Use Yah Blinkah!

A few weeks ago the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) revealed their latest digital sign, “Use Yah Blinkah” to remind those of us in the fabulous state of Massachusetts that communicating with other drivers about our next move is important. If you’ve ever driven through Massachusetts you’ve discovered that most of us consider the blinkah an optional gadget in our car. Seriously, it’s amazing we don’t have a major problem with road rage because, from my observation, most of us simply ignore this important safety rule.  This month we discuss the importance of speaking yah customer’s language!

Beth Goldstein

What Do Yah Customahs Hear?

DOT recognized that they weren’t getting  through to their customers but instead of pleading with drivers to be courteous, they decided to use humor to grab our attention. They successfully managed to gently remind us to observe the rules of the road by having fun with the fact that Bostonians are known for dropping their “r’s” when speaking.

I suspect that the DOT has tried more conventional methods of getting drivers’ attention. However, I missed the message and I wonder how many others did as well. Nonetheless, this creative tactic certainly got my attention and went viral pretty quickly. I found out about it through a Facebook post. At first I thought it was a hoax but was delighted (thrilled actually!) when I saw one of the signs on the Massachusetts Turnpike (aka Da Pike).

Imagine that – a government agency acting like a business to ensure their message was not just delivered but received! They became marketers – thinking like their  ‘customers’ to ensure that those who had gone deaf listening to this message in the past were now hopefully more engaged in the dialogue.  I think it was brilliant marketing and applaud the DOT for having the courage to think outside of the conventional box to appeal to its citizens using a voice they recognize and can smile at. Humor can be a very effective form of communication.

Why is it so important to think like your customers to ensure they hear you?
This reminds me of the personal branding story I’ve shared in my books and told numerous times during my growth seminars. Here’s the story, if you missed it… or simply want to hear it again.  I know this is my mother’s favorite!

When my son Ben was a little boy we decided to have the shutters replaced on the outside of our house. It was the middle of the winter and our contractor placed a large blue tarp over our house to protect us from the pending blizzard. When Ben asked why our house was covered in blue, we explained that there was a huge blizzard coming and we needed to be protected from it. Unfortunately this caused  a lot of fear for our 3-year old and Ben had nightmares for several days until  we figured out what the root cause of the problem was.

It turns out that 3-year olds don’t know what blizzards are but they do know what lizards are. Ben didn’t comprehend what we said (we failed to think like him) and he believed that we needed to be protected from the huge lizard that was about to attack our house. You see, perception is reality and Ben only heard what he was able to comprehend – lizard…. not blizzard.

It seems that the DOT understood that they weren’t getting their message delivered any better than Ben’s dad and I had. Message delivered but NOT received – as anticipated is a problem in business and well, in all aspects of life.

How Effectively Are You Communicating Your Brand?

Check with your customers and see if the message you’re delivering is the one they are receiving. How? Simple – either ask them to describe your value to them or  use social media to check. Social media can be a great way to determine how well  you’re explaining your company values, benefits and brand. If the buzz about your business, being shared through the voice of your customer, is different than the  one you believe you are delivering then it might be time to USE YAH BLINKAH and  starting communicating better with customers and prospects that clearly influence the success or failure of your organization. Remember, don’t let your brand be a lizard.