Actions speak louder: are your messages missing the mark?

Trawling the web for statistics this week (such a fascinating life I lead….!), I stumbled on this little gem from October.

According to a report by McKinsey, an enormous amount of the key messages being put out by B2B companies about themselves are of little or no interest to their customers. They grouped the key messages from 90 global B2B companies by theme, and then surveyed 700 global executives across six sectors to find out which themes were of interest to them when selecting suppliers.

They found that the most common themes, which included such gems as ‘global reach’, or ‘promotes diversity and equal opportunities’, or ‘promotes and practices sustainability’, were almost totally uninteresting to the 700 executives. Even more revealing was that the theme that most executives picked as important was used by exactly zero companies in the survey.

What was this theme, that no-one was emphasising in their communications? It was ‘cares about open, honest dialogue with its customers and society’. Which is a tough one to express in your communications – it’s far easier to demonstrate it through your actions. The second most important was ‘Acts responsibly across its supply chain’.

What these 700 executives are telling us loud and clear is that they don’t care about what companies say about themselves: they care far more about what they do. And that catchphrases such as sustainability, diversity and equal opportunities have become so commonplace as to mean precisely nothing any more.

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