The Art of Consistency

Let’s talk for a second about consistency and its importance.

In fact, let’s frame the discussion with a quote from John Wooden: “Little Things Make Big Things Happen.”

First, what are the Big Things? Fairly obvious, right? In marketing and communications, they are: return on investment, impact, recollection, information broadcast, behavior change and, the holy grail — brand loyalty.

The small things? Easy. There’s one, we think, in this market: consistency.

Yes, strong content and dynamic design are crucial to the success of any marketing/communications effort, but in a world where one single message is overrun by 2,001 other messages in a matter of minutes, it’s the consistency that makes sure a message is seen, heard and read.

Let’s be clear here, this doesn’t mean buying time and space at ridiculously high levels. This doesn’t mean sending the same Tweet out five times a day for five days in a row. And, because we’re in this type of economy, it most definitely doesn’t mean expensive.

No, when we talk about consistency we’re talking about the dictionary definition: “harmony of conduct or practice with profession.”

To have the Big Things as outlined above, every single communications piece must be in harmony with the greater overall message on a consistent basis.

Our example is based on our experience with Williams-Sonoma, Inc., a company we have been working with since 1999.

connoiseur brochure

When we started working together, they needed a communications vehicle to better inform their associates of information from the corporate headquarters. That was their Big Thing.

To do that, one member of the Human Resources team was tasked with creating, writing, designing, printing and distributing a newsletter to the company’s employees. It was daunting. He didn’t have time. He had other responsibilities. The newsletter, then called Homefront, came out sporadically.

As a communications device, Homefront was failing.

So, our immediate responsibility was to align the staff’s need to communicate with the need for consistency.

It wasn’t a huge financial or time commitment on their part. It was a 10-minute phone call once per issue to hammer out the table of contents. It was 30 minutes of reading the content once it was supplied. And it was, maybe, 15 minutes of discussion about design and printing.

The first issue of Homefront was published in the fall of 1999 and was published quarterly until it morphed into a monthly newsletter published by the Store Operations team and renamed Connoisseur.

Over the past 11 years, one Little Thing – consistency – has given both the Human Resources and Store Operations teams a communications vehicle that has given them a Big Thing – harmony.

On a monthly basis (give or take), we produce a four-page newsletter sent out to Williams-Sonoma associates throughout the United States and Canada that communicates the same information about new products and best practices. We’ve also written stories that let all the associates know about the happenings at the annual General Managers’ Conference, about how one store is having successful bridal events and about the great social work being done by the associates in the Toronto store.

Without trying to break an arm patting ourselves on the back because the newsletter reads and looks great, we do believe the reason it works is that Williams-Sonoma as a company values it and has made a commitment to producing it consistently.

That’s a little thing that companies, whether you’re a Williams-Sonoma or a local mom-and-pop shop (because it is NOT expensive to produce these pieces), need to realize – in marketing/communications, consistency is the Little Thing that creates the Big Thing.

Be smart. Be consistent. Maximize the influence. Your clients will thank you and your ROI will skyrocket.

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