Meanings of Meaning


Meanings are internal responses people hold for external stimuli. Many times people have different meanings for the same words. Good communicators are people who select verbal and nonverbal signs that they feel will elicit the intending meaning. Marketing communicators must be especially careful to use signs that will evoke the intended meaning in prospective buyers. All too often companies communicate their product offerings in terms familiar to themselves but not in terms familiar to their potential customers.

Meaning can be thought of as the set of internal responses and resulting predispositions evoked within a person when presented with a sign or stimulus object. Meaning is internal rather than external, to an individual. Meaning is psychological in that it represents a person’s subjective perception and effective reaction to stimuli.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Managing for Customer Satisfaction


If you are working in a business that is focused and dedicated to customer satisfaction you cannot manage it in the same way as an ordinary or traditional business – it just doesn’t work. Organizations have found this to their cost. Implementing policies without changing the organization first is self-defeating. The organization will defeat change as soundly as day follows night. However, if you change the organization and the way people are managed and led and you have developed the policies, ideas, procedures, standards and systems will evolve rapidly and effectively.

The first major change has to be  the ritual burning and demolition of the standard organization chart. Customers, suppliers and employees cannot be forced to work through traditional top down hierarchical management systems. Not only does it give people the wrong feeling, it actually just doesn’t work. It’s not that it ever worked particularly well anyway, it was just the thing that everyone used when they put together a large organization.

Today’s manager has to be much more of a communicator than a dictator. They also have to be much more of a facilitator than a policy determinator. People’s aspirations have changed, just as the customers have. They need to be treated in a way that encourages them, empowers them and enthuses them to deliver the best for their customers.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Fear Appeals


Companies sometimes use fear appeals in attempting to motivate customers to action. The underlying logic when using fear appeals is that fear will stimulate audience involvement with a message and thereby promote acceptance of message arguments. The appeals may take the form of social disapproval or physical danger. For example, mouthwashes, deodorants, toothpastes, and other products make us aware of the social disapproval we may suffer if our breath is not fresh, if our underarms are not dry, or if our teeth are not white.

Aside from the basic ethical issue of whether fear should be used at all,  the fundamental issue for marketing communicators is determining how intense the fear presentation should be.

When using fear appeals, advertisers stand a greater chance of converting numerous of a product to its use than of convincing consumers to switch brands.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Adoption Process


The adoption process consists of the mental stages an individual goes through in accepting and becoming a repeat purchaser of an innovation. Marketing communicators play a role in accelerating the rate of new product adoption and thereby increasing the probability of product success. As firms have become more sophisticated marketers, the rate of adoption in consumer markets has increased.

Although consumers are accepting new products more readily than ever, there is still a high percentage of failure in the introduction of new products. Understanding the factors that facilitate or impede successful adoption is crucial to a full appreciation of the role of marketing communications and promotion management in modern marketing.

The adoption process consists of five stages: 1) knowledge, 2) persuasion, 3) decision, 4) implementation, and 5) confirmation. Each stage is necessary precondition to a subsequent stage. Various conditions and characteristics act to increase or retard the innovation-decision process. Among the broad groups of variables that influence the various stages are prior conditions (e.g., the consumer’s previous consumption practices), characteristics of the decision-making unit (e.g., socio-economic characteristics), and perceived characteristics of the innovation (e.g., relative advantages).

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Marketing Communications Strategy


Strategies vary depending on the primary audience—customers, distributors, opinion formers, and stakeholders. The stakeholders require a message that communicates the organization’s values rather than specific offerings, whereas the customers may want specific product offerings and benefits.

Strategic options must be generated before deciding on a final strategy. It is highly unlikely that the first communications strategy that emerges is going to be the best one. Herebelow are some points to be remembered while making a strategy:

  • Objectives, strategy, tactics, action, and control.
  • Do your homework.
  • Develop some options.
  • Know your resources.
  • Win senior management support.
  • Do not hurt the environment.
  • Put everything in place before making a move.

This prepares the way for the development of good strategies. When the strategic options have been developed, they can be compared in order to determine which strategy is more likely to deliver the best result.

