Mixed Messages

Dan Aykroyd (left) and Joh...

One of my favorite scenes in the Blues Brothers comes when Jake (John Belushi) is confronted by his ex-girlfriend (Carrie Fisher) in a tunnel as he’s making his escape from yet another dicey situation.  Having been stood up at the alter by Jake several years prior, she is in no mood for a discussion of the issues.  She wants action now!Jake behaves as many marketers and politicians do when they become desperate:  he throws out as many messages as he can until one sticks:

Mystery Woman: You miserable slug! You think you can talk your way out of this? You betrayed me.
Jake: No I didn’t. Honest… I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn’t have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD.

I thought of this when I read this piece from The Hill about the McCain campaign.  They write that McCain is putting out several different messages each day and Republican strategists say the lack of focus makes it nearly impossible for him to gain ground on Obama.  Many marketers or managers do exactly the same thing.

To me, an inconsistent message is pretty much the same as a mixed, confused message.  How many bosses do you know that tell employees “my door is always open” but blow employees off when they show up?  It’s the same problem the banks are sending – “we’re broke – HELP!” messages and then pay their management team millions billions in bonuses while cutting employees and asking more of those who remain.

Both as marketers and managers, we need to send consistent messages and we can’t let our actions undermine our words.  Not only is it confusing, it reeks of desperation.  The Reagan White House was brilliant about finding and focusing the message and while you can disagree with their policies you have to admire their skill as marketers.

So here is my consistent message for the next few days:  have a Happy Halloween and a great weekend!

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud

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