Small Business Communication & Newton’s 1st Law | Up and to the Right | Episode 051

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Small Business Communication | Newton's 1st Law

Everything we need to know about small business communication... Newton knew in 1686!? Really?

An object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.
An object in motion tends to stay in motion in the same direction unless acted on by an outside force.

If these trends sound familiar ...
A customer who is happy tends to stay a customer unless there's a sale at a competitor.
A rock star employee tends to stay a rock star unless we eliminate performance bonuses.

You get the idea. There are advantages to thinking about business from the perspective of physics.

Let's get... mechanical!

You’ll find highlights below. Watch the livestream recording or listen to the podcast version on your favorite podcatcher for all the details!

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What did Newton Know about Small Business Communication?

An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion in the same direction unless either is acted upon by an outside force.

I know that’s not an exact quote but the basic idea is sound.

It really comes down to the fact that a change in state or action requires an external motivation.

This is every bit as true in business and pretty well sums up all of our business communications.

We either want to:

  • Influence someone to continue a motion (trend, behavior). Marketing
  • Influence someone to be comfortable with inaction. Public Relations
  • Influence someone to new action. Advertising, Delegation

Using Common Frameworks to Simplify Small Business

Business is complicated. Or, more accurately, we MAKE business complicated.

By using familiar frameworks (like Newton’s Laws of Motion) we can get down to the core of a business principle and remove the complexity.

We’re still going to have the complexity of implementation but we’ll be starting from a more well-grounded place.

This allows us to make sure our message is clear and accurately reflects our intended impact.

Then we can complicate it with fonts, colors, styles, graphics, print, PPC ads, websites, videos, social media, and whatever TikTok is.

The Purpose of Business Communication

Business communication has a single purpose and that is to influence an audience to a specific action (or inaction).

I know, there are entire books on business communication and they’re helpful when you’re looking at ‘how’.

Today though, we’re going to stay focused on ‘what’ and it’s that easy.

Newton and the Level of Contentment

In order to explore communication in the context of Newton’s 1st Law of Motion we’ll need to make a few, shall we say… adjustments.

The Variables (no this is not a band from the ’90s)

Let’s replace some variables.

Object = Audience (person or group)

Motion = Action

Force = Communication

So, ‘communication’ is the ‘force’ we use to change the level of contentment that our audience has which inspires them to the desired action.

On the surface this seems like a manipulative behavior and, to be fair, it’s often used that way. Recognizing that risk we can still use communication as a force for good.

Improving people’s quality of life.

  • Providing healthcare
  • Offering beneficial services
  • Reducing environmental impact
  • Improving our local, national, and global economies

These and countless other examples of positive impact provided by businesses are all around us.

Marketing

Small business communication in marketing means creating awareness of a product or service.

In relation to Newton, we use the ‘force’ of communication to create awareness of our products and services and the impact they will have on our audience.

The difference between that impact and our customer’s status quo is where we begin to alter their comfort level. 

Natural soap doesn’t use detergents and is better for you and the planet. That’s a win/win, right? If you’re using ‘regular’ soap you sense a change in your contentment level with that product as an alternative becomes available to you.

This is not an advertisement for soap or an endorsement of any specific product (but that guy IS really funny).

Awareness of an outcome we haven’t achieved results in a change in the level of contentment we have with our status quo (when we value that outcome).

Advertising

Advertising takes small business communication and targets more specific outcomes. In business, you’ll hear the term ‘call to action’ which is nothing more than the creation of a targeted change in your contentment that is sufficient to inspire a change in behavior. 

As successful as advertising may seem from the outside one reason you see so much of it is that inspiring consistent behavioral change in humans is quite difficult.

Public Relations (PR)

Damage Control, or ‘Public Relations’ as it commonly referred to…

Okay, I’m being a little harsh here probably. PR is used to provide an audience with a positive image of a company. By publishing positive news that doesn’t directly relate to shipping product or providing service makes customers (and investors) feel good about being associated with a specific brand.

Of course, PR also falls into the category of damage control. If a company ends up on the wrong side of public opinion then it’s time for the PR team to come up with something to settle our nerves.

Most of the time this will mean slowing down the momentum in the ‘wrong’ direction.

  • “It’s okay we fixed it. Life is normal now.”
  • “It’s okay we’re going to fix it.” Life is normal now.”
  • “It’s okay it didn’t actually happen. Life is normal now.”
  • “It’s okay it was an isolated incident. Life is normal now.”

This kind of communication is designed to comfort and sate us to reduce or eliminate our level of discontent so we’ll continue purchasing goods, services, or stock.

Empowering Employees

Leadership and delegation are no exception to the relationship between small business communication and Newton’s 1st Law.

Ourselves and our teams will act according to our own level of contentment within the context of our work environment.

As business owners, we’re usually pretty discontented with the status quo or we wouldn’t have become entrepreneurs in the first place.

That doesn’t mean we don’t get behaviorally stuck. Authentic 360-degree communication within a small business allows us to help our teams become more effective in achieving success for the business as well as providing feedback to business owners in cases where they may need a nudge (it happens :) ).

Practical Action

Start your business communication projects from the simplest place you can.

Who’s contentment are you trying to shift?

What’s the action you expect from them?

Use the “force” (sorry… had to do it) of communication to convey a meaningful message that inspires a change in behavior.

Yup, Newton had it all nailed down in 1686.

Okay, now you can complicate it with fonts, colors, styles, graphics, print, PPC ads, websites, videos, social media, and whatever TikTok is.

Additional Resources

Don't just take my word for it...

Definitions of Marketing

https://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/advertising

https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwynne/2016/01/21/five-things-everyone-should-know-about-public-relations/?sh=1492faa22a2c

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/managingorganizationalcommunication.aspx

https://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/newtlaws/Lesson-1/Newton-s-First-Law


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