Have you ever known someone who talks too much? Perhaps it’s a colleague or vendor. You probably go out of your way to avoid them. Maybe you prefer to communicate with them via email, rather than talk on the phone.
Personally I hate phone calls altogether. People call me insensitive when they hear me say that, but I find phone calls to be intrusive, inconvenient, and usually quite inefficient. The worst is when I ask someone a question via email, and they call me to talk about it. Or the sales person who calls every day to follow up with the email I sent him. If he had a clue, he’d realize I’d respond to him within minutes if he’d just break away from his sales script and email me back.
Communications is all about building healthy relationships. Being an effective communicator who values the relationship between the audience and your brand includes not only knowing who your target is, but also how they want to be communicated to and how often.
In a healthy relationship, you not only have to learn when to listen and when to talk, but you also have to know how often and which platform to use depending on your audience’s behaviors and expectations. If you’re doing too much talking and no listening, you lose. If you’re only communicating on one channel, when your audience prefers another, you lose.
The problem is not everyone within your target audience is going to be the same. While I hate phone calls, there’s always the person who will feel that your constant emails are not as caring as a phone call.
The best way to combat this dilemma is to just ask your audience what they want and then give them options. After ten years of marriage, I’ve learned that I may never fully understand my wife and her needs, but one of the best ways I can show her I care is to just ask her what she needs and how I can help.
Don’t underestimate the power of data either. The beauty of digital communications is you can easily track your audience’s behavior. You’ll know when your content is bad or when you’re posting too much on social media, because people will stop following you. You’ll know when you’re sending too many emails, because people will stop opening them. This is all trackable. And these days, there are a million different ways to test and analyze your audience’s behavior so you can adjust accordingly.
Make a List
A great place to start is to make a list of all of your channels and the communications coming out of your church so you know what you have to work with.
It’s not uncommon for a church to get to a point where there are five or six emails being sent per week to each individual, and you may not even realize it. Think about the dad who has three kids in three different age groups. He’s also involved in men’s ministry and attends a small group each week. That’s five emails right there, on top of the main church newsletter. Information overload! If you look at your email data, you’ll probably find he doesn’t open these emails any longer, or maybe he opens certain ones and not the others.
Combine or Eliminate
Use this data to serve him better. You’ll probably find you can combine some emails, deliver some less frequently, and maybe even eliminate others altogether. The data will show you where you’re vulnerable and where you can improve. Then you can go to your audience with options and let them choose.
In the end, what’s too much for you may be too little for someone else. Or it may be the right info, just delivered the wrong way. Communications requires constant analysis and revision to be effective.