On Being Communications Bankrupt

Some suggest that quality over quantity is winning the day in the blogosphere.  Maybe so.

But the real challenge may be coming up with new and fresh things to say about relevant topics. The "always on" nature of the Web combined with 24x7 news cycles and cable make it nearly impossible to be the first on a topic (or even the most relevant) unless we (or someone) sits here on a continuously monitoring basis.  Probably not worth it.  Frankly, we'd rather spend our precious cycles delivering for our clients.

But suppose for a second we did a clever job of using RSS feeds, bots, and other intelligent tracking tools to give us the stuff most relevant to us to share with our clients and readers, the fear is we'd still #FAIL.  And the simple reason: content bankruptcy.  In an age of content abundance, we're drowning. 

No, actually we're simply communications bankrupt... that is, the content consumption bandwidth side of the ledger is overcome with the amount of content to consume.  And this is most apparent within our inboxes here.  We intake and stock pile gigabytes of messages and content like the squirrels outside our window this time of year, but seldom if ever do anything with it until that moment of panic when we often hear cursing in the office as someone tries to wrangle Google gMail searches to find that elusive message.

For practical purposes, one glaring result is this medium here -- our blog.  We swear we're back in the saddle with planned regular contributions, only to fall radio silent and due to a couple of repeating problems:

  1. By the time we wade through the daily grist of content in our inboxes or on one of our collaboration platforms (Opal is our fave by the way) the topic of relevance is no longer, or it has already been so bludgeoned with other posts, retweets, continuously updating pundit columns, screen saver news casters, wire service streams, and assorted carnival barker commentary, that it seems a disservice to rehash it further.
  2. Another time management hurdle is simply disciplining ourselves to offer up stuff of relevance to our clients in as timely a manner as possible.  Client work comes first here, always (the Bosses read this! ;-)  Client relationship management is a close 2nd (yes, we eat our own dog food ;-).  The distant 3rd becomes all other things "client development."

This latter notion "client development," which means different things to different people, for us is an important part of our own CRM.  And we're coming to realize that "development" in this sense is (or should be) more about helping our present and past clients who happen by here with SMART content.

Sure, "development" in this context can also refer to growing our own business and we won't pretend to ignore the fact that blogs, tweets, newsletters, and other communications are supposed to have the value of keeping us and our services in the forefront of clients and prospects' minds.  But for us that is not our primary purpose here (at least for now; we've been blessed with a solid referral network to date...knocking on a piece of hardwood.)

To avoid a rambling, let's bring it back to our intended point:

We're all communications bankrupt here at C[IQ]

We're not making the best use of our tools (eMail, blog, twitter, etc.) for the benefit of our clients (or yes, ourselves).  And so we're on a hunt to improve, streamline, and smarten our content feeds, as well as do a better job of increasing their utility.

All of that brings us to two quick points.

  1. Going forward, we're going to focus on topics here that are purely client driven; that is, material that emerges from client inquiries, work challenges (and solutions), and stuff that is inline with current assignments.  We still may frolic and detour into more heady topics on occasion -- after all we still feel concerned about Internet Governance, for example.
  2. And here is the key item:  If any of this post has resonated with you; if you've found yourself nodding in agreement, then consider how this problem is impacting your customers as well.  In fact, use this as the yardstick for your own client relationship management strategy: knowing that we're all drowning in content and the signal-to-noise ratio is continually degrading, develop new ways (and means) of communicating with your customers in such a manner that whenever you offer something it will assuredly have their attention.

We've opined repeatedly about SMART communications and all that.  And sure, we all must strive to be succinct, meaningful, applicable, relevant, and above all, timely.  But there is possibly another element -- one that may even seem counter intuitive.  It came to light from us reaching out to our clients recently to learn their view on how frequent we blog, communicate, or push content to them.

Less is More.

Yee-up, that's right.  In fact, turns out that no one is complaining about radio silence from us on this front.  Of course, before we assumed the worst on that response, we probed deeper.  And we also discounted clients who we are in daily contact from current work. And the feedback was the same: in essence they told us, "We have come to expect that you don't blather daily on topics and flood us with communications, so that when you do post something or send us an item we actually read it because its probably important or very relevant."  In other words, the space between postings is actually making what we do put up more important or "quality over quantity."

So, it may be that in this always-on, always connected, 24x7 continuous content cycle that its increasingly all sounding more like noise than signal.  Therefore, a new element to SMART communications may be frequency.

We're not sure this anaogy completely builds, but if so, then maybe "frequency" is sort of a means of "Chapter 11" for communications insolvency.  Yeah, sure as Lawrenece Lessig and others have pointed out: eMail bankruptcy is that point in which you simply delete everything before a certain date, effectively flushing and starting over.  But in a re-org or bankruptcy workout the idea is not simply to flush the debt, but restructure the business to prevent debt from overcoming the balance sheet again. 

We think bringing more intelligence into communications for CRM is increasingly imperative.  And it may no longer be enough to be SMART.  It may now be about some sort of cadence or frequency factor as well.  We'll ponder that some more, and hope you do too.  We'd love to hear (er, read) what you think.

We'll also try to become just a tad more frequent here, but not unless we have something we think offers some original thought on our part or adds something of value to your own content ledger.

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Gregory Miller, CTO

Greg has been in the tech sector as a software architect and engineer, product manager, marketing and biz dev exec., and even IP and privacy lawyer for 3 decades. He is currently on the Board of a non-profit tech foundation reinventing America's election technology, is a venture adviser in the Silicon Valley, and serves as the CTO for C[IQ] Strategies, Inc.