Simply put, a strategic communications plan is a description of a company’s marketing and communications goals and activities. And it should be treated as an essential document for any company, especially a start-up. While every plan should include a few key sections (outlined below), there is no single, one-size-fits-all approach that works for every business. A communications plan for a restaurant will be much different than one for a hospital, for example. But here is a snapshot of the crucial elements that every plan should include.
This opening section describes the nature of the business and how it plans to grow through strategic communications and marketing.
Arguably, the single most important feature of any communications plan is the background research and analysis. After all, how can you be expected to tell your company’s story if you don’t know much about the industry in which you operate? Generally this background research will identify the current market size, segmentation, target customers, growth opportunities, risks and competitors. In addition a SWOT analysis for the company itself would be helpful here.
Establish Your Mission, and Your Messages
Now is the time to define your brand, your products, your company and your value proposition to the market.
State Your Goals
Goals should be simply what you want your communications to achieve. These are specific, measurable outcomes: a percentage of market share, annual sales, growth into certain markets, etc.
Define Your Strategy
Strategies are the initiatives that will allow you to realize your goals. These should answer the question of “how” the company plans to communicate to its customers. For example, a restaurant might devise a strategy for becoming a go-to family gathering place on Monday nights, in the hopes of meeting its overall revenue goals. Or, a backup software company might create a strategy for focusing on a certain customer niche, like publishing companies or law firms, in order to support its own expectations.
Define Your Tactics
These are the tools of the trade. Identify the channels of your communications strategy here, such as social media, blogging, digital advertising, direct response marketing, or media relations. Be as specific as possible. It’s not enough to simply list a bunch of marketing channels – describe how they will be used. Consider the strategies you’ve identified above. Do your tactics support them?
Build a Schedule and a Budget
Now that you have a set of tasks to complete, put them on a schedule. Identify who “owns” each task, and list anticipated completion dates. Keep your team accountable and abreast of approaching deadlines. Also, is your marketing and communications budget in line with the strategies you plan to implement? Talk with vendors, publishers, printers and anyone else that can give you the necessary cost information to make sure what you’re planning falls within your budget.
Keep it Alive
You’ll put a lot of work into this plan. The last thing you want is to see it relegated to a dusty corner in someone’s office. Marketing and communications strategies evolve. You might have to prioritize certain goals over others. Test and measure what’s working and update your plan accordingly.
Everyone here at Snow Communications is deeply saddened by the loss of Steve Jobs. His passion for innovation, creativity and persistence has shaped our lives, both personally and professionally. Much of the joy and wonder we experience with technology is due to his genius.
There are so many wonderful words being said about him amongst his fans, colleagues and competitors from around the globe and across so many communication mediums. However, when cutting to the heart of what matters most, we think he said it best.
Cheers to a well lived life Steve Jobs…and thank you. Rest in peace.
In many ways, September 11, 2001 feels like it was yesterday. In other ways, it feels like a distant nightmare where you may struggle to not dwell on it too much as the tears might come too fast. Who can forget the shock, devastation and heartbreak for all the countless lives lost? Yet, in spite of this unparalleled feeling of loss, hope remains.
The 9/11 Memorial opens today, September 12, 2011 after a special dedication for families of the victims on September 11. If you don’t have plans to visit New York in the near future, a quick visit to its website is certainly worth a trip.
We will not forget.