A basic rule of thumb is to keep clear and consistent messaging throughout all your business strategy efforts. This includes a clear to your internal team and stakeholders.
Confusing your stakeholders is incredibly dangerous. The increase of social media use makes it very easy for unhappy stakeholders to publicise their dissatisfaction on the web. Stakeholders have a vested interest in your business. If you lose their trust, a simple dissatisfaction post on Facebook will be the least of your worries. They can start lobbying, create project stalls and create a negative image of your business. This would lead to other problems such as a large increase in cost to complete the project or a loss in potential clients from negative publicity.
Don’t let inconsistent messaging ruin your organisation’s reputation. Keep your stakeholders happy by providing them with consistent and the most up-to-date information. Satisfied stakeholders will help promote a positive organisational image. Don’t miss your opportunity to create a positive experience for your stakeholders.
What is a consistent message?
In relevance to internal business, a consistent message involves communicating the same message across all facets, including departments.
What does this mean in plain English?
It means all of your employees understand the same message. This can include the overall strategic organisational message, the message that was given during a client meeting or the message that was portrayed when training staff members.
Why you always need be consistent when talking to stakeholders
Your employee is having a meeting with one of the project’s stakeholders. An employee tells the stakeholder information about where the project is at and what will be achieved by the next meeting date. After the meeting, another employee catches up with the same stakeholder and discusses the same issue. Only this time, different information is communicated. The second employee communicates different objectives which will be achieved by the next meeting. The stakeholder goes home satisfied with the speed the project is processing.
The next meeting arrives and only the objectives of the first meeting are achieved. What happened? Why is the project not achieving these goals? Why is the stakeholder suddenly being told the second meeting had inaccurate information? Now your stakeholder is confused, angry and demands an explanation.
If only you had a consistent messaging system to make sure all information is accurate and up-to-date. Without accurate data of past stakeholder conversation and project updates, you could experience many different pitfalls and stakeholder relationship breakdowns.
A past article we wrote about the benefits (and common pitfalls) of stakeholder databases emphasises the negative impacts of inconsistent messages.
Your important stakeholders may not receive the right information or invitations to attend events or provide feedback on proposals.
Staff may not know about the latest contacts and issues, which will harm your reputation.
Key information or important stakeholders may be missed when developing strategies.
Let’s say one of your key stakeholders isn’t sent an invitation to an important meeting to discuss the development of the project. A day before the meeting your team contacts the key stakeholder about if they can attend the meeting. This is the first time the stakeholder hears about the meeting. It wouldn’t be surprising if the stakeholder gets frustrated. As a key stakeholder, they have a large vested interest in the project and impact the overall outcome. Not being consistent can cause tension and negative publicity.
Forgetting to send out a meeting invite may sound like the least of your organisation’s problems but it’s the beginning of the ripple effect. First, you forget to send the invite, then you provide a piece of inconsistent information. Stakeholders pay attention to these details.
In the short run, there may not be any obvious side-effects but if your stakeholder starts picking up on more inconsistent information mistakes then the negative impact will begin. Social media outbursts, negative publicity, stakeholders may even drop your business altogether and go to one of your competitors.
Today, consistent messaging your stakeholders is vital. It can be detrimental if you are inconsistent with your messaging, but consistency can win you great publicity.
What can your business achieve from consistent messaging your stakeholders?
Your stakeholders value consistent messaging. They’re looking for helpfulness and guidance. Make them feel like they are getting the most value.
Consistent messaging your stakeholders can:
Built better relationships with stakeholders
Create a confident internal business team
Influence better project outcomes
Save time by stakeholders extending their questions rather than asking the same thing again
Strong stakeholder relationships make it easier to overcome project hurdles. A satisfied stakeholder is more likely to listen to your advice and take it on board. You’ve earned their trust and they value your opinion. Satisfied customers know they can rely on you for the most current and up-to-date information. If there is a hurdle to overcome, your stakeholder will be more willing to help overcome the problem rather than blame the issue for coming up.
Consistent messaging can also create a positive brand image. Stakeholders will be more inclined to keep working with your team on future projects and they will likely recommend your organisation to other potential customers. Consistent messaging doesn’t have to be a nightmare to implement. All you need is good management systems and structure.
Consistent messaging is important
Consistent messaging is an important part of everyday business operations. Stakeholders value the most up-to-date, consistent information. Train your employees to understand the importance of consistent messaging. Save yourself going around in circles on the same subject in every meeting by having documented data on past conversations with stakeholders. Consistent messaging doesn’t have to be a hard-to-implement process. The content just needs to stay consistent and be regularly updated.
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