Effective communication plan: best-practice – part 1
Communication plays a fundamental role in any area of our lives, whether it be in interpersonal relationships, but especially in the workplace.
The most successful companies know how important it is to set up an effective communication plan in order to achieve our goals.
As the first axiom of communication mentions, and as we all know, it is impossible not to communicate. That is why today more than ever it is necessary to make a preventive planning, which starts precisely from the drafting of your Communication Plan.
Marketing is no longer a question of what you can produce but of the story you can tell – Seth Godin
Communication plan: what it is and what it is for
But what exactly is a communication plan? What do I really need it for? Let’s see it together.
Making a communication plan is not just putting together a bunch of words and good intentions.
The communication plan is a real strategic document that aims to define and plan the communication strategy that needs to be applied to achieve the set objectives. It will be a fundamental document because once drawn up it will become a guide for all the communication activities to be carried out and a useful tool to monitor them.
It may concern the general communication of the company or, more specifically, of a new product/service to be launched on the market.
The communication plan will therefore indicate not only the strategies, but also the message to be conveyed to the outside world, the public to whom we address, how we should address them, the activities to be carried out, what means and when to carry out each activity, the resources to be used, budget and objectives.
The purpose of the communication plan is to ensure that communication is always coherent, coordinated and integrated.
It is recommended to draw up the communication plan annually, verifying step-by-step the expected results. However, if necessary, a six-monthly or multi-annual plan can be drawn up.
The fundamental thing is to always monitor the results and, if necessary, update the communication plan, even during the course of work.
How to structure a communication plan.
Where to start?
Here are the fundamental questions to ask yourself when you want to start structuring a communication plan.
1. Analyze the SCENARIO
What should I promote, what market do I want to enter, who are my competitors?
By scenario we mean:
– the general context, i.e. the geographical, territorial, and socio-economic context)
– the context of the market/sector, i.e. the characteristics of the market into which my product/service will enter
– the organizational context, therefore the general organizational characteristics of the company, the resources available, the current products/services offered, the communication already implemented. It is necessary to investigate the possible presence of changes in progress, such as market evolutions, competitors’ actions, possible technological evolutions, legislative changes, etc., in order to prepare a communication plan that takes into consideration even the smallest details useful to the strategy.
There are several tools available to carry out the internal analysis:
– SWOT ANALYSIS
– Perceptual maps and identification of brand positioning (position occupied by the product in the minds of potential customers compared to the competition).
– Analysis of the relationship between consumer and product
2. Define the communication OBJECTIVES
What are you getting at? What is your goal?
Giving yourself a communication (but also marketing) goal(s) is the first step to make a communication plan concrete. Often these two goals go hand in hand, but it is necessary to make a distinction. While a marketing goal aims to achieve market share or a certain turnover in terms of sales, the communication goal is primarily aimed at the perception of the product in the target customer.
Let’s take an example:
product to sell: a device for automatic opening of sliding doors in the home
marketing objective: to distribute a new device through the e-commerce channel, with a promotional launch price that will generate a peak of sales
communication objective: to convey to the target customer that it is a technological, trendy product, ideal both at home and in the workplace.
To see the complete case history of this product, go to the case history Isidoor.it
Selling is also a communication objective, but sales funnels require different steps, as we know. It may therefore be appropriate to define different micro-objectives that will cover the various activities (related to the sale and/or promotion of the brand or product/service) and a final macro-objective (e.g. selling).
The communication objectives must have a precise characteristic: they must be S.M.A.R.T.
Specific: the objectives must be well outlined, detailed, never generic! It is necessary to have clear what we want to do, why we want to do it, how we want to do it, who we want to address, when we want to do it and within when.
Misurabili: the objectives must be quantitatively measurable. Only in this way will it be possible to monitor the results and check whether the objective has been achieved (or how far it is from being achieved). The more detailed the objectives are, the more feasible it will be to measure them.
Accesible: objectives should always be defined taking into account resources (both staff and financial), capacities and tools that are really available. Without these data or by over- and/or underestimating the resources available, your communication plan is only doomed to failure.
Realistic: setting concrete and likely achievable goals, considering contextual factors, is the first step to have an effective communication plan. Do not aim for unattainable goals.
Timely: it is important to set goals by defining the time frame within which to achieve them. In doing so, it will be easier to focus on achieving the goal, but also to monitor the results in progress.
For some types of projects, e.g. product or service launch phase, it will be important to define with a consultant the right time within which certain objectives can actually be achieved, based on available resources and planned activities.
3. Identify the BUYER PERSONAS
Who do you want to talk to?
In the communication plan it is of fundamental importance to identify and define precisely who is the potential customer of my company.
Over the years, we have talked about potential customers, then about targets, and again about prospects.
Today we are talking about buyer personas, that is to say an identikit of my potential client, where in addition to the classic personal data (age, gender, social status) a psychological profile is outlined with the aim of identifying with my potential client in order to understand the logic and stimuli that drive him to buy, how they usually buy, what they buy, what his interests are, what he loves, what he hates, etc..
The identification of personas therefore allows to define more accurately user groups based on common characteristics and then to create a content strategy ad hoc for each user group. In this way you can be sure that you have really met and created a dialogue with the right potential customer.
If you want to go deeper into the topic of buyer personas, we refer you to the article Buyer Personas: create the identikit of your typical customer.
4. Choose the MEANS OF COMMUNICATION
Where to convey the message? How often? The importance of choosing the appropriate means of communication.
Oggi disponiamo di molteplici mezzi che possono veicolare il nostro messaggio. Negli ultimi anni numeri mezzi online hanno permesso di ampliare notevolmente le opportunità a disposizione delle aziende, ma soprattutto hanno permesso di avere mezzi i cui risultati sono monitorabili.
La scelta più comunemente usata è quella definita come Communication Mix, in quanto la comunicazione più efficace è quella che considera diversi canali. La realtà è che i mezzi di comunicazione più usati negli ultimi tempi sono per la maggiore quelli online, con tutti i suoi canali digital (Facebook, campagne Adwords….).
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