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The heart of the matter

the heart of the matter

Authored by: Jordan Buning, ddm president 

ddm’s content team leader suggested I share a leadership retrospective of 2020. Pretty easy request. I could do this in my sleep. Until I didn’t. How in the heck do you summarize the year it’s been and offer compelling, perhaps inspirational, prose? I was hoping a quick headline would come to mind. Everyone would rally around it and cheer the genius of a few well-chosen words. And yet, nothing tumbled from my brain to my fingers and onto the keyboard.

The easy corporate answer would be to explain the swift technological shift to digital platforms that offered a combination of convenience, safety, and efficiency. That would be true. Many technological tools that our company has used ourselves or implemented for our clients have enabled us to soldier on – even excel – while we’ve been apart from each other. 

That last part is really the story of the year. We’ve been separated and a variety of tools have helped bridge the physical gap that’s necessary for now. However, technology hasn’t replaced humanity. And it won’t. We respond to emotional cues as much or more so than data and logic. We are creatures of community and relationships. Living and operating with more distance has only reinforced the importance of finding your voice when communicating.

The thing we all value is a sense of connection and belonging. We want to feel empathy and compassion. Community matters. In many ways, this time apart has been a reminder to go back to the fundamentals. Regardless of how large of an audience you’re trying to reach, at the other end is an individual waiting for you to connect.

When it comes to marketing, this era has been a great reminder that we’re not just speaking to volumes of people groups (internal vs. external) or profiles. Marketers can help the C-suite and other areas of their organization by acting as a lighthouse for the consumer. 

Whether you’re selling consumer goods, capital equipment, or providing guidance that impacts social norms, there are questions that should filter what you say and how you say it:

  1. Do you understand the environment and circumstances of the people you want to reach?
  2. Are you trying to create fear or instill shame – or are you using constructive emotions like pride, hope, and love to get people to act?
  3. Are you transparent in your motives?
  4. Are you clear or abstract? (Hint: clear is kind)
  5. Do you have concrete information or data in support of your message?
  6. Are you respecting individual values and worldviews?
  7. Is your message trustworthy?
  8. Are you being fair?
  9. Should someone trust what you’re saying and doing?
  10. How would you feel if you heard this message?

There are many important things your organization is trying to accomplish. The job of good marketing and communications is to make sure it gets delivered to someone who wants to respond on the other end. Maybe 2020 has reminded us that’s what matters.

P.S. If you got stuck on the Don Henley song headline, you’re not alone. Go check out the lyrics