A friend of mine asked me an interesting question today:

Lately I notice that many organizational planners/hr reps and business professionals often make the mistake of believing that marketing and graphic design are synonymous. Do you find this also?

In fact, I do. The understanding of the Communications Continuum, as I call it, seems to be unclear to those outside of our specific areas of expertise. So in the spirit of helping increase understanding between us and our clients, I present…

Boomba Chicken’s Communications Continuum

This is simply my formula to get your product/idea launched as quickly and as cheaply as possible. As an added benefit you also are building a solid marketing foundation for your business to grow into, and creating the tools to support your growing business.

So to build your business you need to know the answer to three basic questions:

  1. Who you want to serve? (Who are your clients?)
  2. Where are your clients?
  3. What do they want to hear that will engage  them with you and your offerings?

This is a fairly simple idea, and everyone does it………….eventually.

Unfortunately, many people move forward with a rough idea or half-baked concept without completely answering those three basic questions. They build a web site… and then draw up a logo… and write some text… and … sit and wait. Then they wonder why nobody is finding their site or buying their product/service, and why it cost so much to get so little business!

Enter the three steps to my Communications Continuum!

Step 1 – The Message

The first thing I recommend people do is to come up with their Message. This is what happens when you answer the three questions I posed above about who you serve / where you can find them / what do they want to hear. This gives you a clear understanding of all of the essential elements, so when you stand next to someone in an elevator you can tell them what you do.

No matter how finely printed your business card is, and no matter how groovy your web site is, if your message is not clear, they aren’t going to buy. A truly good idea can be sold without business cards, web sites, or anything other than words. So spend the time to get your words perfect right up front.

Step 2 – The Look

Walk into your graphic designer’s office and tell them that you want a logo and branding package for a company called “Blue Marble” and “… it serves women in their 30’s – 40’s who are transitioning back into the workplace after raising children, and have a laptop and internet connection”.

Oh. And tell your graphic designer you like earth tone colors, too.

Their eyes will get wide… their mouths will drop open… a broad smile will spread across their face… and they will swoon. They will kiss your toes. They will buy you flowers and throw in all kinds of freebie design extras like a Facebook Cover design. Why? Because you have just given them a very clear understanding of the FUNCTION of the work they are creating, and the AUDIENCE it needs to speak to. You have given them the verbal message that they are trying to represent in images. That is a clear and unambiguous goal and set of design parameters for them to work from and they will love you for it.

And ya know what? You are also going to save money. A designer with a clear understanding of the market, the message, and the goals, will be able to produce the work far more easily and with far fewer revisions. And far less stress!

Step 3 – The Tool

Now walk into your web designer’s office. Tell them your message. Show them your full branding package that your graphic designer came up with.

Discuss with them how you want the user’s experience to be on your web site, and suddenly your web dev is sending you flowers and chocolate, too! (And they may even throw in that Discussion Board feature you wanted, for free!)

The look, the colors, the logo, and the message have already been created, so all they need to do is design the template to those specifications… and then they get to go work on the “interesting parts” of the site!

Again, you have provided your service provider with clear and precise information so they can focus on their area of expertise.

As Rare As Hen’s Teeth

The sad reality is that seldom is the Communications Continuum followed at the outset. But everyone eventually does it. EVERYONE.

Because the message informs the design which informs the tools used to connect with the audience. Quite honestly, it can’t be any other way, if you think about it…

Marketing can be seen at the root of everything we do, whether you call it that or not. Regardless of what your business actually does, you have a way of doing business that differs from others. This essential difference, this unique offering, is also the essence of your marketing since it is the element that your potential clients and customers will use to measure you against your competition.

To bring this home, let’s go back to the original (implied) question:

Lately I notice that many organizational planners/hr reps and business professionals often make the mistake of believing that marketing and graphic design are synonymous. Do you find this also?

I do. And I think the implied question here is, “What do I tell these people when they ask a graphic designer for a message, or a web dev to do graphic design, etc?”

Tell them about Boomba Chicken’s Communications Continuum: Message -> Design -> Disseminate (via the Tools).

This will make sure your messages are on target, your service providers (graphic designers and web devs) are happy working with you, and your customers hear, see, and act on your messages to them.

Now go forth and prosper!