by D&E Staff

August 23, 2017

I’d like to begin a conversation with you. A conversation about change. About letting go of the past. About how we as communications professionals can communicate better with our collective audiences. About looking to the future.

You may be asking why I want to have this conversation. I believe in possibilities and finding new ways to work and communicate. I believe in developing new ideas and putting them into action. Trying. Testing. Failing. Learning. Growing!

I believe we can’t continue to work and communicate as we have for the last 20-30 years. Consumer and customer communication behaviors have changed in profound ways, but business communications have struggled to keep up with the trends.

Let’s go back in time for a moment and consider some of these trends.

  • Could you have imagined 15 years ago that people would be posting 500 million, 140-character tweets per day?1
  • That Facebook would grow to a $500 billion market cap?2
  • That over 3 billion people would be active on social media globally in 2017?3
  • That Google would grow to handle over 2 trillion searches annually?4

While many of us likely couldn’t have imagined these trends back then, we also don’t know today what the future holds for markets, or have a clear sense of how communication behaviors will continue to evolve.

Here’s what we do know: To remain competitive and relevant, we must transform our business communications by adapting to current audience behaviors and taking advantage of shifts in the market.

Given the astonishing growth of digital communications, it’s safe to assume there will be a continued emphasis on engaging through digital screens, along with further shifts in marketing/communications dollars to digital investments. Whether mobile, social, or otherwise, consumers – both B2C and B2B – are spending more time using digital sources to research, shop for and buy products and services. This trend is showing no sign of slowing down.

We must accelerate our transformation to digital communications. That’s the only way we can keep up with our customers and prospects who want to communicate with us through digital channels. We must let go of past communication models and think about our audiences and communications in a new light. We must put our audiences at the center of our communications strategies.

In a traditional business communications model, the organization is at the center and tells its story with an outbound, largely one-direction perspective. In the new model, our audiences are at the center, and communication is two-way (see graphic below).

Today’s audiences have more control and access to information than ever. By putting audiences at the center, we can create and deliver compelling digital communications that cater to their behaviors.

For example, today’s B2B buyer largely uses digital sources to research, evaluate and select products and services. In the old model, the buyer would often rely on suppliers to push their product and service information out to the markets. In the new model, with information so readily available, customers can find for themselves whatever they need – and that’s exactly what they do.

It’s our job to make that information available and accessible in as many forms as needed to fit with buyers’ needs, whether we’re trying to reach teenagers making college choices or engineers considering a new valve fitting for a machine. Business communications, no matter the type, must undergo further digital transformation to meet audience expectations.

It’s time to think differently about how we develop and deliver business communications. This isn’t likely to be easy, but it’s worth the investment. Your business success may be riding on getting this right. Let’s work together to let go of past communication models and adopt new thinking. Let’s have a conversation and drive digital transformation across business communications.

This is the first of several blog posts I’ll be writing about digital communications topics over the coming months – the start of a conversation. In the meantime, if you’re curious to learn more about shifting your communications strategy and accelerating digital transformation, drop me a line and let’s jump-start the conversation.