What I learnt from Advertising about communication

I spent a few years of my career in the advertising industry, working on brands in chocolate, food & beverage categories. It was there that I started giving serious thought to what constitutes effective communication. Every piece of communication from every brand is like a person trying to gain attention of a mildly interested consumer, and more often, a disinterested consumer . Not very different from how most real life communication is – whether you are trying to engage a prospective life partner, a client who is listening to or reading a document that you sent them, or a stranger you met at a conference. So learnings from marketing communication give us useful pointers to interpersonal communication, speaking to a small group or speaking to a large audience.

Here are 5 principles that I found useful in advertising as well as in communication in real life. These principles are intended to refine the way you communicate rather than take away your personality from your conversation style (Mentza will soon release “Mentza Echo” a proprietary AI powered tool to gain insights about your conversational style)

  1. Audience First: The primary objective of communication is to get the point across to your audience, whether it is one person, or a group of people. So understanding what would interest them, and steering conversations towards areas of their interest would likely give you an engaged audience. If you know whom you are meeting in advance, then you could check out their social media handles to understand what they follow & show interest in. Otherwise, a simple technique is to ask what they do on weekends and free time
  2. Keep it simple: Advertising recognizes that people have limited bandwidth to process information and try to convey the key brand message in a few words and in a few seconds. Because people will not spend time and energy trying make sense of something complex, unless they are highly motivated to know about it. People do crosswords and Wordle because it challenges their intelligence and smartness. But to pull that off in a conversation, you need to be an exceptionally good communicator. (In that case, our readers should be taking tips from you). The simple way to make your conversation simple is to avoid using jargons, difficult words, phrases not commonly understood, and staying to the point.
  3. Use storytelling to make the conversation memorable: Advertising often uses storytelling to engage the audience and create an emotional connection to the product or service being advertised. You can use storytelling in your conversations to make your points more memorable and engaging. There are a number of circles on Mentza that helps you get better at storytelling. Check out Uday Kiran’s channel #1minutestories

As Dale Carnegie, the American writer and author of many self improvements books including “How to Win Friends and Influence People” said

Your purpose is to make your audience see what you saw, hear what you heard, feel what you felt. Relevant detail, couched in concrete, colorful language, is the best way to recreate the incident as it happened and to picture it for the audience.

Dale Carnegie

  1. Pay attention to your tone of voice: Tone of voice of a brand in every communication determines how it relates to its audiences / consumers. being “tone aware” will let you observe how people respond differently to different communication tones
  2. And finally, advertising strives to keep brands authentic. It has to reflect its personality in all communication. Same is true for all communication. It is important to be yourself when you speak, because people only trust authentic people. And trust is the first step to an engaging conversation

Mentza has many circles on improving communication skills – starting from sessions on improving fluency to public speaking to storytelling and many others.

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