#13 Effective Communication Techniques from the 2008 LEAN Communications Contest

by | Sep 30, 2008 | Blog | 0 comments

The LEAN communications contest is getting better, not just older. The 2nd annual contest attracted more entrants who successfully:

1.Used technology to enhance the experiences of their customers and simplify their ongoing

2.Cut waste while either improving or maintaining quality

3. Publicized their achievements.

On the technology front, the first-place winner, Stacey Homan, Marketing Communications Manager of AtriCure, Inc. teamed up with Prolifiq Software to create an application. Yes, a communications professional helped build a software solution and then communicated it!

Thanks to the ingenuity of Stacey and her team, sales reps can now order and send marketing materials electronically from their BlackBerry® devices. This solved two problems. First, Atricure meets the complex FDA regulations for marketing materials. Second, the sales team can now respond faster to their customers, primarily medical professionals, with more targeted marketing materials.

Another entrant, Jill Boyd of the Northern Colorado Conservancy District developed a cell phone audio tour for the Conservation Gardens. Visitors to the gardens can now call a toll-free number on their cell phone for an audio tour. The tour works a lot like a museum audio guide. But no one has to buy, maintain or use special equipment. From visitor’s perspective, they can come to the gardens on evenings and weekends and take an informative, self-paced tour. And virtual visitors also can hear about the gardens.

Jill and her team implemented this solution at minimal cost. They wrote the script and asked fellow staff members to record it talking into a regular telephone handset. The only out-of-pocket cost is a monthly fee to use the phone system.

As for cutting waste, the two contest winners who tied for third place reduced the design and printing costs for their annual reports. Yet they maintained the quality of their products. Both Kimberlee Craig, Public Information Officer,Chelan County Public Utility Districtand Andrew Porter, Manager, Corporate Communications,Teradyne, Inc were able to<lean left This is the concept of pulling back on features to make their products simpler and less costly, yet still remaining valuable to their customers. (Leaning left is an effective technique, especially in these tough economic times.)

Andy and his team also divided his report into two separate documents: a four-page shareholder and the financial section. From a production standpoint, they gained more flexibility on messaging, design and timing. And on an ongoing basis, they and others at Teradyne can use the four-page letter as a recruiting tool, which is less expensive than a bound annual report.

Another entrant, Roshan James ofSun Life Assurance Company of Canada< faced a challenge familiar to many. How do you provide the same level of communication support and service with half the staff? (When a team member left, the company decided against filling the position.)

Roshan revised the processes and principles for how Internal Communications would support Group Benefits. She then created a one-page document outlining the results. It describes the types of regular postings to the Intranet. It also specifies the processes for sending e-mails to important audiences, namely employees, officers and people managers. In revisiting how Internal Communications worked, Roshan and others discovered that Internal communications was contributing to the clutter in their organization.

As for publicizing being lean, MailerMailer raises the bar for all future contest entrants. Margaret Lahey, Integrated Marketing Coordinator, won second place for MailerMailer’s e-mail newsletter process redesign. She and her team demonstrated to her customers ;e-newsletter publishers – how to create an e-newsletter efficiently and effectively and maximize its value.

In September, Maggie released the press release, MailerMailer Raises the Bar in Email Newsletter Design: Company Wins a Spot in Lean Communications Contest.” Maggie also took responsibility for designing the LEAN Communications seal featured here (after diplomatically saying she didn’t care for the seal the LEAN Communicator’s team created). She will feature the seal on MailerMailer’s new website, soon to be launched.(Thanks, Maggie! My idol, Tom Sawyer, and I appreciate you helping us do our work!)

As the sponsor of the LEAN communications contest along with Ragan Communications I was delighted to watch this year’s entrants expand the LEAN communications frontier.
In the spirit of lean, though, there is room for improvement. More on that in a future blog entry.


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