Written by Chris Bowman 

If you’re trying to effect wholesale behavioural change in your consumers, you sure as hell need all parts of your organisation pulling in the same direction. Otherwise you risk being pulled apart by horses.

And though I’m more than happy to mix metaphors, mixed messages are a whole different matter.

Consider the recent news that Scandinavian car salesmen have been disparaging electric vehicles (EVs) to customers on the shopfloor, just as head offices grandstand about an electric future.

Even had these revelations not hit the headlines thanks to an undercover sting operation, that’s quite the mixed message to the consumer. The sales literature they’re reading is being contradicted by the very person handing it to them.

If that shop floor experience is the same across dealerships then what does it mean for the company? Missed sales forecasts as EVs fail to shift? Sales sweat expended on product lines the company has no intention of continuing past the next 5 years? Reputational damage as analysts expose the discrepancy and the market assumes the company’s electric-revolution was just so much hot air?

For car brands – where the badge on the bonnet is one of the most important drivers of consumer behaviour – those are serious potential problems.

When brands set out on communications campaigns, some are tempted to forgo the messaging phase, skip the navel-gazing and just crack on with it. They think that, because it’s obvious what they stand for and where they’re going in their own head, it must be obvious to others too.

But it’s only obvious if everyone is bought into and communicating the same messages. From the CEO, to the regional sales director, to the guy on the garage floor. Messages must be clear, persuasive and easily understood across the organisation.

Achieving that alignment takes effort and time, but is well worth it. It’s far more difficult to fix mixed messages than avoid them in the first place – trying to shut the stable door once the horse has bolted.

Because if you can’t harness your organisation’s functions to pull in the same direction, you risk being pulled apart.

If you’re interested in how Aspectus can help your organisation with messaging or communications strategy – or have a suggestion for any other equine idioms we could have (horse)shoehorned in this blog – get in touch.

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