Technology’s Unintended Consequence: The Elusive Worker

Marketers often struggle with the “elusive consumer” — a term used to describe the increasing difficulty of targeting potential customers and capturing their diffusing attention. Now it’s time to meet the “elusive worker.”

It seems as if workers are busier and multitasking more than ever before,  which makes workplace communications more challenging.

Making matters more complicated, workers are processing more messages than ever before. Messages are bombarding workers via email, phone, instant message, Facebook, Twitter and Yammer, among other — not to mention standard face-to-face interactions and ambient office chatter. An incomplete tally of my own direct, inbound messages in the past 24 hours registered at over 500. Not 500 ambient messages, but 500 messages specifically intended to receive my full attention. I’m not sure how I do it.

The importance of message-filtering goes without saying. If you can’t instinctively surface the needles from the haystack, you’ll have a hard time surviving in this clutter-filled information age. Indeed, humans need better filtering tools to create more sense and productivity. Progress has been slow there, so our brains continue to adapt and cope on their own.

But the other side of the coin is getting through the noise, connecting through the filters, and ensuring your message is really understood by your colleagues. The glut of information has created a poverty of focused attention. The ratio of communication to comprehension is going down.

That’s why it’s imperative to prioritize the few messages that matter, and really make them count. Not only that, you need to support messages with meaningful campaigns. They must include a cohesive strategy that spans media formats, and includes repetition, interaction and immersion — even verification.

Many advertisers and marketers have acknowledged this reality, but it’s a rule that is equally important inside the workplace, for members of all ranks in all sizes of organizations.

This also was my latest column in MediaPost.

(Photo credit: ro_buk [I’m not there])

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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