One factor marketers can be certain of this year is continued uncertainty. From inflation at a 40-year high to continued layoffs and slowed growth, macroeconomic and market volatility continue to disrupt operations—leaving marketers racing to build efficiency and resilience.
One essential factor is hindering their ability to meet these goals: poor communication.
Effective and consistent communication is pivotal to ensure continuity and instill confidence among employees, customers, and stakeholders.
But communication is often overlooked as an area of investment. Just how much does bad communication costs US businesses? Up to $1.2 trillion every single year in lost productivity. That's approximately $12,506 per employee.
Poor-communication costs have an outsized impact on marketing, where results depend on clear and consistent content and interactions. Marketing organizations that don't communicate well don't perform well—from creating a disjointed brand image, to eroding customer and prospect engagement, to slowing productivity and growth.
First, we'll look at two important ways improving communication will help marketers overcome their toughest challenges this year—and reach new levels of performance. Then, we'll look at five ways to improve organizational communication.
Delivering Frictionless, Authentic Brand and customer experiences
As prices rise faster than wages, marketers need to deliver frictionless, authentic experiences to win customers' loyalty and wallets.
Because of ongoing inflation and fluctuations in buying habits, customers and buyers—not surprisingly—expect more from brand experiences to make purchase decisions. Audiences are also engaging more on intimate channels such as text and social, increasing the need for organic interactions.
Heightened consumer and buyer demands will come to a head this year, forcing brands to double-down on creating more natural and compelling connections.
But that feels like an insurmountable challenge: Scale across an ever-expanding number of touchpoints, build deeper engagement across all touchpoints, and do it all in the face of budget and resource constraints.
Brands that identify scalable ways to build more authentic communication will get interactions right the first time, in turn reducing costs and driving growth.
Lifting Productivity and Consistency With a New Workplace Experience
The realities of a global and fragmented workplace have brought new challenges for marketing teams in staying aligned, engaged, and on-brand.
Working across more ways and places creates more opportunities for disjointed interactions that slow down and frustrate employees and customers. In such an environment, it's no wonder that productivity recently reached a historic decline and workplace connections are dwindling.
The problem is that the evolution in how work gets done requires fundamentally rethinking where and how we work—but too few have actually done that rethinking.
Especially with the increase in asynchronous and written communication spurred by flexible work, knowing how and where to best interact with colleagues and customers is exceedingly challenging. The result is inefficient, inconsistent interactions that marketers must address to eliminate costly friction, maintain their brand image, and improve employee and customer experiences.
Leaders who empower teams to communicate clearly and consistently wherever and however they work will ensure that productivity and engagement climb.
Rise to New Challenges With Effective Communication
Most marketers recognize the value of communication, but they often view it as a "soft" skill or an area they cannot improve through dedicated investment.
Fully 74% of executives value professionally written business communications (i.e., clear, concise, and tone-aware), but most of them (54%) have not taken action to operationalize improvements, according to recent IDC research* commissioned by Grammarly.
To improve organizational communication, marketing leaders should consider the following five steps.
1. Define objectives and outcomes
Consider what business outcomes are most critical, as well as what ways ineffective communication affects them. For example, are slow or off-brand customer interactions lowering retention? Is the volume of communications becoming unsustainable and slowing growth?
By assessing all of the impacts and consequences, marketing leaders can uncover what unique pain points they need to address and where to focus their attention.
2. Rethink and set clear expectations
The growing number of places where work is happening makes it challenging to collaborate effectively—and all the back-and-forth creates rework and overwhelms teams.
Address that issue and eliminate ambiguity by setting clear expectations around not only what channels to use but also when and how to communicate—accounting for factors such as tone, format, and frequency.
3. Empower and align diverse teams
A more dispersed and global workforce brings useful new perspectives—but heightens the need for alignment.
Empower teams with a shared understanding of brand language, preferences, and guidelines to reduce miscommunications and maintain a consistent front. Providing seamless ways to adhere to company language and voice will drive consistency—and help quickly bring new employees into the fold.
4. Take a scalable approach to upskilling
Amid labor, budget, and resource constraints, upskilling and reskilling employees is critical for ensuring a high-performing workforce and for supporting and retaining employees.
By 2025, "labor volatility" will cause 40% of organizations to report a material business loss, forcing a shift in talent strategy from acquisition to resilience, Gartner predicts. As resource-heavy methods become unsustainable, giving employees scalable ways to improve their own communication can boost their confidence and skills while alleviating the burden on managers.
5. Curate investments with a focus on augmentation
Technology plays an essential role in communicating effectively, but the IDC research shows that more than half (56%) of organizations are also concerned they have too many tools.
Harnessing AI technologies that augment communication and help teams use the right terminology, style, and tone can be a first step toward improving connections without adding to digital overload. Instead of adopting net-new platforms and channels, focus on solutions that integrate into existing systems to enhance communications wherever they're working.
* * *
It's time for marketers to reinvent their organizations—and that starts with effective communication. Communicating clearly and consistently reduces costly slowdowns, enhances the customer experience, and drives the ability to scale.
Re-envisioning communication to connect, engage, and get work done in new ways will be the greatest determinant of success in a changing landscape.
*IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Grammarly, "Workplace Experiences of the Digital-First Enterprise," IDC Doc. #US49892622, December 2022
More Resources on How to Overcome Poor Communication
Alan Alda's Book on Empathy and Communication Holds Valuable Insights for Marketers
Workplace Communication Trends for 2022 [Infographic]
Communicate Like a Founding Father: Three Simple Lessons From the Declaration of Independence
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