By Clare Jeffries
I started my career in marketing when email was new and I was the only person in my department to be connected to the internet. Faxing was still predominately used for signing off artwork and phone calls were the main way of speaking to your colleagues. The number of communication channels could be counted on one hand and it was easier to decide which channel to use to ‘market’ to your chosen audience. As I attended courses and built up my theoretical knowledge I began to feel worthy of calling myself a marketer.
But, whilst each single course and conference I attended, help me to gain more knowledge, the most important tool to me became the skill of clear communication. Luckily enough for me, this was something I could already do and it feels like pure luck that I stumbled up on a career that relies on good communication. I like to put it down to my early years’ training in drama (because it makes me sound fancy), but really I’ve always been able to communicate well.
So what is good communication and how does it help?
I’m sure if you tried you could create a communication model or theory that explains good communication, but for me it’s simple. Be yourself. Being genuine, nice and listening to other people’s needs has got me a long way in marketing. Don’t get bogged down by fancy words or frameworks and certainly don’t try and pretend to be something you’re not. When attending a meeting with a client or senior manager for the first time, make your main aim listening. By listening, you’ll give yourself time to evaluate the crux of the problem and weigh-up the kind of person you are listening to. Time spent gathering this essential information will stand you in good stead when you’re working together on a project. Often people confuse communication with having to speak or write something or using the latest communication channel, but good communication is just as much about listening and interpreting as it is about being proactive and innovative. It’s perfectly ok to leave a meeting promising to reflect on your discussions rather than feeling obliged to deliver a marketing campaign on the spot.
At the end of the day, marketing isn’t rocket science but it does need careful thought and consideration to make something a success. Being flexible, responsive and understanding people’s needs will get you a long way and it will most certainly get the job done.
No one is interested in knowing how much theory you know or what awards you’ve won. What people really need is for you to solve their problem for them. Be sympathetic, as though it’s the very first time someone has asked you to create them a flyer and do conduct yourself with humility and honesty. Be nice and the rest will take care of itself.
Of course, you must embrace new ways of communicating and evaluate each new channel for its merits and purpose, but at the end of day, if you continue to listen…you will go a long way.
Clare Jeffries is a Chartered Marketer currently specialising in health and social care marketing.