Communicating with Mom is no longer child’s play
Original article at: GalTime
For many, the mother-child bond is one of the most cherished relationships in life. It is also a unique and ever-evolving one – filled with its own special lexicon built through years of shared experiences. But that doesn’t mean communication is always easy. Often it is riddled with heavy expectations on both sides and saddled with a comfort level that can allow a heavier dose of attitude than would be acceptable in a conversation with a stranger.
With Mother’s Day around the corner, I began thinking about how the lessons I have learned as a marketer can be applied to my personal life, especially in my relationship with my mom. If you want to improve communication with your mother, you could try therapy. Or, you could take a few tips from the discipline of marketing and have the most successful conversation of your life.
1. Know your audience
What marketers do: The best marketers know that messages need to speak to your listeners’ needs and mindset. They build audience profiles and try to always see things from their perspective. They don’t get caught in the weeds of talking about this great technology they have — they know their prospects’ eyes will gloss over because they care more about the what I get than the how I get it.
How it applies: My mother is a master gardener to the highest degree. Her enormous green thumb makes the Jolly Green Giant jealous. A major need in my mother’s life is feeling connected to me and ensuring I’m happy and fulfilled. And while she cares about my successes at work, she doesn’t fully understand what I do and the more detail I go into, the more confusing it can get. However, if I briefly cover work (“Met a great potential client the other day, I’m really excited about them.”) and then move on to my thoughts on how I’m going to landscape the front walk, the conversation will be much more successful, fulfilling, and full of connection for both of us.
So, take a step back and spend time understanding what your mother’s daily challenges are and what motivates her behaviors. Simplify your stories whenever possible to get to the gist, and why it should matter to her. Let her set the pace and offer up details as the conversation unfolds. Speak in her language and you’ll foster understanding and engagement for both of you.
2. How you act, how you look, and how you sound need to be aligned.
What marketers do: At CoreBrand, we counsel clients that their brand needs to be consistent throughout the organization’s business processes, culture and communications. If a sales person promised fast service but delivery deadlines are consistently missed or if you claim to be modern and innovative but your website is straight out of 1998 — confusion arises. When conflicting messages enter the market, no one knows what you stand for, trust erodes, and your reputation will suffer.
How it applies: Often we children don’t realize our moms are equipped with super-sensory detection. They don’t just hear the words we say, but they hear how we say them and notice every nuance of how we look while talking.
A sigh that would be undetectable by a friend or coworker can send up a flag of alarm for a mom. Be sure that the words that come out of your mouth match the rest of the visual and contextual information your mom is absorbing.
Want your mom to think everything is a-ok, even if it isn’t? A smile can go a long way — and can even be heard over the phone. On the other hand, you can use discord to your benefit. Need some extra TLC from your mom? Don’t comb your hair, show up in sweatpants, but insist everything is “fine”... Surely she will immediately notice something is off and swoop in to help.
3. Communicate consistently and frequently for your message to be heard and understood.
What marketers do: There used to be a generally accepted rule that advertising took a minimum of four impressions before being remembered. In this age of media saturation, I’ve heard that number quoted as having risen as high as eight impressions. For a company’s message to gain traction, it needs to be repeated consistently and frequently. Too often marketers get bored of campaigns and alter or end them exactly when the market is just starting to recognize and remember them. While it may be the umpteenth time you’ve read your own tagline or headline, it may be the first time your target audience is really noticing it.
How it applies: I have found that even if I don’t have anything new to report, calling my mom a minimum of once a week is critical for successful conversations. Talking frequently allows for a greater sense of being connected. Updates don’t have to be just about the big life milestone, and they don’t have to be more than a few minutes long. When you can talk about the more mundane aspects of life it fosters the impression of a closer, more trusting relationship. It feels like you are more involved in each other’s daily lives.
For those of you who have mothers who call to check in all the time — try to pick up at least once a week. Or even better, call her for a change. A little effort goes a long way.
4. Use multiple channels to communicate.
What marketers do: In order for your marketing message to be heard, it doesn’t just need to get out there consistently and frequently, it needs to get out there in various formats. Some people are online folks, some prefer a brochure in the hand, and some are obsessed with video. Disseminating your message through multiple channels not only ensures you more quickly reach the threshold for remembrance/awareness (see Tip #3), it also allows you to capture a broader target audience. Advertising, events, bylines, social media, affiliate marketing — a savvy marketer knows that finding the right marketing communications mix is crucial for a successful campaign.
How it applies: I live 300 miles from my mother and between our two busy lives, we can’t always connect on the phone. But I can write her an in-depth email while I’m on the train. And when I am home, sometimes we do a Skype video chat that can give the same sense of connection and fulfillment of a phone call in a much shorter amount of time. (However, when incorporating video, be sure to refer back to Tip #2 and pick up the mess in the sightline of the webcam.) And, occasionally, I try to spice things up by dropping something fun in the regular post, like a sweet picture drawn by her grandchild. The delighted thank you email I get in return lets me know it’s worth it. Try branching out from just phone and in-person get-togethers with your mom. Communicating across a variety of channels adds richness to interactions and makes it much easier to keep up on the needed frequency of communication.
5. Know when your competition has you beat.
What marketers do: It is vitally important to keep a pulse on the competitive environment in order to ensure differentiation and relevancy in the eyes your constituents. Savvy marketers keep files on all of their competitors — even setting Google Alerts to keep up on real-time happenings. Knowing what options prospects are exposed to will help position their companies more astutely. In some cases, it will help you realize when you can’t beat a competitor and resources are best distributed to other parts of the budget. By having perspective on the whole market, you can stop wasting time trying to be all things to all people and focus on where you actually can win.
How it applies: When talking with my mom, I could go on and on about what I’ve been up to. I could tell her about my job, my commute, our gardening plans, or an upcoming vacation. But in surveying the field of what she may be interested in, I come to a sobering conclusion quite quickly… and pass the phone to my daughter.