Lecture 2. The Stages of Strategic Communication
Hello, dear friends! Let’s continue our short course on communication. Last time we considered the definition and the ultimate goal of communication. Now let’s look at its different stages.

The way communication reaches its goal can be demonstrated by using the so-called communication arrow. Let’s look at this arrow through the eyes of a manager who is organising, for example, a jazz festival. The main task of the manager, in this case, is to attract, on the one hand, participants, and, on the other, visitors. In short, attract customers.

Let’s take the case of zero knowledge about the subject. That is, that our target audience has never heard of our festival. It has no clue what is it. This is the first stage. The name of it is “I don’t know.” We are entering into communication with this condition. So, the main thing for us at this stage is to make sure that the people we are interested in will get knowledge about the festival’s existence. Here we are fighting for attention. We have to break through the concrete wall of information overload and noise and get through to our potential audience. Let’s assume that we’ve succeeded in this. People already know that such a festival exists. Our audience has moved to the next stage: “I know”. But we understand that people also know about numerous different facts. That two times two is four, that the US President is Donald Trump, that the world is fighting climate change, and that all people in this world are mortal. So far. There are many things that people know in this world. But we need something else. The next step is to arouse the interest of our audience. Without this interest knowing about our festival is merely a neutral piece of information. And people don’t care about it. It doesn’t matter for them. Without genuine interest, this information about the festival is just like the law of gravity. (After all we can go through life without thinking about it, however only thanks to this law are we able to move around the planet and not fly away into dark space.) We have to market our information about the festival in a way to attract people to it, want to know it better. People should care about it. Visit the website, find out the dates, agenda, ticket prices. This is the stage of “I’m interested.” What we need here is to show maximum creativity, do everything to reach not the mind but rather emotions and feelings, and push our audience to dig deeper, do something to find out more and take the first step. This step is called the “first attempt”. It is very important for us to make this attempt a successful one so that it actually takes place. So that, for example, the site should be up and running, tickets should be available at the box office. Or, for example, if we are addressing musicians, a producer should pick up the phone and give comprehensive answers to the questions. If we complete the “first attempt” stage successfully, next we have to make sure that this attempt develops into permanent use, roughly speaking. For instance, musicians should express their willingness to be included in our festival programme on an annual basis. And listeners should want to attend our festival every year, so they should book these days in their calendars to attend our event.

We need to form what is known as the “core audience” so that those who try it for the first time become “loyal customers”. If we do not do this, if we do not retain our audience, then we will be spending huge resources every year to go through all the stages from the very beginning, trying to find our customers from a boundless ocean of people.

The last stage, I would say, is the highest achievement. It is when our customer becomes our fan. He or she not only attends our festival every year but brings his family, friends, tells everyone that their life would be meaningless if they don’t try such a tasty musical meal at least once in their lives. At this stage, not only do WE spend our resources for our audience to go through all the stages. Our fans join us in this enterprise. And the communication process gains momentum like a snowball, reaching increasing number of new audiences.

Naturally, all these stages are rather conditional. And real life is more complex. For example, we rarely come across zero knowledge. And the audience may already have a certain attitude which could be not always favourable to us. For instance, it could be a person who doesn’t like jazz at all. Or he or she likes jazz, but the musicians participating in the festival are very crucial for him. Or a person may not like the personality of the organiser or the main sponsor. So, at certain stages we are not so much working with interest as with changing perceptions, breaking stereotypes and shaping a new attitude.

In any case, our most important ultimate goal is the “customer/fan”. How does this transformation take place and how do you achieve it? This is the theme of our next episode.

By now please remember that:

  • The communication process consists of several stages: the audience should first acquire knowledge about the existence of something we are communicating about, then get interested in it, then try it, then become a loyal customer and, finally, become a fan.

Goodbye and see you!

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