Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Do you factor ROE (return on ego) in your communications?

I'll never forget the nonprofit executive, a new colleague on a new comms director job for me, who said, "Let me just warn you: We don't compete for profit. We compete for attention."

The ego's no stranger to communications directors. They know all about yours, and how it's likely to play out in terms of needing to be named publicly as a donor, or getting your name on a building or in a press release. In my workshops for communicators on working with experts, I've even heard of CEOs who want music to play when the enter the room, "just like the President of the United States." Cue the hot air.

Let it go takes a communicator/marketer's point of view and urges brands to let go of their brand egos and start listening to customers instead:
Ego is the driving force around brand feedback and listening. Stop spending all of your time getting feedback on the brand and the products. Talk about the needs of the customer, and then figure out if your product and brand fits into those needs. Now, I am not advocating that we abandon all product testing; I am just saying that we need to do more testing around the needs of the audience. In terms of listening, stop only listening to your brand. You are missing 85-98% of the conversations that should matter to you if you want to cut through the clutter.
I think communicators need a new metric for this, and it's ROE--Return on Ego. Beware of Pursuing ROE -- Return on Ego looks at this from an entrepreneur's point of view, but I'd like communicators of all stripes to start talking openly about the requests that have a higher ROE than return on investment. And don't just talk amongst yourselves. Bring your management into the discussion. Start keeping track of the hours, hourly rates and staffing required to boost the egos, and report them...starting with yourself and your team, then moving up the chain.

Why? There's a real cost to your business for padding egos, and you'll find it enumerated in the first chapter of The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't. Start working on a no-asshole rule for your communications efforts. It's a great way to wield your influence and stop a lousy trend. And you may find you have more time to devote to the more humble experts among you, the people who didn't get all the attention previously.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by gynti_46)

Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

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