. If users click on the Instagram photo, they receive an email with the next step in the booking process. It’s that easy — no more searching around the Internet or jumping from app to app. One click, and the rest is waiting for you in your email.

Sponsored posts are still very much alive and active, and Starwood Hotels uses them at times. However, this marketing team has proved that with some creative thought, there can be so many more ways to effectively reach consumers where they already are and to simplify the booking process. Now, let’s look at an example of a service similar to LiketoKnow.it and how large brands use it to drive Instagram sales.

TapShopTapShop will send users to custom landing pages when they click your photos.
image credit – TapShop

Brands like Joss & Main and Etsy use a software-as-a-service (SaaS) called Piquora’s TapShop to enhance and streamline their advertising process on Instagram. TapShop will create a landing page for each brand where Instagram users can visit, sign up for email updates and purchase products directly. Additionally, if users are on the email list, they can simply like a brand’s photo and then receive an email with the product links for purchase.

There are many services similar to TapShop and LiketoKnow.it, and each one offers slightly different engagement and purchasing options for the customer. Regardless of which one brands choose, it’s clear that there are many options other than simple sponsored posts alone, and brands can creatively combine these methods to effectively refine the purchasing process for Instagram shoppers.

What are your thoughts on using social media as a sales channel? How might you engage potential customers following your pages?

How to Be a More Engaging Storyteller

No matter if you’re recounting stories around the campfire or telling a brand story to reach specific consumers, never underestimate the importance of engaging storytelling. Not only can you shine a light on your personality and more effectively evoke desired emotions through storytelling, but you can also keep your audience coming back for more.

To capture and retain the attention of your brand’s target audience, tap into the power of a good story with this simple strategy.

First, determine what engagement means.

Every time you’re telling a story and attempting to reach others, how will you determine if you’ve engaged them or not? What must someone do to be considered engaged? Are there different levels of engagement?

Use an initial hook.

Right away, give people a reason to care about what you’re about to say. Make them curious, and compel them to listen to you. If you raise a question in this section, be sure you answer it and continue to build upon that answer to keep them engaged.

Reflect before reciting.

The WIIFM (what’s in it for me) doesn’t end after the initial hook. Throughout the story, you still have to prove why your audience should care. This means you have some pre-work to do. You must reflect to determine the purpose of this storytelling, how it will resonate with your audience, how you want them to feel or react and truly why it’s relevant to them.

Be authentic, relatable, compelling, relevant and focused.

Phew! Sounds like a lot of different things to be all at one time. However, your audience is sure to recognize and appreciate you nailing each of these when telling a story. Each one is distinct and crucial. Let’s go through them one by one.

whatagreatstory

Props are not mandatory, but they are helpful.

Authentic

If you’re describing a product or service, be real with the consumer about what they can expect with usage and results. If it makes sense, use real customer testimonials to communicate the authenticity of your business.

Relatable

Figure out exactly whom you’re speaking with and communicate with them in a way that will resonate. Talking to millennials? Perhaps you should use a more relaxed tone.

Compelling

Add depth to your story. Use descriptive elements to describe your characters, situation, problem and resolution. If you’re using visual elements, consider how they’ll motivate your target audience. For example, if you need to show complex numbers, consider using a graph or chart.

Relevant

You’ll need to show relevancy in every aspect of the story, from the content to the tone to the medium. Again, this needs to relate back to your audience. How would your target audience respond to the content and the tone of your story?

Focused

Realizing the lack of attention spans, your story must be focused and direct, getting to the point in a complete but concise way. Use keywords strategically, and keep your messaging succinct.

The importance of storytelling is undeniable. And by following this engagement strategy, you’ll be captivating your audience in no time.

What are your thoughts? Is there anything you would add to this to make a story flow effortlessly into the ears — and minds — of your audience?

4 Ways to Enhance Your Employee Communication

An internal audience is arguably the most important segment for any organization to reach. Why is this? Employees are a company’s largest expense, and they are typically customer facing, so they can deeply influence brand perception.

It’s one thing to realize the significance of this audience and another thing to know how to reach them strategically. So, we’ve put together some of the best approaches to internal communication, each of which can be adapted to help you more effectively reach employees, driving greater engagement and results.

Use storytelling

storytellingStories are often more easily remembered than statistics or random facts. But the use of storytelling has importance beyond increased retention. By telling a complete story, you help employees further understand the relevance of your company strategy and provide real-life examples for them to associate with it. Stories are also more likely to draw the audience in and keep their attention longer. Just as you’d want to capture your customers with a story, the idea is the same for your internal audience.

Consider delivery method

deliveryThe way we communicate has evolved drastically over the last five years, and the essence of change is bound to continue. Not only do you have to consider the message you’re communicating, but you must also think about the best methods to reach your internal audience. Are they on social media? Then perhaps an internal forum or social platform would be a good option. Does gamification seem to engage employees? Then it’s time to develop a game and bring out their competitive side. The classic philosophy that says the medium is the message holds true here, so be sure to think about how the delivery will reach the desired internal audience!

Watch language

languageHere, you simply have to consider what you would want. For important information, would you rather read generic corporate speak, or would you rather have the information presented to you like a fun, engaging conversation? This is especially important for an internal audience. They’re often busy and can easily ignore internal memos and messages. If you don’t make your communication intriguing, they are even more likely to pass on reading it, even though they could be missing important information! The easier the read, the more everyone benefits.

