On a dreary Saturday morning I attended a “special emergency meeting” of the Property Owners Association. The meeting, called after 5% of the ownership signed a petition, was for the sole purpose of removing a board member who had… well, in my mind he did his job, but I wasn’t part of the 5%. Suffice to say, the spectacle was conducted much like a trial. The disgruntled homeowners (not us happy ones) hired an attorney to present their case. The ‘jury’ was actually comprised of all homeowners with the judicial role being played by the chairman of the homeowner’s board.
What does this have to do with marketing?
As marketers we try to influence actions, we persuade, we create awareness of real or perceived facts. As marketers we are selling ideas, products, or both. As marketers we are seeking to initiate change from the status quo – sort of like trying to remove a board member.
As attending a meeting such as this was brand new to me, I was pleased to learn this simple issue was to be made more colorfully intriguing by tales of long simmering family disputes, learning of hidden payoffs and bribes; uncovering embarrassing arrest records; a disdain for bureaucracy from those charged with crossing t’s and dotting i’s. But, the biggest “marketing” lessons were generally taken from observing “the lawyer I wouldn’t want representing me!”
Lesson 1 – Know your facts and anticipate what you don’t know
Lesson 2 – When ‘presenting’ things in a timeline its best to start at one end and move towards the other – hopscotch is not a good presentation mode for dates when they matter
Lesson 3 – If people have to ‘hear you’ (literally) then audio matters! Know which end of the microphone to speak into; know how far to hold it from your face; know how to avoid the ear splitting electronic screeches that scream ‘amateur’
Lesson 4 – When presenting to a few hundred people whose votes literally matter don’t whine about the computer hating you if it doesn’t play well with the projector. Control your environment and tools. Rehearse a presentation.
Lesson 5 – About that projector…It throws light beams. When projected off a screen it shows the image. But if that light beam is ‘interrupted’ (say by a lawyer constantly walking in front of it) then the audience gets a high res image of the attorney’s midriff, crotch and thigh area turning them bluish (the lawyers body, not the audience).
Lesson 6 – The purpose of the presentation is the purpose of the presentation….sure would have been nice to stick to the purpose of the presentation! Present highlights and do it in a way that is impactful, memorable and relatable for your intended audience.
Lesson 7 – Know the difference between an attention getting “challenge” and an off-putting “threat.” As marketers, our job is to call attention to our message but starting a relationship with an important constituency with a threat isn’t a great way to win support nor establish credibility.
Lesson 8 – PowerPoint visuals work best if they can be read! If your “jury” is 60 feet away and your screen is literally filled top to bottom with contractual legalese and nothing is highlighted don’t think you’ve successfully communicated. Marketers: can your intended audience read the important highlights?
Lesson 9 – Understand your environment. The PowerPoint itself was counterproductive. For every 20 minutes it took the lawyer to make point the “folksy” accused was able to counter it in about 30 seconds with far more credibility to this audience.
Lesson 10 – Marketers – know the professionals you’re dealing with. And, avoid that lawyer!
Verdict: Board member remained on the board. Likely reason: a marketing communications failure.
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