How to Create a Communications Plan to Benefit Your Business
For any business, having a communications plan is essential. However, far too often, business leaders fail to recognize the importance of one and the benefits that can come from it.
A common scenario involved with a business plan is when your business needs to communicate with your customer and convince them that your product or service is the best option for them. Now, imagine that you cannot talk or write or make any gestures; it would be nearly impossible for the customer to understand anything at all.
This metaphor shows how vital communication can be for your business. Without having a good one in place, you are leaving out or not conveying all the necessary information to your customers. A lack of communication and planning can leave your buyers confused, not having questions answered, and looking elsewhere. It can be detrimental for your employees too. They deserve to be "in the loop" just as much as your customers.
Creating a robust communications plan doesn't have to be a strenuous process, but it is crucial. Below, we will go over everything you need to know to craft a strong communications plan.
What is a Business Communication Plan?
A business communication plan can be thought of as a road map for your business's communication needs. It should include everything from reaching an audience and how to convey a message best. This formal strategy plan defines key components that your business will use to communicate with consumers and team members alike.
An example may include strategies to interact with various audiences, advancement techniques, measurements to evaluate campaigns, and more.
Why Do I Need a Communications Plan?
Think about how any business would operate if communications weren't a major priority among leaders, management, team members, and of course, customers. Nothing would ever get done, no one would ever know what to do next or what is going on, and there would be no email or text message updates, no landlines or contact centers, no direction. The public would have no idea that your business is functioning, what you offer, or that it even exists.
While this is an apparent worst-case scenario, it definitely conveys how important communication is for a business. Communication is a valuable and necessary resource both internally and externally.
Without an effective communications plan, your business could fail to create brand awareness, nurture customers and their loyalty, build a solid and loyal team, and lose sales and revenue. Companies must communicate to deal with sudden and ongoing changes, new products, services, or offers, new business locations, opportunities, and more.
What Should My Communications Plan Include?
A well-organized communications plan allows everyone (internally and externally) to be aware of any new information or ongoing changes because critical data is planned out in advance and should take the following elements into account:
- Business Objectives: What is the purpose of this communication outreach? How can you better communicate with your customers and team members? Be sure to list goals and then plan out how you will achieve them in a predetermined timeframe.
- Target Audience: Assess your current communications and see who your business interacts with most frequently. It could be investors, consumers, shareholders, team members, or government officials. Then, you will be able to prioritize what, when, and how you can best interact with these individuals and organizations.
- Focus: Once you have figured out your goals and target audiences, you can configure your messages for each. For instance, a message to your team should not be the same as the one sent to customers or investors. Messages should benefit and strengthen your business objectives and promote your company's offerings.
- Strategies: Be specific about the tools and resources used to reach your target audiences. Methods or strategies used to communicate may include websites/chats, emails, social media platforms, press releases, paid advertising, and other systems.
- Evaluation: By continuously measuring results, you will see pretty quickly if your communications plan is working and if it is effective. Your company should be reaching the predetermined objectives you laid out, and if they are not, you may need to go back and edit your plan a bit. When assessing your plan, questions to keep in mind may be: Open rate of emails? Are traffic and sales increasing? What methods are working the best?
Six Steps to Create and Execute a Strong Communications Plan
#1. Choose Target Audience
Begin by deciding who your message is tailored to. Most commonly, this will be your new customers or prospective ones, but also team members, business partners, or the community your business serves. If you need to identify a specific sub-group within your target audience, a market research professional will be able to help you prepare a further message.
#2. Determine How Your Business Stands Out
How is your business different from the competition (nationally or locally)? What does your company do better than the others? Why does your customer base value your business, products, or services? Why is your customer loyalty so high? To help answer these questions, collecting feedback from your customers, partners, team members, and other stakeholders is a great place to start.
#3. Develop a Tagline
Having a concise or even catchy message that describes your business and offerings can create a unique proposition for your company. It's often helpful to come up with an "only" line. "We are the only company that does x." You should utilize this key message across all communications efforts and platforms.
#4. Define Objectives
Set realistic goals and measurable objectives for your communications plan. For instance, if you identify 10,000 prospective clients in your market, you may set a goal of contacting 10% of them, and of that 10%, 20% become customers in the next year. Setting goals will help you estimate sales, devote proper resources to communications efforts, assess results, optimize efforts, and stay on track.
#5. Choose Which Communication Channels To Utilize
Determine which communication channels are best suited to reach your target audiences. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis and narrow down the best ones to focus on. You will probably want to combine a few conventional and non-conventional methods and include digital channels. Include traditional advertising, multiple social media platforms, newsletters, and others. Don’t forget a robust Unified Communications platform! Check out the complete list of features Simplicity VoIP offers here.
Tied to our many incredible features, Simplicity offers a wide range of products and services that will help your business grow, including:
- Phones and Equipment
- Simplicity Webphone and SimplicityGo Mobile App
- Online Portal with Messaging
- Video Conferencing
- Wireless Backup
- Managed Services
- SIP & PRI Trunking
#6. Execute Your Plan
Determine who will be responsible for executing your communications plan and hold this person accountable for meeting goals and objectives. If you need additional assistance filling gaps in internal expertise, consider hiring an outside consultant. These may include a marketing consultant, public relations management agent, a writer, or graphic designer.
Start Communicating Effectively!
These are the basics of developing a communications plan to benefit your business both internally and externally. Communications plans are not permanent and can change whenever needed. Listen to your feedback from your team, customers, and stakeholders and make changes accordingly. There is a reason that communication is key!
Our customer service team is ready to help and answer any questions you may have!