Effective Marketing and Autism: More In Common Than You’d Think

At its heart, marketing is about communication. Autism, too, is about communication. But not just any communication. Because those around us with autism have enormous challenges with expressive and receptive language. So when you’re communicating with an individual with autism, it’s best to have a particular sense of focus and purpose. In fact, many of the lessons we can learn from those challenges would serve us well as marketers in any setting.

1. Don’t use 20 words where five will do. We marketers love to embellish. But often a concept distilled down to its essence is the most effective message. Concentrate on your core idea and articulate it as simply and directly as you can. Your audience will appreciate you for it.

2. Be demonstrative. Remember that everyone learns and communicates in different ways. Sometimes words are more effective when they are accompanied by a clarifying visual. It’s a tactic for doubling the power of your message without just saying the same thing twice.

3. Make sure your audience gets it. Just because you understand your message doesn’t mean your audience automatically does. Though some marketing is one-way in its nature, some (like social media marketing) allow for direct feedback. That way we can be sure the message we intended was the message received. Use every means at your disposal, but be sure your audience gets it.

4. Think the way your audience thinks. This is related to the previous point, but also goes to the core of all effective marketing. There are plenty of clever, well executed marketing messages that fail because the target of the message could not relate to it. As I said in my post about marketing myths, our client and our targets are most often not the same. And in our zeal to please our client, we often forget to think like our customer.

5. Pick your battles and decide what matters. I also made this point in my post about marketing myths. We tend to think that, while we have our target’s attention, we need to tell them everything. So instead of taking away a message with substance that has meaning to them, they are confused and disengaged because we bombarded them instead of talking to them. Deciding what is important and what is noise is crucial. And communicating that is perhaps the biggest key to communicating effectively.

During Autism Awareness Month, I encourage you to reach out to someone on the autism spectrum and really communicate with them. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you get back. But it will definitely challenge you and sharpen your skills as a marketer. And whatever the outcome, be grateful for your gift. And for theirs.



Filed under Advertising & Marketing, Autism, Marketing best practices

2 responses to “Effective Marketing and Autism: More In Common Than You’d Think

  1. Thank you for this entry! As the mom of a child with autism, one who has verbal skills, I have to often remind people that speech does not equal communication. Communication is so much more, and few actually give our kids a chance to communicate back-and-forth. I wish more people would realize the value of your five tips!

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts as well. I know that my son, who just turned 12, has sharpened my communication skills. I have to really think about what I’m saying in order for him to understand. But I think that’s good advice for anyone trying to reach an audience. Glad we connected on this issue!

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