Interpersonal Intelligence model applied to marketing, design and visual communications
I have found that applying Interpersonal Intelligence to my work as a creative, consistently delivers better results and greater impact. Let me explain how and why.
It began with my client SGA, a leader in the field of developing c-suite sales capabilities. They commissioned me to refresh their brand and develop a new website for them. In order to experience their work firsthand, they invited me to attend their annual leadership workshop.
My first introduction was to Interpersonal Style
The leadership workshop was brilliant! I was blown away. I discovered so much about myself, my strengths, my weaknesses how others saw the experience of working with me. At the same time I learned equally much about the others attendees. If you haven’t tried it, using an interpersonal style model to understand yourself and others on a deeper level, and to inform how you interact with others is liberating. It completely changed me.
I returned home inspired and itching to apply my knew knowledge. The first thing I worked on was a digital tool. An app. Something that SGA’s clients could keep with them and update as needed. An extension that adds a layer of valuable insight to their contacts llist. Eventually this would be something that SGA would replace their handouts with at the end of the workshop.
The benefits of diversity – How my work influences and informs
Around that time I was working with two intelligence clients; a Cyber Security company run by a former CIA director of security and Culture Republic, a Scottish audience data, research and intelligence organization for the Arts and Culture sector. Their work inspired me to rename SGA’s methodology “Interpersonal Intelligence” because, what SGA delivered was actionable. It wasn’t just data or information. It was what to do with it. They had developed tools to help you use it, mechanisms of how to apply it. They had shifted it to intelligence. Actionable insight.
Interpersonal Intelligence applied to Design
For me, I wanted to see if I could apply this new intelligence in a practical sense to my work. I wanted to explore whether this could impact the effectiveness of my work. So, from then on, when a client told me they need a certain outcome, I would consider the means of achieving it from four different directions. As a designer, and similarly marketing, advertising and public relations, knowing your audience is the most important thing. You can’t possibly communicate an idea to someone if you don’t know who they are. However, if the science of interpersonal style is true, then that knowledge isn’t enough. What matters more is how you are communicating with them. In the same way language works, you might know everything about someone, but if you don’t use the language they speak – it doesn’t matter. They will never understand you. Interpersonal style is similar to language that way. If you don’t communicate in the way they like—they won’t want to understand you.
For marketing, I saw interpersonal style model as a further layer that one would add after the audience profile and buying personas were established. Interpersonal intelligence would be applied after the target market is fully identified. In other words, you would now know that your audience (however clearly defined they were) would still fall into four groups. And, that those four groups need to be communicated to in very different ways. Whether this is through a single piece of collateral or across multiple different media.
The difference between one-to-one interactions and remote communications is that you will never meet face to face and you cannot change or adapt on the spot. You will never know what style they are so you must build in all four into your communications strategy.
There are four main interpersonal styles. Different institutions use different names, I will use the ones SGA uses. Drivers, Expressives, Analytics and Amiables. You can be one with a hint of the others, but in relation to design and communications that’s not going to matter. The important thing to understand is that whomever your audience is made up of, whether its a group of CEOs or a bunch of teenagers you have to assume that all four types are present. Each type responds to a communication delivered in a particular way. Sometimes the styles are similar and sometimes they are opposite. e.g. either fast or slow, detailed or summarized, dazzling or down to earth, results orientated, brief and to-the-point or measured, detailed and supported with evidence and so on. I have developed my own little rubric that I use. You can create yours.
Start to think about the how you would communicate an idea or an initiative to each of the four types. How would this new understanding change what you do and how you do it?
For an example of this theory applied to my work, you can visit suite.com, SGA’s new website. Starting with the animated header and moving throughout the site, it considers the four groups. In words, in color, in graphics and in content throughout the site.