Often we meet with potential clients who want us to hit the ground running with a raft of proposals, ideas and activities without conducting research to inform a strategy. It’s not the way we work and we advise conducting effective, even if sometimes simple research, to inform the decision making process and strategy to achieve business goals.
1. A communication plan is your road map
Creating a communication plan based on the research at hand or one that includes an element of research to be undertaken as part of the process provides a reference document and a guide for where you’re going, what you want to achieve and who’s going to do what.
2. Understanding the lay of the land
It’s said if you don’t know where you are, how will you ever get to where you’re going, let alone recognise the promised land when you get there. Doing a situation analysis through a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) matrix will usually highlight aspects of the business that you are aware of but holding them up together provides a new lens, one that puts a solution next to any limitations that might be considered negative on their own.
3. Speak to the right people
Whatever your plan, not everyone is going to be included in your target audience, a plan gives you an opportunity to segment (break down) your audience into groups and determine who you’re talking to and/or trying to influence. This is a critical step in the planning process and one that we often hear is a difficult activity for clients to get their heads around at times.
4. Speak in their language
Once you know who you’re targeting you can develop messages that speak directly to each target audience. It’s about understanding your market, what’s important to the people within it, how they consume information and what drives them.
5. Know what you want to achieve
When you target each audience group, your objectives will vary depending on who they are and what you want them to do. For instance, for one audience you might want to increase the awareness of your product or service and for another you might want to shift their perception on an issue. Both awareness and changing attitudes come before changing behaviour, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
6. Continuous learning
What were the outcomes you wanted to achieve and did you get there? If you don’t put pen to paper and outline all of the above much of your hard work gets lost in the ether. Within the digital landscape everything is measurable. Building in all the measures into your communication strategy before you start the campaign or project ensures everyone knows what’s expected, as well as their responsibilities in achieving the outcomes.
Plans guide us. And, you can guarantee things will change along the way. We suggest revisiting your plan often and then adapt, measure and refine as you go.