COME OFF BROADCAST, GO ON RECEIVE
I’m not a big fan of the TV series Mad Men.
But my wife likes it a lot, so I end up watching it.
Last week there was a sequence in it that I thought was actually very perceptive.
An account man is sitting at a dinner table next to a French philosopher.
The philosopher is cynical about advertising.
He says haughtily “So, what is your job?”
The account man says “I’m an account man.”
The philosopher says sneeringly “And what exactly do you do?”
The account man says “Well what do you do?”
The philosopher says proudly “I am a philosopher.”
The account man says “I hear you’re more than that, I hear you’re very eminent in your field.”
The philosopher raises his eyebrows, surprised that the account man has heard of him.
He says modestly “Well, perhaps you could say I am, yes.”
The account man says “In fact I hear you’re more than a philosopher. I hear you’re a fine teacher, too.”
Blushing now, the philosopher says “Well, my goodness, perhaps that is also true. Yes, indeed.”
The account man says “In fact, I hear that we’d all be a lot better off if we took a lot more notice of your views on many things.”
The philosopher is now thrilled and embarrassed.
He says “Oh, my dear sir, you really are too kind, thank you.”
And he shakes the account man’s hand warmly.
And the account man says “That’s what I do.”
The account man turned the philosopher’s view from cynicism to trust in just a few sentences.
By talking about the philosopher instead of talking about himself.
By finding out about the target audience.
Instead of just talking about himself and what he wanted.
Which of course is the lesson for all of us.
It’s no good just telling someone what we want.
They already know that.
We work in advertising, we want their money.
But, instead of just nagging them into it, why don’t we look at what they want?
Instead of talking over them, let’s just listen to them.
In the military they communicate by walkie-talkie.
The walkie-talkie has a switch marked BROADCAST and RECEIVE.
You have to switch from one to the other.
You can’t do both at the same time.
This is to stop garbled communications in battlefield situations.
To stop people trying to talk over each other.
You press one button to talk.
Then, when you’ve finished, you press the other button to listen.
You either talk or listen, you can’t do both at the same time.
This makes for clarity of communication.
And clarity is what makes real communication work.
One talks while one listens.
Then one listens while the other talks.
If we do that we can find out what’s important to other people.
What do they want or need?
What do they care about?
Then we can work out why they should care about what we want.
How do we fit into their lives.
And we can crop up in their lives like an opportunity.
Instead of just another nag.
But first we have to realise that there are other people out there.
And they’re not a captive audience.
And they’re not interested in what we’re interested in.
And that’s who we need to be talking to.
We have to come off broadcast and go on receive.