Here comes the science bit
Most businesses have to communicate with people who aren’t listening. They’re not listening because they’re busy. Or scared, or angry, or negative. Or maybe they just don’t care what you’ve got to say. (After all, when was the last time you rushed to read anything from your bank, or your energy supplier?) And if they’re not listening, they won’t do what you want or need them to do.
So here are two proven ways to get people to take notice, and to actually do something.
First, there’s behavioural science (affectionately nicknamed ‘nudge theory’). It starts with the idea that none of us behave rationally all of the time. But we’re irrational in predictable ways. Our behaviour can be swayed by what other people like us are doing, or if someone else has already done something for us, for example.
There’s now a ton of academic literature on these behavioural effects, just waiting to be applied to real business problems. And reframing your communications in small, behaviourally-savvy ways can have big, dramatic results. Have a read of Nudge or Inside the Nudge Unit to find out how businesses and government departments have saved millions with tiny behavioural tweaks.
So behavioural science helps shape your message. But then you have to decide how to get that message across. That’s where tone of voice comes in (also known – not so affectionately – as brand voice, or verbal identity).
Some smart businesses have sussed out that clear, human communication is more effective than dense, corporate language. It can transform response rates and bump up NPS scores, for example. And businesses with really distinctive brands and cultures use language to help them stand out from their competitors, too.
So what happens if you get experts in behavioural science and language working together? You get twice the benefit. And you get Schwa.
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