How many times do you need to hear a message before it really sinks in? At one point or another, and particularly when we’re trying to engage in topics out of our norm or experience, we’ve all suffered from thick-head syndrome.
Good communications theory has always stressed the need for multiple message platforms and styles. It’s no secret, we learn differently, receive messages differently, and need time to process and consider content before we let it “click”.
Some suggest it takes 7-8 times to get a message through. Advertising gurus have long preached the “Gospel of 3” and marketers well know the importance of considering your message reach and frequency when working to engage people. And even in the realm of social media message frequency matters (think Facebook, Twitter, and more). (In fact, in social settings, some suggest that fans are, by nature of being fans, more apt to welcome multiple messages from an organization or brand.)
In a cluttered and increasingly noisy message landscape, the importance of providing your key messages to your community multiple times is even more significant. Think about your own message focus, when someone is talking to you and with you are you thinking about other things? Checking your email? Receiving text messages? Tweeting? Updating your status? Keeping an eye on the score of the game? Probably, right? Right. (And probably right now, even as you read this post.)
Whether you’re sharing an important keynote, webinar or workshop, or a Sunday sermon, the point here is that we out hard work into crafting and delivering our messages, and this work may be moot if we don’t give strategic thought to how we intend to follow-up on, continue to engage, and keep the message fresh for the community until it really sinks in.
Here are a few ideas, specifically for those of you working in organization where significant messages are often delivered by a key speaker one or more times throughout the week.
The Weekly (e)Newsletter
Pertinent, brief, graphically clean and concise, the weekly or bi-weekly newsletter has a new life thanks to email and even blog platforms. There’s a whole new way to interact. With engaged communities who are vested in your messages, the opportunity to connect via email is useful. Use it wisely. Keep it simple. Brevity is the goal. Use an easy email client like Mail Chimp to manage your lists and design clean, attractive emails that make an impression.
If you are in a ministry or social service setting and have an important message to provide in a talk, sermon, presentation, or lecture, reinforce that content by providing your community something tangible to take home. It might be as simple as a list of links to check out, but I think it’s better if it’s something that puts “content in hand.” Bullets, a brochure connected specifically to your content (and ideally that you referenced in your initial talk), a “value-add” piece that provides content beyond your talk, etc. These are all useful take-aways that can be inexpensively produced and distributed so that your message, literally, walks out the door with your community.
Get Social, Get Digital
I’m a big one for saying “just cause you can, doesn’t mean you should” and so I am not advocating social media because it’s “cool”, but because it works especially when you select tactics that are meaningful for your audience. (For those in a church setting, check out this great post from Kevin Ring on the blog, KingdomStrategist about how to sort through your organization’s decision to engage a social strategy.) Perhaps you follow-up your message later in the week with a short video recap shared via YouTube. Maybe you have captured mobile numbers and you share a brief text with your community a few times through the week to remind them about your message. Is your community on Facebook? Share links that tie to your content and engage them in some fun dialogue about the main points you communicated. Get creative, have some fun, and consider, what would YOU want to receive from a source that mattered to you?
It’s important to say at this point that you need to select tactics that are manageable and realistic for you, your time constraints, your expertise (or that of your staff or volunteer base), and the interest of your community. Again, just because everyone is using Twitter (or so it seems) doesn’t mean it’s the best choice (yet!) for your community, but it’s probably at least worth thinking it through.
This is an easy solution and often the most overlooked in the face of emerging Web and social tactics that are – quite frankly – just more flashy and fun. Focusing your message frequency strategy on some good old fashioned internal communications work is just smart. Here’s what that might look like:
After a major message has been communicated, how are you internal leaders incorporating the themes of your content into their communication with their networks within your organization? Are you providing them with bullet points to share in their meetings throughout the week? Perhaps a thought or two to include on each agenda that they develop, or to communicate in their own words in their own social networks (both on and off line)? For those in a ministry setting specifically, how many people during the week do your core leaders engage with in other meetings? Consider how your main message could be amplified all week long in these settings!
In the end, it’s about taking just a bit of time to think strategically about how you’re reaching your community. Often, we focus so much energy on the ONE big event, campaign, message, publicity moment, or activity that we miss the opportunity to easily and simple tentacle the message into other settings within the organization. If your message is one that your community just can’t live without; one that you as a leader invested significant time in developing and communicating, make sure you put the right amount of time into making sure it sticks.