Failure to Communicate

March 12, 2019   /   by  Diane Callihan

I think a huge percentage of the world’s problems could be solved if we were all better at communicating. Sure, we’d still have global warming and shark attacks and people that schedule meetings on Friday afternoons, but still.

It would make a big difference.

I pride myself as being a strong communicator because I am a writer. I’m confident that I can get my point across in a clear and direct way.

When I’m writing.

Talking however…eh. Not so much. I like to write because I can think things out beforehand and decide what I want to say and how I want to say it.

On the phone, with no such luxury, I feel like I am much less eloquent. I ramble on. I say “so” a lot.


You get my point.

In marketing, in fact in all businesses, it’s vitally important that you and your clients communicate well. Miscommunications can derail projects, destroy deadlines and wreak havoc with your budgets.

But how do you improve communications with your clients? Here are a few tips:

  • Overcommunicate on your end. This does not mean sending your clients super long boring email reports every day. It means keeping them in the loop – telling them what you’ve done, what you’re working on and what comes next. It means writing up agendas and meeting notes and sending them to confirm that you are on the same page. It means that nothing you do or say should come as a surprise because you’ve been keeping them informed all along.
  • Try different methods of communication. As I mentioned, I am much more comfortable writing an email than talking on the phone, but you need to communicate however your client feels most comfortable (and as often). A face-to-face meeting is sometimes the best way to ensure that you are really understanding each other. Just make sure you share your notes afterward.
  • Understand that some people are more visually-oriented. Some people read copy. Some people skim and look at visuals. Whenever you can share a picture, a screenshot, a wireframe or an infographic to support what you are saying or provide an example to clarify something, do it.
  • Repeat back what you’ve heard from them. This old school technique – I think derived from psychotherapy – is when you say, “So what I’ve heard you say today is X, Y, and Z. Is that correct?” It sounds silly, but it really works. End every call or meeting summarizing the key points you’ve discussed, ensuring you understand them correctly and then list out action items or next steps.
  • Don't muddy the waters. Try to simplify things by just having one point of contact on both sides. That way, you won't have to play catch up on what a client said to one of your coworkers - you'll all be working off the same information.

Hopefully, with these tips, you can spare yourself some of the hassles of miscommunication and save the world.

Want to work with a marketing agency that really listens and gets you? We’d love to help. Let’s Talk.

Diane Callihan

Diane Callihan

With more than 20 years of experience writing for some of the country’s top brands, Diane helped to shape Roger West’s content strategy, lead generation, and PR efforts as Director of Marketing. She currently serves as President of Callihan Content Creation.