As a small business owner, the art of wearing many hats comes with the territory. Each task, including communication, can become a herculean task. That’s why having a communication strategy is non-negotiable. It aids in broadcasting your message to potential customers and clients effectively. In this piece, we’ll navigate you through the five pillars of a strategic communication plan: establishing your goals, articulating your message, identifying your target audience, choosing the right communication channels, and evaluating your success.
1. Setting Your Aims
Before you pen your first message or zero in on a communication channel, clarity on your communication strategy’s goals is vital. These objectives should be specific, quantifiable, and aligned with your overall business goals, especially when your team is small and resources are tight.
Take for instance, an entrepreneurial client we worked with looking to gain funding in a Series B round. We worked with them to articulate a clear objective – to highlight the strengths of the startup through communications that would net them their next millions in funding. Everything we did was guided by that clear goal, and it allowed us to monitor their progress, adjusting the strategy as needed.
2. Crafting Your Message
Now that your end game is clear, it’s time to formulate your message. This “story” of what you offer should resonate with your target audience, articulating the distinct value your product or service provides. A productive way to create an impactful message is to understand your customers’ challenges and demonstrate how your offering alleviates them. Why do they need you? Try to encapsulate this in a crisp and powerful statement, emphasizing your unique selling proposition.
Audience is everything. To ensure your communication strategy hits the mark, you must know who you’re aiming at.
3. Identifying Your Audience
Audience is everything. To ensure your communication strategy hits the mark, you must know who you’re aiming at. You need to “define your audience.” This could be based on various parameters – from demographics and industry to geographical location and psychographic interests. Make sure you know as much as you can about your audience’s preferred mode of communication. If they are frequent social media users, for example, a strong social media strategy could be your winning move. Believe it or not, sometimes you may even need to go analog.
4. Choosing Your Communication Avenues
With your objectives, message, and audience in focus, it’s time to select the most suitable channels for delivering your message. The options are plentiful – emails, social media, print ads, TV spots, and more. Your target should be channels that efficiently reach your audience. Feel free to experiment and find the most effective platforms for your unique needs.
As a consulting firm, we once worked with a large multinational client with high employee turnover and no company email addresses for associates. So, we designed a strategic approach that included both direct mailers and digital signage in the (very popular) breakrooms on worksites.
5. Track Your Impact
To close the loop, you need to track the performance of your communication strategy. This data will help you identify the successful channels and those needing tweaks. Ensure the metrics you track align with your primary goals – this could range from website traffic and lead generation to sales numbers. Utilize this information to fine-tune your approach, thus enhancing your communication strategy continuously.
For small businesses, communication planning is more than just a useful tool – it’s an essential ingredient for success. Your operations are too lean to take communications strategy for granted. By delineating your goals, tailoring your message, pinpointing your target audience, selecting the appropriate channels, and evaluating your accomplishments, you can construct a communication strategy that effectively engages prospective customers and clients. Though it may require substantial time and effort, the reward – enhanced engagement, increased sales, and elevated brand recognition – is a valuable asset for any growing business.