I recently finished listening to an audiobook entitled Words That Work, by Dr. Frank Luntz. Being a marketer I found the subject matter more than interesting. It’s relevant. Communication is what marketing is all about. Critics can’t seem to get past Dr. Luntz’s past political affiliations and experiences, but I believe behind each of his stories there is something to be learned about our language and how the words we use affect communication.
There was one particular story from the conclusion of the book which stuck out to me. Dr. Luntz recounts a common experience that occurred in his house growing up. His family had a housekeeper that would come to their house a couple of times a week and every week his mother would have tremendous difficulties explaining to the housekeeper exactly what she wanted cleaned. In her frustration his mother’s voice would just get louder and louder until the point that she was yelling at the housekeeper. Dr. Luntz looks back on these accounts and points out that his mother thought she wasn’t being heard when in all actuality she wasn’t being understood.
As marketers we must realize this distinction. When our message isn’t being understood we must adapt and change it. Making it louder and more intrusive doesn’t make it comprehendible. If the message is right, all it will take is a whisper.