The idea for a Communications bible came from the way some TV shows operate. They create a “Bible” for the show that describes the limits/boundaries of the universe where the show exists. It will cover the characters, their backstory and importantly their motivations. The idea being that when a writer is putting a script together the characters don’t do something that is out-of-character and it keeps continuity. (Yes it does sound bullshitty but it works!)
This is the Bible for Batman the animated series, this is the bible for Battlestar Galactica. (PDF)
As a business, what you want is a bible to show how your organisation communicates internally and externally and the limits of your staff and what they are able to do. The endgame for this communications bible could be to generate sales of your products, to increase awareness of what your company does, to improve a shitty reputation or to just make your interactions with customers better. You chose what you want.
Your Customer Profile
To interact with your customers well, you need to understand what they want from you but also what motivates them before, during and after the interactions with them. Good salespeople are those who understand people (not businesses) and can relate to them. Some questions to consider:
Who are your customers?
- What are the different type of profiles for them? CEO, CTO, office staff, field engineers etc.
- How do they “meet” your product/company? Via your sales team, exhibitions, online via blog and Twitter?
- How do they use and reuse your products?
- How long will the product for? Use once, use it daily, buy but not use?
- How do you encourage them to use the product?
- How do you convert (looking at diff profiles you listed) into a customer? – expert, impulse buyer, friend of a friend, online visitor … each one needs a different form of engagement.
- What is there daily work life like? Will they talk about your products when in the office or on break?
- How do you deal with people who realise your prodcuts are not for them? They can’t go away without something from you…
There are plenty of people who will contribute to the success of your business while never being a customer or spending a penny with you. They include journalists, politicians, fans, business leaders and your competition to name but a few. How do you tell your story to journalists, how do you know what to give them that they’ll find interesting? What is so great about your business (this includes remarkable staff) that makes non-customers want to go and encourage their friends to use you?
Figuring these “characters” out before we start communicating with them will make our jobs much easier. The hard work for communications is the prep and figuring out what to communicate. The action of communicating is the easy part. You don’t tell a potential million dollar investor how the decision engine under your web app is built for example but maybe you do tell the tech reporter.
What’s your story:
- What does your company do?
- (fit the answer in a Tweet too)
- What is the story about your business that you know will be spread the most? e.g. a funny case study that makes someone want to retell the story again and again?
- Why are your products needed?
- How did you bring this idea together?
- How is my world/the world better with this product?
- How will it make my community better even if I’m not a customer? (Sometimes non-customers can evangelise the most)
- Who are the team?
- What are their backgrounds?
- What do they do?
You now need to figure out the way a customer, now knowing their motivations, will contact you, what they could potentially ask and how it gets dealt with. Consider the numbers of ways one type of customer will contact and what they want and the number of people who could take in the request. Quite a lot of variations and so there is potential to drop the ball or communicate something badly.
- Direct phone contact
- Email contact
- CEO met someone at a party, told you to ring her
- Comment on a blog
- Twitter message
- How do you explain your product to Denis O’Brien who you meet in an elevator and have 90 seconds to explain it?
This idea of a Communications Bible will be covered more at the Online PR Course on the 23rd.