Employee Communication: “Selling” Information to Employees…Style Matters!

Frank Kenna

A Lesson from the Girl Scouts

A while back I went to our local supermarket and on the way in saw three Girl Scouts selling cookies. They had a big pile of cookie boxes; it was looking to be a long afternoon and they looked a bit glum.  I’m not big on cookies, so I walked by and into the store to get my stuff.

A while later I left the store via the other side where there was another table set up, again with three Girl Scouts, about age 10 or so. But these girls were very different. As they saw me exiting the store, the first Scout popped up and yelled – very sweetly – “Do you want…” Then the second one stood up and said,  “To buy some,” and then the third: “Girl Scout cookies!!???”  Then they continued bouncing up and down laughing and smiling. Irresistible.  So a few minutes later, and $20 poorer, I was the proud – and happy – owner of several boxes of cookies.  I sat in my car and thought about what had just happened. The same day, same location, same product and same sales setup. Only one difference: enthusiasm for their presentation and product.  Wow, what a complete difference.

Buying cookies is actually very similar to buying information.  Think advertising: companies who want to sell you their product or service don’t have an actor read the pitch off a sheet of paper; they spend tens of thousands, sometimes millions of dollars producing that information so it will catch your attention, so you will buy their product.

Keeping Employee Communications Interesting

As a communicator, you too are trying to sell information.  You want your employees to see, digest and learn from the information you put in front of them.  But just like the ad wizards behind Coke or Pepsi, you should carefully consider how you present that information.

Let’s say you’re announcing a change to your 401k program.  Do you print out a standard company memo and tack it to the company bulletin board or digital signage equivalent?  Or do you give it some thought and add some color, graphics and perhaps animation?

It’s not hard to take a drab, yet-another-memo or metric and make it something special.  Every mainstream word processing or presentation program gives you tools to do this quickly and easily.  The time is really worth it—just think about the difference in presentation between those two groups of scouts: sale or no sale.

Jude Carter
January 20, 2012

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