Close this search box.
Close this search box.

How to Overcome the Urge to Overcommunicate

Companies must take care not to overcommunicate when speaking with customers—something that's pretty easy to do in this media-sensational world.

GettyImages-109350684-compressorFor a good half-century, companies had well-defined ways of communicating with consumers, B2B customers, employees and shareholders. For marketing, there were television, radio and print advertising. Employees got newsletters. Investors received quarterly reports.

But the digital era has exploded the number of alternatives for marketing and internal communications, which now include email, blogs and an alphabet soup of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. What’s more, every utterance can be put out there in real time. It’s now possible to pepper business constituencies with messages continuously.

This has created tremendous opportunity but also a new problem: Companies now can—and do—over-communicate. They overwhelm target audiences with a plethora of messages. At the same time, they risk seeing crucial communications get lost in the clutter. A growing number of C-suites are not only aware of this danger but also are doing something about it.

“One of the single biggest fears we have is to overextend our welcome,” says Ram Krishnan, who was CMO of Frito-Lay before a recent promotion charged him with handling all of PepsiCo’s business with Walmart. “Digital enables one-on-one real-time conversation, but consumers don’t want to talk with you every waking minute of every waking hour. The last thing you want is for people to opt out of your brand because you interrupt their lives. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should do it.”

In fact, commanding the new techniques and integrating them into an overall philosophy of marketing and communications may be the most important thing business leaders can do with
digital technology these days.

“I have to consciously think about what the right level of depth is, and as the company has grown I’ve had to adjust my style. Sometimes less of the right communications is actually more.”

The proliferation and power of digital channels alone dictate that C-suite executives adopt a revolutionary new form of strategic communications rather than regard new media as merely evolutionary. And making judicious use of the new capabilities is a crucial part of succeeding with them.

When it comes to consumers, the threat of over-communicating with them “keeps me awake every night,” confesses Raja Rajamannar, CMO of MasterCard. So the financial-services brand takes a three-pronged approach to ensuring that MasterCard doesn’t realize his worst fears.

First, Rajamannar says, every piece of communication by the brand “has to be about the consumer and what is most interesting or relevant for them—something that touches their passions—otherwise we get lost in the background noise.”

Second, he notes, MasterCard takes advantage of the precise targeting that is made possible by social media to “really only push content to [consumers] that matters to them and resonates with them.” Third, MasterCard’s philosophy is to communicate economically as well as continuously, given that every day creates the opportunity to make fresh marketing outlays to demonstrate the brand’s relevance to some new development in culture or the news. “How do you stay top of mind?” Rajamannar asks. “You have to do it continuously and constantly, staying relevant while also economic.”
Key Takeaways Buss


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.