Brand promotion is based, in the first place, on working with the target audience, the effectiveness of which largely depends on the well-thought communication strategy. Development of an effective system of interaction, using both verbal and non-verbal communication, allows delivering the necessary information to the consumer in a timely and efficient manner.
So what is communications strategy?
A communication strategy is a detailed plan that outlines a company's target audience and the messages they need to receive to drive desired business results.
Сommunication strategy types
Communication strategies can be visual, verbal, non-verbal, or mixed.
Visual communication strategies consist of web pages, pictorial interpretations, and everything that can help a speaker remember important topics, give the recipient something to look at, etc.
Verbal communication strategies. This type of communications can be broken down into written and oral communication. Email, traditional handwritten documents, SMS, and chat belong to the first category. The effectiveness of written communication may depend on vocabulary, grammar, clarity, and the writing style. Phone calls, video chats, face-to-face conversations belong to the oral communication category.
Despite advances in technology, it remains one of the most successful forms of communication.
Non-verbal communication strategies include facial expressions, eye contact, body language, the physical distance between the interlocutors, or voice tone. You probably already noticed that the proper use of non-verbal signals can create trust and transparency between you, your colleagues, and customers.
Mixed communication strategy is a combination of multiple forms of communication to get proper results.
Popular kinds of communication strategy
- Communication strategy for an organization or business;
- Communication strategy for municipalities;
- Communication strategy for NGOs;
- Communication strategy for stakeholders;
- Communication strategy for marketing.
3 phases of creating a communications strategy
In a highly competitive markets where the fight for consumers' attention is tough, it is crucial to stand out from the crowd to achieve success. Therefore, developing a compelling communications strategy is a “must have” for every entrepreneur. So here we outline the three essential phases of building a strong communications strategy.
Phase #1 - preparing
Do research and collect information
Research is an essential component of a well-planned communications strategy, so try to get and analyze as much information as possible. Monitor all current events and trends affecting your industry, keep an eye on posts and discussions on social networks pages used by your target audience, conduct surveys.
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What are your company's communication strengths and weaknesses? Where are your biggest opportunities to make communication better in the future?
Sum up your expenses and incomes
A budget is a critical part of any business strategy. Here are some examples of costs to consider: video & audio production and editing, printing & design costs, car rentals to attend the event, etc.
Phase #2 - creating
Confirm your mission and goal
Your mission statement is the ultimate goal that your organization wants to fulfill for your customers. Write what services your business provides, and think how your communications strategy should benefit this goal. If you don’t have your mission statement yet, try using this simple template: “Our company exists to provide people with (benefit), (benefit), and (benefit) through (product/service).” For example, Newoldstamp's goal is to make communication by email more personal and alive.
Build a strategic framework
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The communication strategy framework defines each of the groups you need to influence and describes the relationship you want to develop with them. For example, your team members and prospective employees should feel that your company is a great place to work. Current and prospective clients should believe your products and services meet their needs. Partners should understand that working with you is beneficial for their business. And investors should be confident that your organization is well-managed and has a very good development perspective in the future.
The next logical step is to research your target audience. These are the people your company is trying to reach. Use Google Analytics to learn more about your website visitors, investigate social media followers of your competitors, survey your current customers. Then segment the audience.
Create messages and content
Once you know your audience well, you can start creating messages that connect with them. When creating the content, ask yourself what you want people to know, think and do.
Build your presence on social networks. Here are some useful facts about the most popular platforms: #1 Facebook sends more site referral traffic than any other social media platform. #2 Instagram isn’t the best choice for driving blog and website traffic; however, it is great tool for a strong visual brand. #3 Twitter is an optimal choice for those who mostly share blog posts and promote website content. #4 LinkedIn is well-suited for sharing industry articles and general professional content. #5 Pinterest is an excellent place to look for inspiration for projects.
Run target email campaigns
When you send the relevant email to the right recipient at the right time, it may even not feel like marketing. Rather than sending the same message to your entire list, be sure to send only targeted emails that people can’t ignore. The best way to connect with supporters is to personalize your email campaigns. Note that a well-designed professional email signature can add value to your emails and improve your overall results.
If you want to create an email signature and personalize your emails click here
Visit conferences, launch events, public speeches, etc.
Speak with your customers
Use website chats, email, contact forms to deliver value and to know your audience better.
Create your strategy map or strategic graphic model.
A strategy map is a one-page graphic portrait of your company's strategy. This map will help you and your team to capture, communicate, and manage your plan better.
Decide when you will need to communicate over the next six, twelve, etc. months. List the key dates and describe each key event or activity that will require communications (incl. launch of a report, forum, conference, etc.).
Phase #3 - testing and using in practice
What’s next? Once you have created your communications strategy – you need to start the process of engaging your organization. Remember that the strategy is for everybody in your team!
Don’t fall into the trap of doing an excellent job of communicating at the very beginning. It is essential to choose your method for measuring the results of your plan. Analyze website visitors, messages in social media, use feedback forms, etc. You might consider answering the following questions: Have my audience received my message? When and how my audience access the information? Have the recipients took the desired action? How can I improve my communications? Systematic success monitoring will allow you to detect your weak points and change communication strategy accordingly.
Communication strategy examples
So let’s try to put all we have learned into a template.
Phase #1 - Research
- Identify your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities;
- Perform surveys among your key audiences;
- Learn lessons from competitors’ experiences;
- Estimate your expenses.
Phase #2 - Creating
- Define where you’re now and where you’d like to go;
- Confirm your mission statement and goals;
- Choose and categorize your audiences;
- Think about content (What do you want people to know, think and do?);
- Select the most appropriate communication channels (social media, email, events);
- Draw a graphic map that depicts your communication strategy elements;
- Make a timeline according to your planned key activities.
Phase #3 - Testing and using in practice
- Distribute the plan throughout the organization;
- Identify means of evaluation.
Bonus: 10 Best Communication Strategy books
#1 “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” by Al Ries & Jack Trout
#2 “The Startup Owner’s Manual” by Steve Blank & Bob Dorf
#3 “The Essential Drucker” by Peter F. Drucker
#4 “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek
#5 “Words Can Change Your Brain” by Andrew Newberg & Mark R. Waldman
#6 “Brand Media Strategy: Integrated Communications Planning in the Digital Era” by Antony Young.
#7 “Crisis Communications: The Definitive Guide to Managing the Message” by Steven Fink.
#8 “Advising Upwards,” Lynda Bourne, Gower 2011
#9 “Strategy-In-Action: Marrying Planning, People and Performance” by Thomas D. Zweifel.
#10 “Communicating Risks,” Stig A. Nohrstedt, Nordicom 2011
Communication is what brings people together. And the same applies to people and brands. If customers enjoy the way you communicate with them, chances are it will result in more sales and more revenue for you. Today, there are so many various media and communication channels that your business can easily get lost in the noise. That is why you need a well-conceived communication strategy plan to catch your audience’s attention. Now when you have everything you need to create your brand communication strategy, go ahead and do it!