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Crafting Effective Communication Strategies: The Power of Simplicity

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Keep the message simple - KISS Method - stick note

In 1960, the US Navy introduced a design principle that stated most systems work best when kept simple rather than made complicated. Known by the acronym KISS, it translates to "keep it simple, stupid." This principle underlines the importance of effective communication strategies, especially in today's world.

After more than a year of mixed messages and missed messages on nearly everything from the pandemic to the failure of Texas' power grid, keeping your message simple proves best. Otherwise, what should be straightforward communication evolves into crisis communication, highlighting the need for effective crisis communication.

Healthcare topics, for instance, can be intricate, especially when filled with scientific and medical jargon. That makes it even more vital to keep messages simple, honest, and candid. This is where common marketing mistakes, like using overly technical language, can alienate the average reader. The average person might not grasp a "zoonotic spillover– animal-to-human pathogen transfer." But most understand, "A new deadly virus is infecting thousands and spreading rapidly. We need to take precautions now."

Common Marketing Mistakes: Lessons from the CDC

You don't have to look any further than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn what not to do with brand messaging. The old adage about being "clear as mud" rings true with the CDC's recent guideline changes. Leaving your audience puzzled doesn't resonate with the KISS principle or effective communication strategies.

Whether marketing your latest service or communicating updated COVID-19 guidelines, it's essential to avoid common marketing mistakes and ensure you keep your message simple across all channels.

The Key to Effective Communication Strategies: The Three "Rs" for Building Brand Trust

When crafting marketing messages, remember the three "Rs":

  • Relationship: The most crucial bond in your marketing funnel is with the patient. Messages to stakeholders are key to building strong connections.

  • Relevance: Ensure your content speaks directly to the present situation.

  • Read the Room: Brands that connect with their audience's current mood and needs build brand trust more effectively.

The messages you deliver to stakeholders are key to building strong connections. A good rule of thumb to follow when developing a message is to make sure it's simple enough that both your mother (or grandmother) and adolescent child understand it. Follow through on those messages, from media pitches to patient promises. Otherwise, you may end up on Twitter as an #epicfail.

By reading the room and empathizing with stakeholders, particularly at this tenuous moment, brands forge strong bonds with a simple message. Compare Krispy Kreme offering free donuts to vaccinated customers with proof of vaccination to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) warning customers to "unplug fancy appliances to conserve power" when millions throughout the state had no heat. Who read the room?

Express empathy in the message.

As we've noted before, after more than a year of the pandemic, people want to be seen and heard.

Speaking to audiences with compassion and addressing their needs starts first by getting outside your box. Listen carefully and put yourself in someone else's shoes to truly understand what they are saying. Developing empathetic messages starts internally. When employees feel marginalized, a culture of distrust likely spreads to external audiences as well.

Keep the message consistent.

Among the many takeaways from 2020 is that things can develop and change quickly or seemingly suddenly. Likewise, messages may change over time. However, try to confirm as many facts as possible before pushing out a message, whether it's a statement to the media or a new tagline. Keep your message consistent to maintain brand credibility.

With the CDC's murky guidelines, the agency basically passed the buck onto the public to do the right thing. Yet, an Axios poll shows that most of us trust our family and close friends. Beyond that, only 38% of the respondents say they trust anyone outside their circle.

Inconsistency leaves your audience with more questions than answers, so they may turn to alternative and unreliable sources for guidance. Interestingly, about two-thirds of the anti-vaccination content on social media sites comes from only 12 different sources.

From February 1–March 16, 2021, content from these anti-vaxxers, who range from politicians to former bodybuilders, was shared or posted more than 800,000 times on Facebook and Twitter. Their messages remained consistent, while government agencies and mainstream medical professionals struggled to discredit them because their own messages were often inconsistent and disjointed.

To keep your ship afloat and sailing smoothly, even through rough waters, remember to "keep it simple, stupid."

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