What Your Communications Strategy Can Learn From Catcalls OR What I Said on NPR

Yes, your communications strategy can learn a lot from cat calls which is a topic I spoke about on NPR's Tell Me More with Michel Martin.

¿Qué qué? What can "¡Oyeee, Mamiiii!" (accompanied by puckering lips sounds) teach me about engagement, messaging, and outreach?

Turns out, mucho.

Firstly, let's define what a cat call is: an unsolicited communication exchanged between people, especially from a man to a woman.

The content is shaped by tone, context, and power. Can be sexually suggestive and lewd. In extreme cases, can move from words to actions, as in touching.

Basically, if cat calls were spam, it's the worst kind, clogging your inbox, along the lines of: Russian Brides! XXX Videos!


Instead of a feminist commentary, I will look at cat calls within the context of communications strategy.

The most powerful business tool at your disposal are your communications. You may have the most amazing product with the most innovative bells and whistles. You may have a service that fulfills an unmet consumer niche and oozes efficiencies.

But if no one knows about it, how are people going to buy in?

Breaking it down to the ground, how are you going to sell it?

That's where marketing comes in, including branding:

  • What is your service, product, company, ultimately who are YOU?
  • And as important--what isn't your service, product, company, ultimately who aren't you?

Using cat calls as a spring board, I will focus on basic strategies you probably already use in your life to create a kick butt communications plan. You just need to make a few tweaks and voilà you will become a super star at effectively reaching your customers, colleagues, and the people you love.

Viviana's 4 Pilars of a Kick Butt Communications Strategy

1. "Hi Viv" OR Know Your audience: I HATE it when someone calls me Viv (only Big Bro' is allowed) or Vivian. Listen to people and find out as much about them as possible. This may require you to segment or have several, slightly different and whenever possible, personal ways of reaching distinct people. My buddy and social marketing strategist Ted Rubin calls it Return on Relationship (which is also the name of his latest book). He effectively argues that the best investment which will yield the biggest profit margin directly proceeds from the quality of your relationships.

2. Why Watch the Evening News If You Read All About It on Twitter in Realtime? OR Outreach and Engagement: What is the best form and platform of communication for your audience whether a group or down to each of your contacts? I work in the Latino audience space and I can tell you, my people are on their social media. But you can't discount the significant group that watches Univision and the growing part dabbling in English language TV. You not only need to know your audience but to maximize engagement and outreach, mix it up--blending new and traditional media with as much face to face or personal follow up and follow through as possible. In the case of a cat call, it's no different than a telemarketing call or spam email--it's unsolicited with very little knowledge of the person being called. That means engagement or a "bite" will be low to zilch.

3. Match.com Lessons or Follow Through, Follow Up: Few things are more frustrating in the (online) dating world than when things are going great: You both like Golden Retrievers! You both like to go camping (does the Fairmont at Banff count?, she asks)!...and then....[insert the sounds of crickets]. Radio silence. You have to cultivate your contacts if not on a daily, a regular basis. In Point #2, I emphasize knowing your audience to strategize the best outreach and engagement for each group, even each person. Now take this to how you network: are you hitting up your contacts when you need a connection at a company that has a job opening? Or are you reaching out on a regular and better yet, personal basis? This requires setting a two step communications goal:

  • Part One: Define: Who do you want this person to be to you?--a mentor, a consigliere, a better boss, a sponsor which I define in 6 Minute Career Climb: You, Inc. Video.
  • Part Two: Execute: Being intentional and mindful of how you achieve this goal (of which cat calls are neither).

4. "He's Making a List, He's Checking It Twice" OR Mailing Lists: Even Santa knows the power of mailing lists! Whether you are ol' school and still have an address book or use your Gmail contacts, that information, especially the email addresses are the seeds of a powerful business tool--the email list. Are you using this to the max? In this day and age of what I like to call the "email crush," people are justifiably touchy about receiving promotions on email. Still, don't let that stack of business cards gathered at work and after hours events go to waste. Think strategically about how you will start building this list which you should do beginning today implementing #1 Know Your Audience, #2 Outreach and Engagement, and #3 Follow Up, Follow Through.

The best communications strategy uses every day job, home, even dating world skills. Focusing them using my easy tips will maximize the reception and engagement with your message, making you more successful in business and in your personal life. Unlike a cat call, your communications strategy should deliver useful information and connection, not come across as a slap in the face.

What is your #1 communications tip? Please remember to leave as much detail as possible so our community can learn from your genius.
And ¡thank you! for reading and sharing.
Mil gracias, un abrazo,

Click below to hear my contribution on NPR's Tell Me More with Michel Martin, Catcalls: Ignore It or Enjoy It? which aired on June 12, 2013.