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Message and Medium Matter
This post by Trish McFarlane reminded of this piece I wrote a couple of years ago. I liked it back then, and still like it today. Maybe you will too!
One of the more irritating things about living in an apartment complex are the constant attempts at outreach by merchants in the surrounding area. These business owners rightly view our apartment community as a concentrated mecca of potential business, and they use printed media to let us know they are out there. Unfortunately, the message is rarely delivered effectively because of the medium.
There are probably about 20 pizza places and a half dozen places to get Chinese carryout within a two mile radius of where I live. I swear they all send me a handbill or a coupon every week. Here’s the bad news: I never look at them. They get stuck on my windshield, in my door, in my mailbox, but I never read them or use them. They are just hand delivered trash as far as I am concerned. feel exactly the same way whenever I receive a new copy of any of the many “Yellow Pages” phone directories that regularly get delivered to my apartment complex. Enough already!
I am not receiving the message because the medium doesn’t work for me. Put a coupon on my Facebook page and I might notice it. Put in on my car, and it goes in the trash at the Hess station or Dunkin Donuts when I stop to get my coffee. I don’t want to look for what they are trying to sell in these books. I don’t want the damn books either!
The Yellow Pages
I know that all the different publications that get delivered to my stoop are not supposed to be referred to as “the Yellow Pages”, but I am going to do it anyway. So whether your book is printed by some very distant kin to Ma Bell herself or comes to me via a printer from China doesn’t really matter. I don’t look at any of them.
Listen to this advertisers: I get the book. I pick it up. I throw it in the trash. I get extra pissed because the area where I live doesn’t offer any sort of convenient recycling.
People paid to have their ads run. People paid to get those book delivered. Sometimes the books make it all the way to my front door. Sometimes, they get dumped by the communal mail area. No matter where I get them from, all of mine wind up in the trash.
Why? Because somebody somewhere came up with the idea to send me something I didn’t want or need.
I will concede that some people, perhaps even many, use these books to find services or shops that they wouldn’t have found otherwise. So there may yet be a place in the universe for books that will let you “Let you fingers do the walking”. If there wasn’t some utilization, I doubt whether people would pay to advertise in these books, the companies who sell the ads wouldn’t print them, and the dudes who dump the damn things on my steps wouldn’t get paid to do so. All that is great, but… I. Don’t. Read. Your. Damn. Books!
You are sending me something I don’t need or want.
Lots of Human Resources departments are just like the Yellow Pages
I think that HR has allowed itself to become like the yellow pages. Somebody somewhere thinks they are making a good project or providing a valuable service. The companies they work for pay them to do this. People still get paid to make sure the the product or service is placed in the hands of the organizational customers.
And when they get, the customer isn’t exactly sure where it came from, why they needed it in the first place, or what they exactly they are supposed to do with it. If they act like me when I get a advertisement on my windshield, they look for the closest, most convenient trash receptacle, dump the unwanted item without really giving it much attention, and move on.
Is this happening to you? Probably!
Give the Customer what they want! (most of the time)
So here are some ways for HR peeps to start fixing their departments if they are broken like this.
- Give your customers what they want more often than giving them what you think they need!
- Tell them what you are giving them.
- Tell them why.
- Tell them what they are supposed to do with it.
- Explain the freakin’ value proposition! They need to know “WITFM”? (What’s in this for me?)
- Review your customer communication channels. Check to see if messages are getting through.
- Check the trash for discards and figure out why that happened in order to fix it.
Now, go get some stuff done!