No-one likes to feel unimportant, or forgettable. Even if you make all of the right moves and gestures, sometimes it’s the little things that can trip you up the most: like telling the same anecdote twice, or forgetting someone’s birthday. That’s also true in marketing.
Just like your favorite television series, it can be disorienting when the narrative that you’re following with a brand stops making sense. It might seem like a snub to loyal viewers who’ve stuck with the series long enough to remember previous storylines. Meanwhile, these are exactly the fans who deserve to be rewarded the most for their investment–and it would be a shame to lose the followers who actually care enough to pay attention.
So before you drop the thread, even by accident, such as during employee transitions or after there’s been a lapse in communications for awhile, it’s important to consider quality control processes that might allow you to maintain continuity with your communications.
The best way to look like you’ve got your act together is by tracking conversations between your company and external audiences, in their myriad forms. Below are a few examples of when and how to manage consistency and continuity in various areas of your business.
Continuity with Clients
Maybe you haven’t heard from a past client in a year or two. It’s possible that their account has changed hands while your managers have taken on new duties. Or, perhaps there are prospects you’ve been in conversation with, only to put the idea of a project on hold. When you pick things back up, you don’t want to start back at the beginning–or make them feel like your internal transitions are burdens that they’ll have to bear. Instead, before taking up the thread again, review your inbox for former conversations with anyone from the company. See what intel and collateral you collected during early consultations. Even if you begin the new discourse by asking what needs to be updated, at least it will show that you’re on the ball and value their past investment in your company, as well as their time now.
Continuity with Audiences
Audiences pay more attention than many marketers give them credit for–but you don’t want to be one of those marketers. As we’ve noticed, and research has shown, audiences are getting smarter. They also value transparency from brands above all else. So there’s nothing they’ll dislike more than a brand that seems inauthentic because it can’t keep its own story straight. For example, you don’t want to say that a sale is rare if your audience knows that you do the same sale twice per year. Or, if your terms and conditions change frequently, you’re simply going to lose them over time–because no-one wants to suddenly learn they don’t get free returns on their purchases anymore, after years of claiming it as one of your big perks.
Continuity with Campaigns
When you’re running a campaign for a certain brand, you want it to be consistent across all channels. If someone is on a website and then requests a brochure, you want those pieces to look like they have the same voice and vision behind them. And while campaigns necessarily change from one to the next, to keep things fresh, you want to have some concept of what you’ve done in the past so that each one doesn’t seem to come out of the blue, as if its tone and strategy were devised for totally different companies, by totally different creative teams, each and every time. While different, there should be a semblance of siblinghood that draws a distinct line between all of your customer-facing communications over time–unless or until your company gets a major makeover that you’ll want reflected in its totality in a new direction within all forthcoming campaigns. Otherwise, when your campaigns look like they’re of a piece, the people experiencing them will feel like they’re part of your zeitgeist, too.
Just think of it as that warm feeling you experience when you’re shopping online and realize that the website already has your account information stored, making it easy for you to check out in just a few clicks. That recognition and reward is the same feeling that people get from conversational continuity in marketing channels.