Guide to developing a communication plan from positioning to monitoring
Every entrepreneur knows this. Goals, deadlines and numbers must always be kept under control to grow a business.
Corporate communication included. For both internal and external communication, the premises are the same: a strategy is needed that takes into account objectives, positioning, budget, and audience.
Is it possible to develop a communication that considers all these factors? Of course, a communication plan is enough.
What Is The Communication Plan?
The communication plan is a document that presents the corporate communication strategy in a clear, rational and detailed way.
In practice, the document describes how it intends to develop its communication during the year to build a coherent and functional process.
This is possible only after a careful business analysis, preliminary to the communication plan.
How Is A Communication Plan Defined?
A proper communication plan must be developed in 4 main steps; let’s see them together.
The analysis phase is of vital importance; it is impossible to choose the right messages and means if the identity of your business, audience and objectives are not clear.
In other words, you need to clarify the company’s context.
In this phase, operational techniques have been applied that sound familiar to every entrepreneur but should never be taken for granted.
To analyze your business, it is essential:
- Define corporate identity: establish mission, vision, objectives and corporate values and tone of voice
- Identify the target audience: not only the buyer personas but also the stakeholders, i.e. all those who can influence the company’s reality
- Establish the positioning and then define where your company is located in the minds of your audience, even compared to the competition.
Another tool that can help you in this phase is the SWOT analysis, a tool used to outline all the elements, internal and external to the company, that can impact the business. It is achieved by inserting the company’s strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities or projects into a table.
Understanding what these elements are is fundamental to understanding what direction the business wants to take and, consequently, what tone of voice you need to use and what you need to communicate.
Writing A Communication Plan
After clearly defining the positioning and the corporate identity, it is time to draw up the actual communication plan. In this phase, the content of the project.
is precisely established :
What Are The Objectives Of Your Communication?
The communication objective must go hand in hand with the company objectives. Consistency
It is one of the prerogatives to be able to convey clear and compelling messages without confusing the public. Do you want to expand your business and increase brand awareness? Do you want to create engagement among those who already know you? Do you want to launch a product? Or do you want to achieve all these goals?
You are defining clearly the purposes of the communication services to make the content of your message explicit.
Who You Want To Talk To: Define Specific Targets Based On The Objectives
Your company’s target audience should be clear at this point. So ask yourself if you want to talk to everyone the same way, or do you prefer to address only the stakeholders or a particular buyer persona?
Even within a well-targeted audience, there may be different communication needs.
Before we talked about notoriety and loyalty, these goals have different audiences. If you want to increase awareness of your business, you will need to speak to a broader audience, while if you’re going to retain your current niche, you need to target a smaller number of people.
In short, each audience segment has its strategy.
Choose Carefully The Channels You Want To Use
After understanding what you want to communicate and to whom you want to communicate it, you have to know-how.
To convey your message, you have several options:
- Online channels
- Offline channels
- An integrated communication that includes both alternatives.
How can you figure out which one is right for you?
Ask yourself questions keeping the target audience in mind: do you spend a lot of time on social media? Do you love movies? Do you find out about the news or read the newspaper?
After finding the answers, you will be able to understand; for example, if you want to communicate your message, it is better to opt for an advertisement on social media, create an ad in a local newspaper or broadcast a commercial at the cinema.
Set The Time
Contrary to what one might think, communication is not an abstract activity that comes only from creativity and brilliant ideas. To communicate and spread messages clearly, one of the most important things is the organization.
Having good ideas without a precise and measured operational plan leads to confusing results. For this reason, when drafting your communication plan, you have to be very careful about the timing.
When do you intend to communicate the message? How long?
Getting the timing wrong in communicating is not exactly ideal. Moreover, understanding how long you want to keep your messages active is essential when defining costs.
Define The Costs
When planning your communication, you have to consider many factors:
- The team that helps you in the conception, development and implementation of the plan
- The means you use
- The tools you choose
- The timing you have defined.
Each of these points has its own cost. Thinking of launching a communication campaign without predicting how much capital it will need is unthinkable for a successful entrepreneur.
Defining the costs of communication is not only valuable for the planning phase, but it will be helpful to understand the return on investment at a later time.
Testing And Putting Into Practice
Well, at this point, the communication plan is drawn up; you have to put it into practice.
Before launching your campaign, it may be necessary to enter a pre-test phase. This precaution is especially useful when conveying messages that could harm the public’s sensitivity.
In this case, identifying a cluster, a small group of people, on which to test communication and discuss messages is the ideal solution.
If there are no contingencies, misunderstandings or need for revisions, you are ready to start with your specific communication.
Monitor The Results
You have completed the communication plan and launched your communication campaign, but your work is not done yet.
To understand if your communication has been effective and if the set goals have been achieved, it is necessary to establish metrics and analyze them.
Measuring online communication campaigns is not too complicated. If you have chosen to invest in a social movement, you can see the results directly from the business management platform.
Even offline communication channels, albeit not instantaneously, can be measured. If you have chosen to publish an advertisement in the local newspaper, look for information on the number of copies sold.
Whatever the channels chosen and the metrics identified, the comparison of the data is necessary to understand if the direction taken is the right one or if it is needed to make some changes.
In summary: conceiving, planning, implementing and measuring are the fundamental steps for drafting an effective strategy.
Identify your buyer personas, develop your messages and choose your communication channels. Everything must be visible, in black and white, in the communication plan of your business.
A reasoned, clear, and well-planned communication is what you need to impress your buyer personas.