Whether you like it or not all companies communicate. Therefore, the best recommendation we can do about this issue is to plan your communication.
However it is not my objective here to show how to make a good communication plan. I’m much more interested in presenting the key questions that any businessman should ask before launching a communication plan.
These questions are in fact pure common sense: a very simple check-list that will help you to focus your plan, align it with the corporate strategy and improve its effectiveness.
What business goal do you want to serve with the communication plan? Do you want to sell more? To improve the customer satisfaction index? To engage the staff with your business strategy?
What is your target audience? Once you have answered the previous question about the business goal you want to achieve, it is time to determine which audiences are most important for your communication plan. Customers, prospects, employees, shareholders, partners, suppliers, government, NGOs, etc. can be your target audiences. You can develop a plan for several groups at once, but you have to make sure that you adapt the message and choose the right channel for each one.
What’s the key message you want to transmit to your audience? To be effective, it must be concrete and relevant to those who will receive it. In fact, it is the only way you have to compete with the thousands of corporate messages that every single day impact on any average person through ads, social media, etc.
What communication channels are appropriate for your purposes? Put another way: what communication tools are you going to use? To make a good decision it is important to bear in mind two fundamental things: the audience you want to impact and the message you want to deliver. For example, if you have a very innovative and interesting message for a very huge audience, you should probably choose a press conference (press is always eager of this type of contents). But if you want to deliver a commercial message to a very specific audience your best option could be an advertising campaign in the local media (from an ad on an industrial estate services directory to a local radio station). If you want to strengthen your relationship with your key customers, your best option could be to make an event. As you can see, there are many alternatives: it is just about choosing the most suitable for your purpose.
What’s your budget? Although there are many possibilities to develop communication activities with no budget (for example, through social media networks), usually you are expected to make some investment. This should be proportional to the estimated ROI. But remember: sometimes imagination can be much more valuable than money (a good low-cost viral marketing campaign can work miracles!)
How are you going to measure the ROI of your communication plan? It is essential to answer to this question before launching the plan. You can measure it in terms of sales increase, brand awareness, new business leads, etc. If the answer is obvious for you, you will probably build a very good plan. If not, then you have many chances for make a big mistake.
Do you have the skills to carry out this communication plan? Many communication tools require specialized staff that is not normally available in a small business. In such case, it is important to draw on an agency to assist you in the design of the plan and in its execution. To do that you obviously need some budget.