Business continuity is a concept that must still be “marketed” and “sold” in many organisations in order to fully engage staff at all levels and embed business continuity thinking in day to day practices. The lack of awareness in some enterprises and the excessive self-confidence in others are proof that business continuity, just like detergent, cars and fruit juice, can benefit from some targeted advertising. However, for those BC managers who have never set foot on Madison Avenue or whatever its equivalent is in your country, the notion of communicating to a “market” may seem daunting. How does it work? Where should you start? And how long will it take to make a favourable impression?

While the scope of modern advertising is too vast to be covered here, applying a couple of its fundamental ideas may help while spreading the good word about business continuity. The first one is about the amount of times an average person must receive a message before internalising its contents or taking action in the way the message suggests. Any guesses? One answer from an advertising guru is that it takes twenty exposures to a message to make an impression like this. That’s something to think about when considering options to promote business continuity internally – it looks like posters and video clips and BC coffee mugs might be in order.

Positioning is another key concept. A company typically wants to be number one in the minds of the people in its target market. If a competitor already holds the number one “mind” spot, then it may be unwise to compete directly. Another possible strategy is to find a different positioning that works and become number one there. What has all this to do with BC? If you find that business continuity is competing for attention with, say, lean manufacturing in the minds of your colleagues,  you may get further by developing another positioning for BC (perhaps improved job security, or customer satisfaction and orders), rather than going head to head with a cost reduction message.