If you’re like us at team Scriba, you’ll get a real kick out of strategy. There’s nothing better than mapping out an effective, killer plan that gets your brand noticed where you want it to. We absolutely love planning here and – after reading this – we hope you will too!
Before you worry about how long it takes to turn around a communications document, it’s important to understand that it won’t be an overnight success – it takes time.
Why? Because it requires constant nurture and development, in order to maximise messaging. A well-worked plan is crucial in how you speak to customers and prospects, and can help towards achieving that vital piece of coverage in your favourite trade publication.
It’s also worth noting that not every roadmap – whether for internal use, retained clients or new business – takes the same direction. So, it’s important that you research beforehand to clearly understand what elements to focus on. So, with that said, take a look at my 5 ways to create a killer communications plan right here!
- Get your audit in place
Now, on first glance, this might not sound the most exciting thing in the world – but it’s one of the most important phases.
This is where you get to conduct your ‘situation analysis’ or SWOT – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – and is the crux of where your research baby begins to take its adorable first steps.
Don’t overlook this part either, especially as you’ve only just got started! Grab yourself a cuppa and use this valuable opportunity to really hone in on the key details you actually need.
Gather information in several forms – for example use surveys for market research, measure social media and web traffic, conduct internal brainstorming sessions, and analyse your organisation’s current crop of outgoing messages.
It’s a crucial step in gaining all of the content to create your plan’s structure and truly get a feel for the communications you want to get out there.
- Underline your objectives
If you’re cut from the same cloth, this bit will really get you going. It’s the part after the initial research, and a real chance to outline how your strategy will achieve your targets.
Be realistic here (i.e. don’t say you want to get 45,000,000 new business leads from one piece of coverage because – although that would be remarkable – it’s still highly ridiculous), and make sure your key aims are results-driven so they’re SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-focused.
- Know your audience
Picture yourself as a talk show host with your targets embedded in the crowd eager to connect with you – who do you want to offer the microphone to? In other words, who is your ideal market to generate ROI for your business?
Analyse your internal set-up first – note down the bread and butter of the firm (your employees and non-execs etc), and then think about further key targets such as stakeholders, external partners and media outlets you want to engage with.
Promise me one thing here too, that you won’t – under any circumstances – neglect your objectives. Although you’re one step further in this process, it’s critical that you keep referring back to your main aims so that you have the best chance of achieving the greatest results.
You’re nearly there with your communications strategy at this point now, so stay with me – two more pointers to go!
- The execution
Okay, so this sounds rather dramatic but I want to reassure you that this particular sub-header isn’t the latest Francis Ford Coppola blockbuster hit – although it is where you get to make your plan an offer the audience can’t refuse?! (apologies)
Ahem, anyway, this stage is the fruits of your labour because it’s where your research gathering comes into its own. And, sticking with the food theme, it’s the meat on the bones in how, and when, you convey the right messages to your ideal target market.
Many strategies also include exactly what format the communications will take. For example, is it PR activity you want to focus on? Social media posting? Videos? Blogs? Email marketing? Or, quite simply, everything?
As long as it’s clearly defined (I’d recommend timetabling), and you’re speaking to your brand’s audience in their preferred methods – go ahead – map it out and execute, Mario Puzo! (…have my references to The Godfather worked?!)
Nobody likes to see hard work go to waste – and it’s pretty pointless if nothing is measured on the back of all your tireless activity, right?
Well, to complete your communications jigsaw puzzle, make sure you factor in the time to compare results to the original goals set.
Whether you measure that activity through weekly, monthly or annual reports, and/or by analysing social and web traffic, this is a great moment to look into what’s working well (yippee), and what has ventured into the media abyss (boo, hiss!)
Don’t be disheartened if things haven’t gone quite how you thought they might either, if anything, it can help you hone your roadmap even further and tweak accordingly – to achieve better results in future.
So, there you have it, my basic steps to help shape your plan – have they helped at all? Hope so!
Overall, it’s important to remember that – exactly like that shirt I bought online the other day – one size doesn’t fit all (sadly). Keep relevant, maintain a flexible approach, and invite feedback from employees and clients to shape your document.
This is a fun part of your business growth, so reflect that in the attention you give. Try things out, maybe push some boundaries (to a point, mind you), and don’t let the strategy stagnate.