• September 30, 2022

The Goldilocks Zone of Communication

We all have too much. Too many emails. Too much spam. Too many texts. Too much spam on our favorite social networks. And, too many ads everywhere we look. In fact, the noise is at such a high point that advertisements, marketing and propaganda are often mistaken for communication messages that we really want to hear, see and read. So when we’re on the other side, as the one sending the message for our company, association, or chamber, how do we get our communication through the gauntlet of a bunch of pimping to reach customers, members, and maybe even friends? potential customers who really want to hear from us?


The approach most used by uniformed and uneducated communicators is to send more. “Make sure it happens” is their rallying cry. You can almost imagine them laying down their battle armor as they prepare to storm the castle that is your inner sanctuary of peace to force you to read their message. They would argue that the science of the last hundred years has changed. It is no longer the case, they blurtly proclaim, that a receiver needs seven touches for marketing to have any real effect. It also does not hold that the messages from trusted, trustworthy and liking sources are even less than seven, they boast loudly. The noise factor, they boldly claim, has caused the taps to increase to 10, 14 or 22. You might rightly question their heresies and ask: Why not 100? Now, 999?

‘Too much’, as they quickly learn, and you intuitively know by considering your own patterns, becomes zero as they go from trusted source and favored organization to spam in the eye of the recipient. The result? Drop out. Block. Filter. Disconnect. Once that happens, the customer not only doesn’t get the program for the day we were buying, but they don’t get anything. We lose contact. We lose confidence. We lose them. Certainly we can use technology to separate our communications into various lists; so when they unsubscribe from one, they still receive another. Therefore, if you unsubscribe from the newsletter, you still receive the invoice. Or, when they cancel the magazine, they still get the show or product ad. Like gasoline, this is good for running an engine when used properly, but disastrous when thrown into a fire. Clearly, ‘too much’ is a failure.

too little

So the antithesis must be true, right? The ‘too small’ crowd timidly whispers: we’ll send them less. “Less is better” they murmur among themselves. They demurely surmise that one, two, or even three touches (when they’re less nervous about a particular message) over a period of several months is the perfect combination. But, this approach swings the pendulum too far the other way, doesn’t it? The infrequency of communication is trapped in the noise, buried under the everyday trappings of our recipient’s normal life. It’s not that the recipient doesn’t want to hear or read from us. Honestly, they don’t get it. Or, they get it weeks or months later when they clean out their mailbox or junk pile. No, the timid and timid purveyors of the ‘too little’ heresy are wrong too. The science of keys still plays here too. Therefore, ‘too little’ is also a failure.

The Goldilocks Zone

There is a Goldilocks Communication Zone. What is too much? Or very little? Is an event promotion or product announcement as important as an overdue invoice or sale? A webinar? What carries more weight: a new regional economic data report or the death of an influential member? If we cannot rank the importance of communication, then all communication has the same weight: noise. Trash. unwanted mail. Therefore, as we analyze all communications coming from our organization, the first step in finding the Goldilocks Zone is to prioritize our messages. Some clearly should be given more keys and some less; it’s that easy.

Next is the frequency. Once messages are prioritized, they are classified. Again, reviewing the communication plan of the organization as a whole, we must determine the perfect number of communications per period per ranking. Think of it this way, how many emails do you want to receive per period from your favorite organization? How about one you like, you’re a fan, but not a super fanboy or fangirl? How about one in which you have a passive interest? What is the perfect number of emails to keep you interested without flooding you and causing you to unsubscribe? five a day? three a week? One a week? Research has shown that the answer is closer to one a week for passive interests and one a day for super fans. The problem is, what is your organization for each individual customer? That is where science ends and art begins. You need to plan your work and then work on your plan. Start smaller with less, then grow to more if the data drives you that way. Study your findings. Analyze your results. Apply your new theory, then test. However, do it very carefully and methodically. After all, these are your customers, the lifeblood of your business.

So, the Goldilocks Zone of Communication is based on science; but, the delicate science of communications is also an art. Assuming your message is clear, concise, and worth receiving… Assuming your product or service is of value… Assuming your organization is pure, ethical, and relevant… Then, spotting yourself in the Goldilocks Zone for your base it may very well be the most important thing you can do for your organization today.

If you found this article helpful and insightful, you may also appreciate the other three articles in this four-part series on communications: Break the noise with your communication, Anatomy of a communication messageY Do It Your Way: Connecting with Customers and Members.

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