Remember, ‘STOP & SIT.’ Ask whether the communications strategy breaks up the market into segments and targets the right customers. Will the strategy fulfill the marketing and communications objectives? Is the positioning made crystal clear? What sequence of integrated communications tools will be used? Musts for communicators are:

  • Always define precisely your audience.
  • Avoid the predictable.
  • Keep the message simple.
  • Use power tools (images that last).
  • Say what only you can say.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

An Advice to Change Leaders: Persuade Indirectly


In large organizations, it is not feasible to persuade people through one-on-one communication. Particularly, if the organization is multi-locational, persuasion has to be through indirect means such as memos, speeches and newsletters. Change leaders also need to build capabilities in persuading others indirectly. The following guidelines can help managers be effective in indirect persuasion:

  1. Neutralize the power of informal networks: Change leaders need to develop reliable communication channels to communicate their change agenda directly to employees in the organization. Otherwise people will rely on informal grapevine that can distort the change message either unintentionally or deliberately. In either case, employees may develop unfavorable perceptions of the change agenda leading to opposition and resistance. Communication channels such as employee forums, town meetings and special newsletters can counter the grapevine and informal networks. Change leaders must be particularly careful in not withholding bad news because such news gets out very quickly into the grapevine.
  2. Repeat the message: Focus and repetition are critical for effective communication. This means that the change agenda should consist of only a limited number (two or three, at best) of themes. These themes need to be repeated and reinforced through different communication channels.
  3. Match the medium to the message: Speeches and video-conferences are ideal to communicate vision and values; these media are also appropriate to inspire people to embrace change. On the other hand, data, graphs and charts are best conveyed in the written form—such as memos, newsletters and web pages. Change leaders must think very carefully about appropriate media before communicating their change agenda.
  4. Simplify the message: The change agenda needs to be conveyed through a framework that is conceptually simple and easy to grasp. Yet, change leaders must avoid the trap of oversimplification. Oversimplified messages sound trite and faddish and can significantly reduce the credibility of the communicator. Simple frameworks are easy to remember, and are also powerful in framing the change agenda to mobilize support.
  5. Create a new story about change: Stories constitute a powerful medium to mobilize support. People are more likely to remember stories rather than facts and figures. Stories are also more effective in persuading people to alter their perceptions of change. Therefore change leaders need to be able to craft their change agenda in the form of story.
  6. Build personal credibility: Change leaders who are respected, considered trustworthy and competent are more likely to be effective in persuading their employees to embrace change. Personal credibility is built on the foundation of consistency. Change leaders must demonstrate consistency between their thoughts, words and behavior. Inconsistent, self-serving behavior can severely erode the credibility of a leader.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Listening


Listening is the most important component of communication. There is a wrong notion that a person who talks fluently is a good communicator. He need not be. It is true that talking fluently is an important component of communication. But all talkers are not good communicators.

Communication has three important components: a) making others appreciate what you say, b) making others understand what you say, and c) making others apply what you say in their life. It is much more than talking.

Listening is said to be a vital factor in the process of communication. One needs to be a good listener in addition to being a good talker, for communicating effectively. One may feel that listening is very simple and everyone is good in listening. The fact is that it is untrue. Many like and do the talking and they seldom listen to others. recall a conversation you had with your friend recently. Estimate the amount of time that you were talking, compared to the time spent by your friend talking to you. You would notice that there has always been an inner urge to express ourselves to others rather than listening to others.

If you want to be good at listening, take care of the following:

  • Be genuinely interested in listening.
  • Look at the person always.
  • Do not get distracted.
  • As you listen keep assimilating the points.
  • When you don’t understand ask the person to repeat.
  • Don’t interrupt unnecessarily.
  • Don’t project your views, ideas in between.
  • Don’t stop the other person till he does it on his own.
  • Be patient.
  • Be careful about the gesture that you make (it should not give any negative signals).

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Call People by Name


President Reagan often is referred to as the greatest communicator ever to serve as President. And for good reasons. He used to speak slowly in a well-modulated voice, looks directly in the person or people he is speaking to, remains calm under pressure and uses simple, easy-to-understand words. Mr Reagan employs many subtle but persuasive techniques in dealing with public. Very importantly, at news conferences which are typically a very difficult presidential task, Mr. Reagan would address reporters by name when accepting a question rather than just indicating with a hand motion which reporter might speak nest. It may seem like a small point, but his method was conducive to help create good relations with the press. Why? Because people cooperate better when they are recognized by name. being addressed by name I a sincere and deeply appreciated compliment. It tells a person, “You are important to me.”

