I recently returned from a vacation up in Washington near Seattle – it was a family re-union that involved my two brothers and sister along with our parents and also 3 of the grandkids. We had a great time and did a number of activities that required some amount of coordination amongst the 3 vehicles we had to transport everyone. Our adventures ranged from a fishing charter to a ferry ride up to Victoria, Canada and multiple trips to various state parks in the area.
The reason I bring this up, is that in addition to having a great time, I also made an observation that reinforces the changing way we all communicate. I have noted in various blog posts that as a society we have adopted an integrated method of communicating. This includes utilizing print, the internet, radio, television, phones, social media and more.
So, true to form, we as a family found ourselves using a variety of communication methods over the course of the week as well. We had all utilized the internet to first make our reservations – had these confirmed via e-mail, tracked the potential weather patterns via television and the internet, and phoned each other to confirm travel plans and departures. While on the ferry ride we were able to confirm exhibit locations via printed brochures and on several occasions referred to printed maps to find directions.
Another example of our communication though, was one that truly reinforces the changing times. On multiple occasions each of the siblings and our kids had utilized SMS text messages to each other in lieu of phone calls. Typically these were to either confirm schedules or to alert each other if we needed to purchase something for an upcoming meal. Short and direct, we found texting to be an efficient way to stay in touch with each other.
Now mind you, this form of communicating is common place with the youngest generation – the teens and early twenty year olds, so for our kids this is common place. But for each of the siblings, all of us between the ages of 48 and 56, one might not have expected this. Granted we are all computer literate and have some form of advanced phones – in fact more often than not we were checking e-mails on a regular basis, and yet none of us had planned this in advance as the way to stay in touch.
While this in itself is not “earth shattering,” it does speak to the trend of communication methods that are becoming more immediate and direct. E-mail messages are being simplified for use with mobile devices. Text messages are now designed to communicate with targeted audiences, not just one to one usage. This trend is not hard to figure when you consider that most of us have our phones with us for nearly 12 to 15 hours each day! Want to stay in touch or offer immediate marketing opportunities? Then start building mobile phone number lists just like you are currently building e-mail lists. Mobile marketing in the US is behind Europe and Asia already, but look for this to change in the coming years.
Sometimes it takes getting away from your business to recognize or reinforce trends that you have contemplated already. The confirmation seen through a “different set of glasses” though is a strong reminder of how our communication processes are changing.