It’s amazing – gyms aren’t just for pumping iron or getting a sweat on. They can actually teach us a few things about how we can communicate better in our working lives. And not just about grunting in public. Yes, it’s true!
Here are five things I have noticed on my daily visits to the gym:
1. Your first point of contact with the customer is always key to your reputation
How do you greet your customer? How do you make them feel valued and special from the second they walk in? My gym used to do this brilliantly: receptionists Leon and Alannah at my gym in Britomart were always bright and cheery, even at Oh My God o’clock in the morning when I visit. They were always keen to find out what I am up to: genuinely interested, and interesting. I would look forward to saying hi.
Unsurprisingly, they have gone on to bigger things, so they were replaced by… people who wouldn’t even say ‘good morning’ when I walk in. Robotic would be a polite description. Either busy chatting to each other, or looking down at the table. Deep joy. Definitely NOT feeling the love there. Happily, they have also been replaced, and by people who are least capable of saying 'hello'...
My outtake? Small things make a big difference in the world of first impressions – and you make that first impression every day you interact with your customers. So, ensure you employ front-of-house staff who are outgoing people: first and foremost it is the job of your greeters to greet people. What a revolutionary thought. Not. And think about how you interact with your customers on a daily basis: can it be improved? Every happier interaction – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant - will build a better reputation for you in the eyes of your customer.
2. Have a goal, make a plan
For years I was going to the gym just to get my body moving, really just to stop me from grinding to a halt in my otherwise sedentary, desk-bound life. No plan, so no progress. Then I started to get frustrated by other people who were clearly progressing, and it dawned on me that maybe they had a plan. So last year I made a plan, lost 20kg and started seeing real gains. Now I am a plan convert: always have a plan.
This is always our approach in our communications work. Our thought process – our plan - on every job is simple, and is ruled by four core questions:
- Objectives: what are you trying to achieve?
- Audience: who do you need to reach, to achieve your goals?
- Message: what do you need to say to those people, so they can help you achieve them?
- Strategy: how will you carry your message to your audiences using channels they use and in ways that engage them?
Answer those questions thoroughly and honestly, and you’ll succeed. But without a plan your communications are just words, just noise: more pointless spamalot marketing guff that has no resonance. So get a plan if you want to get from A to B. And this is particularly relevant if you’re targeting a tender bid or RFP: plan ahead, think about what your client wants to achieve, and then start a process to understand their needs in detail and show how you are aligned with them.
3. The weight you’re lifting is less important than how you’re doing it
We’ve all seen them, mainly men it has to be said, staggering under the biggest weight they can find - barely able to lift it up, let alone use it with control to hit a muscle group with precision. They think they look good, but they’re actually in danger of hurting themselves.
In the gym, as in communications world, it’s not how heavy the weight is but the thought and control that you’re applying to get the job done to maximum effect. Focus on being controlled, the mind-muscle communication links, and make reputational gains by taking careful, well-planned steps to move you forward towards your goal.
4. Don’t do everything every day
When I started in the gym I’d do circuits that worked all muscle groups every day. Easy to remember, and I’d come out feeling like I had made a difference. But not really. Now I know that you need to give a muscle group a few days’ rest to allow it to recover, and then return to it.
This also applies in the world of communications. A full court press of comms activity - a multi-channel blizzard - is not only hard to sustain for long, but is also wearing on the audience: worse, it can have the opposite effect to your intentions, as your audience can become sick of your message (particularly if your retargeting keeps following them around the internet).
Instead, work out when you need to be prominent and when is a good time to step back. If you pop your head up and make noise at a trade show for example, are you just going to be another voice among many – or could you tell your story more effectively and prominently another time? And, conversely, is there an agenda item/bandwagon coming up that you have to be part of?
Time spent focusing on these questions, with one eye on a calendar, will help you be a more effective communicator.
5. Very few people look good in lycra
Certainly not me. Nuff said.
If you’d like any help in creating a communications strategy that helps you to achieve your goals, please contact George Hulbert firstname.lastname@example.org, tel:006421536637 or visit our website www.theclaritybusiness.co.nz. You’ll always get a good welcome.