In a traditional world, you created a product or service and then you communicated about that product or service. 

But in a digital economy that is focused on simplicity and ease-of-use, it is the product and service that does the communication.

When you arrive at the Google homepage, it communicates to you: “I am a search engine. Place words in the text box and I’ll help you find stuff.” 

When Google adds a new feature to its maps, it doesn’t communicate to you in some text description ‘press release’ that it has added this new feature. Rather, it communicates to you the next time you use maps. You see this extra thing you can do, and you decide whether you want to do it or not.

Traditional communication has often been used to cover up or compensate for poor design earlier on in the process. Often, technical manuals, for example, are a description of workarounds, an attempt to make buggy, complicated software more usable.

Traditional communications is often based on the principle that you need to do some preliminary reading before you can use or understand the thing. But that presupposes a different world. 

It presupposes that people are willing to read descriptions, introductions and backgrounds. It presupposes that people are willing to listen to and accept justifications. It presupposes that people are willing to do training just to be able to use the thing. It presupposes that people will accept really poor customer experiences when it comes to using something.

Learning Opportunities

That is the old, dying world of traditional communications, and the quicker it dies the better. Today, if you have to tell someone something is easy, then clearly it is not. If it was actually easy, as you state in your flowery, gushy language, then you wouldn’t have to use flowery, gushy language. It would be, instead, just like Google. The moment you looked at it, you’d know exactly what to do. That’s easy.

These days, whenever you have to talk about the organization, you’ve lost the conversation. People don’t care that you are “delighted” to announce the launch of whatever. They want to get straight to the product or service or whatever it is that you have that might be of use to them. 

When we observe customers we invariably see that traditional marketing and communication is not helping, but rather disrupting their journey. This marketing content clogs up the arteries. We find that when it’s removed, sales go up, customer satisfaction goes up, all the positive metrics go up.

So why, if so much of this marketing and communications content is not just unproductive, but counter-productive, do organizations keep churning it out by the truckload? Because in old-model organizations we have major departments focused on traditional marketing and communication. They churn stuff out because that’s what they do to justify their existence. They’ve never really been measured based on value, but rather based on how much they can churn out, so obviously they’re very focused on churning stuff out.

These are not the careers of the future. The future lies in you being part of the product / service itself. Focus on the content that is integral to making the product or service itself easy to use. And do you know what that often means from a content point of view? Creating clear menus and links.

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