“Man, 39, is looking for a girlfriend to share joys and sorrows with. I am sporty, I have humor and I like good food with a good glass of wine and a nice conversation. “
What’s wrong with this ad? It conveys what the advertiser in question thinks the partner of his dreams wants to read and therefore hardly shows what kind of person he really is. The keywords with which that happens – like sporty, humor, good glass of wine … – are so generic that it will be almost impossible to get the correct image for the advertisement. If someone responds, it will be out of curiosity rather than a convincing feeling that this is really the one. The chance of a good “match” has been significantly reduced.
Suppose the person had written the following about himself: “Because I believe in a healthy mind in a healthy body, I lift weights and study philosophy (the 19th century, John Stuart Mill is a particular favorite). I am a fan of Seinfeld, I love red Bordeaux and prefer to walk through the woods early in the morning.” Now a more concrete picture of the person in question emerges – because generic terms such as ‘sporty’ and ‘humor’ are made specific. This makes the unicity of the sender more visible and increases the chance that the ad will catch on with the right potential life partner.
Personals ads in business…
Unfortunately, a lot of business communication gets stuck at the level of a personals ad. All too often, a connection is made with fashionable and generic terminology that sounds good, but says little about the organization. And that is often a lost opportunity, because every organization is unique. And that unicity appeals to certain types of leaders, employees and customers.
To test it, I invite you to study the job advertisements in any medium. See how often you come across generic terms that are not made specific: good communication skills, open, professional. These terms mean something different in different organizations and in different situations. For example, the term ‘academic level of thinking’ is charged differently for a scientific research institute than for a company that markets consumer products. “Open” means a different kind of informality for an advertising agency than for an asset manager at a merchant bank. The disadvantage of the use of generic terms is that they lead to “hail shooting” and a waste of time, money and attention.
Convincing communication, internal and external, is always authentic. Do you want to convince by communicating in the way you think it appeals to your target group? If you organization has encounters success and there is a lot of positive things to say, then that is of course no problem. But organizations struggle with numerous issues, events and plans that do not go (completely) according to plan, but about which clarity is desired. Especially internally. “What are we really doing in the field of sustainability?” “Why is there still no clarity about our reorganization?” “How do we deal with these unexpected setbacks?”
These are all questions to which certain – internal and external – target groups – would like a clear answer. But what if that answer is not (yet) there? Or if arriving at a solution is even more difficult than expected?
Attractive and credible
Responsive organizations usually have little trouble with authentic communication. They face the facts, act on them, and rely on their own strength. By consistently and clearly showing who they are, they avoid the communication dilemma. Their message is genuine, natural and powerful. And it automatically becomes attractive and credible for the target group. That strengthens the bond and reputation with their target groups. Especially when there is not only good news to report.