None of This Is About You, Really

Communicating a benefit to someone’s life in a memorable, compelling way is the clearest path to establishing, forging, or reinforcing those emotional bonds, and it should be the basis for everything we do.  It’s the difference between audience-based and market-based communications. It really isn’t about what you do, it’s how what you do impacts the lives of the people we serve with our mission.

There’s a reason why market-driven strategies often feel stale and fall flat: We know our markets – they’re crowded and competitive for everyone across campus. And our audiences aren’t dumb – they know the markets too. The collective noise those markets generate, inundating people thousands of times a day with all kinds of market-based messaging, is deafening.

People long ago learned to tune out, because they recognize the same old way of marketing, advertising, communicating. It’s the basis of information overload.

Here’s the only question ALL of our audiences are asking themselves: “Why should I CARE?”

If your communications aren’t being driven first and foremost by this question, you’re chasing people with the hopes that they notice. No amount of data or lists of features, capabilities and services is going to provide your administrators and supervisors with what they so desperately want: An appreciation from the audiences you serve of how vital and valuable their operations are.

Stay focused on your audience, not on yourself.

Jim Harrison is UF’s Creative Director in the Office of University Relations.