Monday, December 18, 2006

Speaking Their Language

Recently, during a conference call in which I and a number of privacy luminaries discussed the challenges of integrating privacy-related strategies within marketing campaigns, the conversation turned to language.

I’ve discussed this phenomenon a few times in the past, but in this instance it became clear that successfully communicating privacy’s value is about more than simply expressing facts and figures to colleagues, but about understanding and speaking in their language.

What does that mean? Marketers want to know that what you are selling as a privacy advocate means higher conversion rates for their efforts. They aren’t as worried about compliance as you are because that’s a check box, not a strategic initiative. They need a compelling argument to convince them that they can be more successful at what they do. Making the case that following a few simple guidelines will establish a trust-based relationship, and that a trust-based relationship is a more profitable relationship is the key. Give them the data, such as studies by Ponemon and Yankelovich, then show how you will work with them to achieve desired results.

This is a challenge that extends well beyond the bounds of the privacy community, mind you. Seeing things from the other guy’s perspective, anticipating questions and taking the burden of proof upon yourself in order to establish the terms of debate is the way arguments are won.

Recommendation: Be sympathetic to the challenges your colleagues face and take the initiative to be a partner in solving problems. Don’t assume that, because you understand the issue, your colleagues will, too. Make your case, commit to working with them on their terms, then follow-through.

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