Studio MicrophoneA lifetime ago, in what seems like a galaxy far away, I spent some time in the broadcast industry. More specifically, in a radio studio.

At the time the fast paced “Top 40” genre topped most markets, and was designed to sound slightly anti-establishment with a shoot-from-the-hip tone. In reality, it was a highly structured, tightly formatted, close-to-scripted approach to delivering an experience.

The “clock” (a minute by minute kind of info-graphic of an hour) ruled. It was based on exhaustive research of what would keep the target audience tuned in. The job of the on-air “personality” was to stick to what the research said would work.

One quickly learned that at almost any cost, you were to avoid “dead-air” — broadcast shorthand for any silence between programming elements. Even a second or two of dead-air gave a prospective listener time and/or reason to sample a competitor’s programming on a different frequency.

Every segment was both product and marketing opportunity. Even the revenue engine — paid advertising — was more effective if it was part of the experience.

Business Development and the Customer Experience

The premise — that valued connections warrant a vigilance that continually engages — is a principle that translates to business development and client service efforts almost anywhere.

The occasional email, quarterly newsletter, annual event or however-well-timed-and-heartfelt-holiday-wish are hardly enough to seed what David Maister termed trusted advisor status. Each might be part of a plan, but allow too much radio silence to creep into your communication calendar, and no one should be startled when relationship growth proceeds at a snail’s pace. Or, when your prospect disengages.

Quality, multi-dimensional and regular communication is the fabric of a relationship that is going somewhere.

As is the case with almost everything related to business development, a broadcast-hour-type cookie-cutter solution for every pursuit does not exist. The elements of a thoughtful communication — the frequency, specific touch-points and nature of the message — depend on alignment with the target in three areas.

  • Personal and organizational interests and values
  • Organizational goals and aspirations
  • Critical business drivers

Understand what a target or key client values most, their short and long term goals, and their most intensely felt business drivers, and the framework for relevant communication elements is in place.

If a timing benchmark is helpful, think about connecting in some way nine or more times a year. The more frequent the relevant touches, the better. Incorporate a healthy dose of communication that includes a personal dimension. (Blogging gets consistently high marks in this arena.)

Use your best instincts on timing. Seek and listen to feedback — verbal and non-verbal. Be vigilant.

Think of business development — with targets as well as existing clients — as an opportunity to package an experience, and engage the audience.