Give employees a way to measure effort

measurementEmployees can’t be enticed to drive results if they don’t know where their own company stands. They need insight into market and customer behavior to develop a drive to perform better than the competition. For example, if they see their own company is closely trailing a competitor, it puts it into perspective for them as to how much harder they have to work to pass the other company. On the other hand, if they’re blindly working toward a generic “let’s drive results” goal, then the exact target is unclear and motivation then suffers. So, in your communications strategy, you should include company standings and current goals, along with competitor details, as well.

 
At GO2 Advertising, we understand that your company’s internal challenges are distinct. So what we can do is match your specific needs with our tailored capabilities and determine your goals that will ultimately shape our strategy for an effective and engaging internal education plan.

Sources:
Harvard Business Review — Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively

The Importance of Internal Communication

Communication is the heart of any organization. More than presenting products and services, it’s how a business shares its voice, its brand and its story with the world. Significant time, thought and money is invested in external communication, influencing public perception and controlling public voice, but what is frequently overlooked or sidelined is internal communication, even though it is just as important.

Internal communication encompasses everything from functional items like official processes, guidelines and procedures — getting employees the information they need to do their jobs — to inspirational items like mission statements, company values, and voice guidelines — getting employees the information they need to participate as part of the team.

It is important that organizations foster an atmosphere of openness and create systems that will lead to the free and effective flow of information, ideas, various resources and even feelings to promote a sense of shared purpose. An excellent internal communication strategy can unite and inspire members at all levels of an organization. This comes with many advantages, such as employees who are:

 

pro

  • Informed – Having complete, timely information makes everyone more effective and efficient.
  • Confident – Knowledge is power, and being properly informed will empower employees to succeed.
  • Inspired – When all members of an organization understand and believe in the mission and values, they are inspired to do better and work harder.
  • Team players – Giving people at all levels and from all departments access to the same information encourages teamwork.
  • Sharing a common vision – Feeling like you and your colleagues are working toward a common goal leads to greater investment in and fulfillment from the work you do.
  • On message – Organizations should have a unified voice and message that they present to the public. This message will be much more effective and powerful if every employee is trained to use it and inspired to be an advocate.
  • Supported – Employees will be able to work with confidence and creativity if they trust that their colleagues — especially their superiors — believe in them and support their decisions.
  • Given useful feedback – Providing feedback is an important aspect of internal communications because the ability to improve and adapt — both as individuals and as a company — is vital to growth.
  • Respected and respectful – Having care and consideration for how you communicate with fellow employees is an excellent way to show respect and gain respect in turn.
  • Willing to take ownership – The more an employee understands about their company, the more they feel inspired and encouraged to take ownership of its growth and success.
  • Responsive to change – Change on an organizational level can be hard. Investing resources to make sure everyone is aware and buys into the need for change will help smooth the process.

Left to chance, internal communication becomes irregular and inconsistent. The consequences of neglecting these efforts have debilitating effects, including:

 

con

  • Gossip and speculation – Just because communication is not managed doesn’t mean it will not happen. People will fill in the blanks for themselves, often with worst-case scenarios, which leads to…
  • Stress and fear – Even small changes in routine can cause stress if employees don’t understand why they happen. Or worse, if the change comes as a complete surprise. Large changes that aren’t communicated properly can easily lead to job insecurity.
  • Territorialism – If information is rationed out in meager portions, people are much more likely to guard their share.
  • Confusion – If a message is delivered inconsistently among employees or departments, the results can be chaotic with everyone working toward different goals with different expectations.
  • Ineffectiveness – Members who don’t believe in the mission of an organization will be unlikely to see it through, just as employees who don’t understand the goal of a project will be unable to adequately complete it.
  • Inefficiency – If a team begins a project without having all the information they need, time is wasted and trust is squandered.
  • Lack of ownership – Having incomplete information cripples one’s ability to take ownership both of individual projects and of the mission of a company as a whole.
  • Off-message members – If members of an organization do not understand its voice and are not trained to use it, the message they present to the public will be confusing and ineffective.
  • Isolation – People work better as part of a team, but if communication is poor between departments and individuals, teamwork will be hindered and suspicions and resentment could develop.
  • Resistance to change – Did I mention that change can be hard? New work processes, company reorganizations, rebranding, new software implementations. All these things and more are a normal part of an evolving business, but if proper investment isn’t made in communicating these things to employees, the results can be chaotic and even catastrophic.

Here at GO2, we understand the importance of internal communication, and it’s one of our goals to help clients improve theirs. As an example, we recently created a comprehensive Intranet site for Comcast Business sales representatives. Housing an asset management and search tool, educational materials, product and customer strategies and an offer lookup tool, the Intranet, dubbed Nucleus, provides one solid place for crucial information. We performed research to determine everything for the site — environmental context, user personas, task and process flow, site organization and user interface. And we didn’t stop there. We were sure to include training tactics and engagement elements, including plans for pre-launch, launch and post-launch.

Taking it a step further, GO2 created a site called VITL for Sherwin-Williams. We created VITL for representatives who rely entirely on iPhones, iPads or laptops as they work remotely. The site houses sell sheets and data sheets, which representatives need to access on a daily basis. Before VITL, these sheets were scattered across various Sherwin-Williams sites, and now the representatives can access them in one location in less than three clicks.

As you can see, internal communication strategies, especially within a large organization, have many aspects and can become pretty complex. GO2 can help bring order to chaos, getting employees the information they need in a way that’s understandable, inspirational and supportive of your organization’s mission.