Every successful business has one distinct characteristic. They have the ability to effectively communicate with those that matter to the business. Whether the communication is meant for employees, investors or customers, they can pass their message across effectively, and respond accurately.
How do they do this? Because they have taken the time to develop an effective communication strategy. This strategy helps them keenly understand the issues and craft their messages appropriately.
But the importance of an effective communication strategy can easily be taken for granted. Even for many companies that do have a strategy in place, several do not appreciate the importance of asking critical questions before settling on one. That, unfortunately, will quickly prove to be an expensive oversight.
According to data from Holmes Report, the cost of ineffective or poor communication strategy for businesses has hit $37 billion. This includes the cost of settling on inappropriate or inadequate communication measures and discovering the mistake after the fact.
Further data from a survey of 400 UK and US companies estimated that communication barriers, costs organisations $62 million on average. And this is simply because their communication strategies made things worse, rather than better.
The naked truth is whether the message you need to pass across is internal or external, it simply must be deliberate, thoughtful and impactful. How do you ensure your message hits your target right where you want it? By asking the right questions long before you take the plunge.
Planning what good communication is for you will help your project move in the right direction and be consistent with your brand. More, it will help your business avoid wasting money on random strategies and focus your efforts exactly where they matter.
Want to create an effective communication strategy? Consider asking these seven questions.
1. What is the background of your project?
Start with a summary of your project. What does it entail? Where will it take place? When is it coming up? The project may be an upcoming event or it may be an announcement of an event that has already taken place. The point here is to communicate as clearly as possible, what the project is all about. This gives your communication guys an overview that will guide the entire discussion.
The second thing you need to ask here is what you’re looking to achieve with your communication. What are your goals? What will it take for you to say “I am satisfied” after the conclusion of the project? This allows for two things. First, it helps your communication experts understand where you want to go. Second, it provides a solid base on which to build the next step of developing key indicators that help you measure success.
Third thing you will need to talk about here are the possible challenges or issues that your project may have to grapple with. Are there political considerations to your initiative or project? Do you have volunteer expectations that you’d like to make clear? Lay them all out. Once you’re done giving the background, you’ll find that you’ve set a tone that guides the entire project. From here, everything can be seen and measured in the context of where you want to go.
2. Who do you want to reach out to?
Every message needs a specific target to be effective. You simply cannot craft a message for the general public. It’ll end up either being too light on salt, or too heavy on sauce. So, you have to designate a target audience. If possible, you can describe the typical targeted age profile, geographic information, target size etc. You can be as specific as you like.
The point of designating a target audience is to ensure your message leverages on the unique characteristics of that target. It helps determine your language, tone, medium and other important aspects of your communication. For instance, data shows that 78% of people who text wish they could have text conversations with businesses. Since millennials are the generation most prone to texting, it would make sense to explore this medium in communicating with them.
Another important question you need to ask about your target question is where you want to lead them. What do you want them to do? This will guide the tone and content of your communication just as much as determining a target will.
Also determine if a secondary audience will also be involved in the aspect of your communication. Your secondary audience is that class of persons that will be aware of your communication, even if they are not the core target. This will help you answer the question of what considerations you should give them, if any.
3. What kind of message are you looking to sell?
Obviously, this will be one of the most important questions you have to ask and answer. Basically, if you could get one sentence through all the clutter, what would that be? That’s the message you need to be focusing on getting through to your audience.
Determining your message will also help you outline the key points of what you’re trying to do. It will operate like a checklist against what your communication must contain, what you need to say to convince them or get a response. If your communication is meant to motivate them to take action, clearly defining your message will help you understand how to do this.
This will also help determine the style, language, tone or image that should accompany the message.
4. Do you already have something in the works?
It is not unlikely that you already have an idea about how the communication strategy should look like. If you do, it is important to lay this out as well. It will help guide your communication team and help them better understand what it is you want to achieve.
Even if the ideas are not clear or very elementary, you should still communicate them to your team so all the bases are covered.
5. What else would you be interested in?
This is the point where you consider if there are any special circumstances or objectives that tell on the project. Do you have any important considerations that must be represented in the communication? Are there any mandatories that must be in place?
If there are, it would be a good idea to identify them and make provision for them right at the outset. Failing to identify circumstances of this sort can result in situations where effort may have been expended before a realisation that something was left out.
6. What is your budget?
It is important to identify the scope of your financial commitment towards the communication campaign. Your budget limits will determine what strategies or tactics can best be adapted to reach your target audience and achieve your communication goals.
This is not only financial though. Consider assessing your capacity for communications work as well. How many weekly staff hours can you devote to the communication campaign? Do your staff members hold any tactical skills that can be utilised in the campaign?
7. What is your deadline?
A clear deadline helps your communications team plan their approach in line with your time preference. Make sure you do not settle on a deadline that is too close to the date of the launch of your project or initiative.
Plan for a deadline that leaves enough room for adjustments, tweaks and any modifications that might need to be made.
… And there you go!
That’s a summary of the questions you need to answer before you settle on a communications strategy.
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And if you’d like to understand how you can get to work crafting your own bespoke communications strategy, get in touch with us at COMM dot com. We are a communication and design agency that companies in the medical, science and innovation sectors. We’d be delighted to talk to you. Contact us here to start a conversation.