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Everyone knows the funny-yet-true Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

But have you ever heard of “Wiio’s Laws”? They are from Finnish author and communications professor Osmo Wiio.

In the late 1970s, Wiio was elected to his country’s parliament where he served for four years. Not surprisingly, it was during this stint as a politician that he formulated his theories on why “communication usually fails except by accident.”

While we think there is wisdom (and some humor) found in all of Wiio’s laws, the one we always remind ourselves (and sometimes, our clients) is this:

“If you are content with your message,
it will surely fail.”


Communication is always between human beings, even when, as marketers, we may think it’s between companies and audiences.

When you fall in love with how you’ve crafted a message, you know only one thing: You’ve successfully created a message that is intended for yourself. Unless the audience is composed of people exactly like you, you should re-think the approach.

While Wiio was speaking to his fellow members of Parlaiment, he’s also speaking to executives sitting around a conference table, or the company lawyer sitting at a desk, or countless layers of creative and editorial collaborators.

Marketing communication fails when you craft your message to please someone other than the person for whom it is intended.

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