kim waltman fullcircle creative + coaching creating a marketing communications plan blog post

Marketing communications encompasses actions companies take to share why they do what they do, how they do it and the value of their approach to customers. Whether it’s establishing social media presence, creating a website or buying advertising space, these efforts work best when strategically linked together and aligned with your company’s mission and vision.

With 2016 year-end in site, fullCIRCLE encourages you to create time to reflect on actions taken, the effectiveness of those actions and what’s possible moving forward.  Now is the ideal time to create a plan that empowers consistent messaging and builds your brand.

Answer these questions as you navigate the planning process.

Ask: With whom do we want to communicate?

While it may seem like a rhetorical question, it’s imperative to identify all possible audiences with which you want to communicate. Once they’re identified, prioritize them. Remember that communication is important both internally and externally. In fact, internal audiences are more valuable than external ones. Think about it this way: How can you expect internal audiences to communicate messages effectively externally if they’re unclear about message strategies or lack confidence in delivery?

Ask: What message(s) do we want to communicate?

It’s easy to get caught up in the execution of “how” to communicate a message without careful consideration of “what” message(s) you want conveyed. Message strategies should be consistent with one voice all the time, every time. This builds your brand and mitigates marketplace confusion.

To develop clear, concise message strategies, consider the following:

  • Why you do what you do
  • How you do what you do
  • What current and prospective customers will experience
  • Why your value proposition is worthwhile

Ask: How do our message strategies differentiate us from the competition?

Perception is everything. When several companies appear to offer the same product or service, it can be difficult to develop creative messaging. After all, there are only so many ways to talk about what you offer. Rather than focusing on what you do, begin with the end in mind and think about the client experience and benefit of aligning with you.

Ask: How can we most effectively and efficiently deliver our message(s)?

The world of marketing communications can be overwhelming. Technology has empowered a communications revolution that puts your company at the fingertips of millions of people in record time. It can be confusing to think about the most ideal ways of reaching target audiences.

Below are eight avenues to deliver your message.

Consider which ones are most important to your audiences, practical for you to include in your plan and affordable to execute thoroughly.

1. Internal communication tool

A private network accessible only to internal audiences works wonders towards brand building among a company’s most important asset. The more comfortable internal audiences are with messaging, the more effectively they will deliver it to external audiences. Additionally, creating a way for team members to feel connected – especially in organizations where people may be spread across various locations – elevates morale and encourages sharing of information such as best practices.

2. Website

It’s all about presence and convenience. There are over three billion internet users, and audiences aren’t going to take the time to learn about you unless you make it easy for them. Done effectively, your web presence builds credibility, raises awareness of your brand and encourages interest that leads to action. Focus on ensuring your website is responsive and interactive to build a memorable brand experience.  

3. Social media

Did you know that more than two-third of internet users have active social media accounts? You can use social media to network, interact with customers, bring team members together and create opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have existed. Like other tactics, it’s important to set aside time, creativity and budget to garner results.

4. Public relations campaign

What about your company may warrant the interest of a third party entity such as a print publication, TV or radio station? Here’s a tip: Think more about the benefit to others (clients or the community) than about yourself. The benefit of a third party endorsement from the media is powerful and should benefit readers, viewers and listeners. Business promotion is best left to advertising.

5. Prospective business responses

If submitting proposals outlining how your company would meet the need of a prospective client is part of the procurement process, consider incorporating message strategies here. This avenue is impactful yet frequently under leveraged.

6. Presentation skills

Anytime you make a presentation, you are representing your company, building your brand and cultivating credibility. Consider including message strategies consistent with other avenues reaching your target audiences.

If you’re uncomfortable with presenting or acknowledge room for improvement, you may want to hire a consultant to deliver objective feedback and guide you in refining your style. Remember: How your message strategies are delivered is just as significant as the actual messages. 93 percent of communication is non-verbal. Be mindful of the non-verbal messages you’re sending.

7. Job fairs/trade shows

Here’s an opportunity to meet one-on-one with event goers, establish relationships and provide insight into your product or service. Ironically, those staffing job fair or trade show booths often miss such chances because they’re distracted by a peer or reading material, computer or smartphone. Optimize your company’s investment by coordinating exhibit message strategies and visuals with verbal dialogue. Such consistency will ensure communication resonates more deeply.

8. Advertising campaign

Advertising space comes in many forms and can be cost prohibitive for some. Regardless of where your company chooses to advertise, you want to ads to be memorable and inspire action. Keep in mind that audiences need to see a message a minimum of seven times before it sinks in.

Marketing communications planning is a simple yet impactful process that allows you to cultivate creativity while developing consistent messaging that builds your brand. If creativity causes you some discomfort or you would appreciate having an outside, objective facilitator to guide your planning adventure, reach out to me via the Contact page.