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Five Ways a Marketing Mindset Helps Your Compliance Communications

The value of marketing can be a tough sell. It gets a reputation for being manipulative or downright deceptive. 

giphy-Mar-27-2024-01-49-41-4624-PM⬆️ That perception alone makes it especially challenging to get ethics teams on board with marketing. | Source: lonegoatsoap via

(Side note: I feel pretty strongly that if you *truly* believe in what you have to offer, you’ll shout it from the rooftops to anyone who’ll listen. In fact, you’d believe that you’d be doing the public a MAJOR disservice by *not* letting them know about that radically awesome thing.)

But even if you feel squidgy about marketing generally, having a marketing mindset can seriously boost the quality of your compliance communications and the efficacy of your program. Trust me: I’ve got five reasons why.

Let’s dive in.

1. It gives you permission to have critics

Having critics shows that your communications are working. If no one’s complaining, then no one is listening.

Having a marketing mindset forces you to focus on your audience to see what lands and what doesn’t—and the more you learn about the recipients of your message, the more you realize that EVERYONE HAS A FREAKIN’ OPINION, and sometimes they express those opinions with vigor. 

giphy-Mar-27-2024-01-55-08-6174-PMSource: Netflix's Bridgerton via

I mean, some people love Pepsi and hate Coke (weirdos). But just because a Pepsi person responds to a Coke ad by saying that he doesn’t like Coke doesn’t mean that the Pepsi person believes that the Coke person is morally corrupt and dumb. It just means that the Pepsi person is paying enough attention to the Coke ad to have an opinion.

Recognizing this frees you up to depersonalize criticism. Rather than overreacting (i.e., revamping your entire comms strategy because one person emails how they didn’t like that you used an emoji), you understand that criticism is part of the job. And it helps you avoid falling into the trap of milquetoast communications that everyone politely ignores. [Editorial note: After Googling "Milquetoast," we were surprised it isn't what you stock up on before a snowstorm, but actually means "feeble and bland" or simply "meh."]

2. It keeps you grounded with realistic expectations

As rad as marketing is, it’s not a silver bullet. If you craft the most perfect email in the history of marketing, not everyone is going to read it. You’ll probably have to send another. And another. And refine the messaging a bit. And maybe test out different subject lines. And section out the recipients.

That’s just the reality. And having a marketing mindset will help you stay grounded with realistic expectations about what your communications can accomplish. Remember: no one reads everything.

giphy-Mar-27-2024-01-56-34-3917-PMSource: NBC’s Law & Order Special Victims Unit via

So keep good records and benchmark your open rates with other departments. With a marketing mindset, you’ll know what’s reasonable: If you know that your org’s open rate is around 30%, you won’t exhaust yourself trying to get to 50%.

3. It reminds you that communication is only PART of the job

Let’s assume that you’re the most successful marketer EVER: you get SO MANY people interested in finding out more about your rad product. But if you have a marketing mindset, you’ll realize that marketing is only the first step.

Because getting people to come to the website is not the same thing as buying the thing that’s being marketed. There are other things involved: sales, fulfillment, installation, customer service. Marketing is just the beginning!

giphy-Mar-27-2024-01-58-38-0115-PMSource: CBC’s Schitt’s Creek via

Likewise, compliance communications are only PART of the job. Because of your comms, people may know about your checklists and flowcharts and helplines. But they also need to DO the thing: follow your processes and file disclosures and report failures.

Having a marketing mindset helps you focus on the right efficacy measurements of folks being compliant.

4. It reinforces that you have to very explicitly tell people exactly what you want them to do

You know what’s annoying? Reading about something super rad and then having no flippin’ clue what to do next. Like, do I call a person? What’s their number? Is there a website? How about a form to complete? Can I sign up for a newsletter?

That’s why marketers lurve calls-to-action. (Seriously—you can’t talk to a marketer for more than two minutes without hearing “call-to-action” or “CTA.”) And for good reason! Marketers understand that you can’t assume people know what to do next.

giphy-Mar-27-2024-02-06-38-2816-PMSource: Amazon Prime’s The Voyeurs via

In fact, it’s actually disrespectful not to include some sort of direction/CTA: You’re relying on them to take time out of their job to mind-read what you want them to do. It’s like you’re sending an email with a really big shrug at the end of it (“I dunno; you figure it out.”).

Don’t be that person.

Respect your audience, their limited time, and their desire to take the next step. Remembering the need for CTAs will help you create more focused and clear communications that center on action, not just information.

5. It keeps things simple

You’re here at Broadcat. You know simplicity and clarity are goals of every piece in Compliance Design Club. You get it; you’re smart.

So you probably also know that simplicity is HARD. It takes time and mastery of the concept you’re trying to communicate. 

But having a marketing mindset means you understand the value of simplicity. Like #4 above, simplicity respects your audience. And by focusing on keeping things simple, you’re less likely to drown people in too much info that their brain just TL;DRs all your comms.

giphy-Mar-27-2024-02-10-53-3205-PMSource: Amazon Prime’s Star Trek: Picard via

So, tough love time: Go look at the Apple website. (No, really. I’ll wait.) Now compare the iPhone marketing page with Apple’s Ts&Cs. Which does your latest email blast more closely resemble?

If you’re uncomfy about adopting a marketing mindset, remember this: marketing is essentially an empathetic exercise. You have to know, understand, and *care* about your audience’s perspective enough to tailor your communications to them. And when you have that kind of mindset, everyone benefits.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, Aimee! 

A Broadcat emeritus, Aimee is a recovering lawyer with in-house, big firm, and law-clerk experience, internationally and in the States. With a recent focus on marketing and communications, Aimee knows the importance of conveying messages that are precise, understandable, and persuasive. You can find her at live music venues, on the Frozen ride at EPCOT, or on LinkedIn here.

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