Successful businesses are those which communicate well with their audience. Successful condo corporations communicate well with their communities using the same approach.
Most communications are boring with few noticing even the most important. Successful businesses think in terms of communication results. Positive results generate revenues in excess of cost, and profit. Failure results in business failure.
In condo corporations the difference between success and failure is more subtle. Successful communications may deliver improved lifestyle, informed residents, financial savings, legal liability protection and the freeing up of management time to focus on priorities. Failure means higher condo fees.
The majority of condo communications are what residents want to know about – water shut-offs, pool closures, carpet cleaning. Messaging that management or the board want residents to be aware of should stand out from these to achieve goals. The way to do this is to make important communications interesting and relevant.
Establish measurable targets for a calendar or fiscal year. Reducing electricity use by five percent, cut waste disposal costs by 10 percent by increasing waste diversion to recycling and organics, and eliminating pet complaints by 10 percent are all quantifiable targets that produce positive results for the community. Communications intended to help achieve these priorities should stand out if goals are to be achieved. Keep the list manageable so one topic can be communicated at a time.
Avoid reactive communications. Communicating information only after problems or complaints offers no opportunity to establish an agenda and encourage long-term improvement.
Think like a Business
What you want to communicate to the community may not be what they care to know. People don’t want to be told how to live or change their habits to save money. Effectiveness means finding an eye-catching or entertaining way to convey this information without scolding or guilt.
Understand your Market
Tailor your messages and communications to appeal to your audience.
- Age demographics
- Single, married, with children
- Primary languages
- Pet owners
- Access to internet and e-mail
- Use fewer words and more pictures.
- Avoid boring communications – particularly those with lots of words and no colour.
- Use all available communication channels: postings in elevators, lobbies and mail rooms; e-mail, newsletters and e-newsletters; town hall meetings; website and internal condo communication systems.
- Reach – make sure your communications reach everyone by utilizing all communication channels.
- Frequency – Repeat messages so they are seen multiple times throughout the year. Frequency helps increase reach. For date specific notices one approach is to send one about a month in advance, another notice two weeks in advance, a third and different notice one week in advance and a daily notice starting three days in advance.
- Elevator users are a captive audience and the most effective way to reach residents. Tailor elevator communications so they can be read from afar and understood in less than five seconds.
- Be positive and nice. Avoid exclamation marks, large red text and “do not” notices all of which are more likely alienate readers than be remembered.
Results of communication can be measured in many ways. Count attendees at a promoted event. Measure annual energy use and compare against prior years. Review waste collection costs. Check with cleaning staff to determine if common areas are requiring less cleaning.