To be the man, you have to get a plan. The first time I heard this quote was in a movie I saw a few years ago. A young boy said this as he strategized on how to achieve his goal.
This quote is a fact. If you want to excel at anything, you first need to have a plan in place to guide your steps and help you know if you are making progress or not.
In Communicating with your audience, you need to have a communications plan to guide your efforts and help you ensure that your goals are met. This article will be presenting you with a step-by-step guide on how to create an effective communications plan for your organization.
However before we delve into the process, let’s define the term Communications Plan.
What is A Communication Plan?
Coshedule.com defines it as an end-to-end plan for delivering strategic messages to key audiences in order to drive positive business outcomes. Visit www.coschedule.com/blog/communications-plan-template/, for more details.
A communications plan helps you to effectively deliver information to yourtarget audience. The plan will identify the following:
- The messages you need to promote.
- To whom you are targeting those messages
- The channels through which you will deliver these messages.
A Communications plan can come in handy at various times. They can be used when launching new products, starting a new initiative, or managing crises.
Benefits of a Communication Plan
One of the benefits of a Communications Plan according to blog.hubspot.com, is that they can help you clarify the purpose of a product launch or new initiative and officially determine the messages you want to deliver to your intended audience(s).
A Communications Plan can also help an organization identify the most appropriate way to communicate with its audience in times of crisis. If an organization does not have a communications plan in place, it will be more difficult for them to respond during times of crisis.
Finally, having a Communications Plan will generally give direction to an organization’s communications effort, making it more organized and productive. Therefore, it is necessary for an organization to have a Communications Plan.
How to Create a Communications Plan
To build an effective Communications Plan, follow these steps:
- Develop a Brand Statement.
- Identify your unique selling proposition.
- Identify or set Your Business Objectives.
- Identify your target audience.
- Understand Other Key Publics, Too
- Decide your message.
- Choose Your Channels.
- Plan a Messaging Matrix.
- Determine Your Important Events and Campaign Plans.
- Set Your Communications Goals.
- Plan Content Calendar.
- Measure Your Impact
Develop a Brand Statement
The first step to developing an effective Communication Plan is to develop a brand statement. According to namecheap.com, a brand statement is a concise summary of what your business does, how you do it, and what makes it unique.
Although brand statements usually comprise of single or few sentences, they capture the essence of an organization, and what sets it apart from others in its industry.
A brand statement provides direction for the Communication Plan of your organization. It helps you identify who your audience is, and then how best to reach them. This makes it necessary to first identify your brand statement, as you attempt to develop a Communications Plan.
A quick example of a brand statement:
- Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
Identify your unique selling proposition
Another key step in designing a communications plan is identifying your unique selling point. According to marketingdonut.co.uk, a unique selling point is what makes your business and its products/services unique in its industry.
It is what you offer that no one else does in your market – whether it is higher quality, a lower price, a better customer experience or new technological innovation.
Your unique selling point is definitely a central part of what you wish to communicate through your communication plan. Therefore, it is necessary to have this in place as you develop a communication plan.
Identify/Set Business objectives
Every plan is directed at achieving a goal or objective. If it is not directed at achieving a goal, then it cannot truly be regarded as a Plan.
The same goes for Communication Plans. It must be targeted at achieving something, and in this case, it is the business goals of your organization.
Therefore, as you set out to develop a communications plan, identify your business goals as they will set the direction for your communication, and give it a target to achieve.
Identify your target Audience
Your target audiences are the major class of people or population that patronizes your organization (your customers). It is very necessary to identify your target audience when designing a Communications Plan, as it determines the media of engaging with them, how you will engage them, etc.
To identify your audience, Co schedule recommends the following:
- Survey current customers to learn more about them.
- Dig into Google Analytics to learn more about who is currently visiting your website.
- Search through your competitors social media followers to see who they appear to be attracting (and compare that to your own followers).
Visit www.coschedule.com/blog/communications-plan-template/, for more details.
Understand Other Key Public
In your communication as an organization, you will most likely communicate with people and institutions that are not necessarily your customers. These classes of persons are referred to here as the “key public”.
They include the following:
- News media: News outlets and blogs
- Government agencies.
- Other organizations.
It is important to have a plan on how to communicate with these classes of persons and institutions, included in your Communications Plan.
Decide Your Message
The next is to decide which message you want to deliver to your audience. The earlier set brand statement, business objective, and unique selling proposition, will help you decide on the central message you wish to deliver to your audience (through your Communication Plan).
Coschedule.com, supplies the following questions to help you develop great messages for your audience:
- What are the most important things people need to know about your organization?
- What are some common misconceptions about your organization that you need to combat?
To arrive at an ideal message, provide answers to the above questions in the light of your organization.
Choose your Channels
The choice of the message you send out is as important as the channel through which you send out the message. Therefore, it is necessary to select the most appropriate channel for each message your organization wishes to send out. The following are some media through which an organization can send out messages:
- Company Blog.
- Email marketing.
- Social media.
- SMS marketing.
- Media Relations.
- Print collateral.
- Podcast Advertise.
- Traditional advertisement.
Ensure you select the right channel for each message you wish to send out as a mistake here could quickly derail the effect of your message.
Plan a Messaging Matrix
A messaging matrix is a table specifying which message an organization wishes to send out, to which audience it is targeted, and which channel it will be sent. It aligns messaging with audiences and channels.
Determine Your Important Events and Campaign Plans
Another critical part of designing your communications plan is determining your important events for the year and making plans on how you are going to manage your communication activities during those times. Examples of such events are Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc.
Set your Communication Goals
Like setting goals in other areas of life, setting communication goals will help you measure the progress you made over a given period.
Communication goals specify what an organization intends to achieve(communication-wise), over a specified period. They could be business-focused or audience-focused.
Communication goals are different from business goals; however, they are directed at helping the organization achieve its business goals. For example:
- While an organizations business goal is to double sales by the end of the year, a communications goal could be to double their weekly customer engagement on social media.
As you set your organization’s communication goals, ensure they are SMART, that is:
Plan Content Calendar
Another key step in preparing your communication plan is developing a Content Calendar. This will guide you on which post to make per time. For more details on how to design a content calendar, visit www.coschedule.com/blog/marketing-calendar-template/.
Measure Your Impact
The largest room on earth as the saying goes, is the room for improvement. After implementing your Communication Plans for some time, it is necessary to measure the effect the plan has had and what has been achieved.
In the process of reviewing the Plans, loopholes can be found and addressed, while wins can be built upon. The following resources can help you thoroughly measure the efficacy of your communication plan:
With the above-discussed steps, designing your organization’s Communication Plan should not be very challenging. Simply follow them and you will end up with an effective communication plan that you will be proud of. Thanks for reading through.