 Lyndon Johnson, the Great “Persuader,” practiced remembering names, and Lyndon Johnson was number one “persuader president” of modern times. He was enormously effective in bringing opposing factions together to get legislation passed.

 Why was President Johnson so effective as a human relations engineer? He worked at it! Long before he succeeded Mr. Kennedy as President, he developed and practiced his own ten rules to make himself more effective in working with people.

 President Johnson’s system for how-to-win-influence-over-people appears below:

  1. Learn to remember names. Inefficiency at this point may include that your interest is not sufficiently outgoing.
  2. Be a comfortable person so there is no strain in being with you. Be an old shoe, old hat kind of individual.
  3. Acquire the quality of relaxed easy-going so that things do not ruffle you.
  4. Don’t be egoistical. Guard against the impression that you know it all.
  5. Cultivate the quality of being interesting so people will get something of value from their association with you.
  6. Study to get the “scratchy” elements out of your personality.
  7. Sincerely attempt to heal every misunderstanding you have had or now have. Drain off your grievances.
  8. Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely.
  9. Never miss an opportunity to say a word of congratulation upon anyone’s achievement, or express synpathy in sorrow or disappointment.
  10. Give spiritual strength to people, and they will give genuine affection to you.

 Every person has a name and as Dale Carnegie observed, a person’s name is the sweetest word in our language. People feel bigger and better when called by name because it is their most valuable possession. It gives them a sense of individuality – a feeling of being unique.

Hereare five guidelines for calling people by their names to win their cooperation:

  1. Pronounce the other person’s name correctly.
  2. In conversation, use the other person’s name often.
  3. Use nicknames only when you know they are preferred by the person.
  4. Use a person’s last name until familiarity is established.
  5. Spell the other person’s name correctly.

 “Do you know who I am?” The law of self-interest—the tremendous craving for self-identity—comes through in many little ways.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Organizing your message


All business communicators face the problem of conveying a complicated web of ideas in an understandable fashion. People simply don’t remember dissociated facts and figures, so successful communicators rely on organization to make their messages meaningful.

The definition of a well-organized message varies from country to country. It generally refers to a linear message that proceeds point by point. If you’ve ever received an unorganized message, you’re familiar with the frustration of trying to sort through a muddle of ideas.

By taking a closer look at the letter, you can identify the four most common faults responsible for organization problems:

1) Taking too long to get to the point.

2) Including irrelevant material.

3) Getting ideas mixed up.

4) Leaving out necessary information.

Achieving good organization can be a challenge. Nevertheless, by working with these four common faults, you can establish what good organization means. Four guidelines can help you recognize a well-organized message:

1) Make the subject and purpose clear.

2) Include only information that is related to the subject and purpose.

3) Group the ideas and present them in a logical way.

4) Include all the necessary information.

Each guideline not only helps you communicate clearly and logically, but also ethically—by making sure you state all information as truthfully, honestly, and fairly as possible.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Polish, Don’t Reshape


Great risk takers and leaders are unique. In fact, that is precisely the key to their prowess: they have built on their own special combination of strengths. They know their pluses and their minuses, but they have elected to build on the positive side of the equation. They don’t try to copy others or attempt to be what they aren’t. they make the most of what they have, what they know, what they do best, and who they are.

Lee Iacocca is a case in point. When he took over Chrysler he had to orchestrate the biggest bailout in US economic history, which included incredibly detailed financing. Yet he didn’t try to be what he was not, a financial genius and number cruncher. Through it all Iacocca remained Iacocca. A great communicator, motivator, and marketer, these strengths had been the keys to his success, and utilizing them in this very trying situation enabled him to succeed.

The real doers share one trait: they build on their strengths. They don’t try to be what they are not; they remain true to who they are. They don’t imitate, clone, or copy, someone else. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses, they choose to polish, not reshape, the stone. You’ll be better at being yourself than at being anyone else.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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