11 steps to create an effective communication plan – WAU
The communication plan is a document that guides all the company’s communication actions. It must be guided according to the current situation of the business, the public and what objective needs to be achieved at a given time.
Have you tried to develop a communication plan for your company, but felt that it did not move? So this post is for you!
Without a good promotion of products or services, it is difficult for a company to prosper. This disclosure goes far beyond advertising campaigns and sponsored posts on Instagram and other social networks.
For your business to gain visibility in this competitive market, you need to think about communication from a strategic point of view. The communication plan works like a map, which will guide all the company’s actions towards the objective you want to achieve.
In this post, we will explain step by step how to make an effective planning so that your company stands out in the market:
- Understand the company’s market situation
- Define objectives and goals
- Crop target audience
- Set the budget
- Establish the schedule
- Establish creative direction
- Empower the team
- Long-term thinking
- Make tests
- Preparing for crises
- Evaluate, adapt and improve
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What is the role of the communication plan in the growth of the business?
To this day, unfortunately, there are companies whose directors believe that working on communication comes down to making some posts on social networks and printing pamphlets.
What these people do not know is that good communication planning can be the difference between a commodities company (that is, that sells products with no added value) and a super brand, known internationally.
The communication plan is a strategic document, which should be periodically reviewed to see if it still makes sense for the company. Next, we will explain what it should contain in a good communication plan, so that it fulfills its role within the organization. Follow!
Communication in companies needs to be thought from a strategic point of view. In other words, it has a clear objective to be achieved, and it is being transformed throughout the company’s history.
The communication plan must explain what the objective is at that moment. Some examples are:
- gain notoriety in the market;
- position yourself as a leader;
- expand market share;
- introduce a new line of products / services;
- do a rebranding
Speaking to an audience that does not yet know the brand is very different from speaking to customers who are already loyal. So the purpose of business plan will dictate many decisions in the tactical and operational fields of communication.
Once the objective has been defined, the company must also outline the message to be communicated. But just as important as “what” is “how”. The communication plan must also include the tone of voice adopted by the organization.
For a solid image, it is essential that the company is consistent in both messages and tone of voice applied to deal with audiences on their different channels.
Many companies associate the word “public” with consumers. But, if you look a little deeper, you will notice that there are a number of audiences that interact with the company.
Employees, suppliers, strategic partners, the community are just a few. If there is a relationship, there must be communication. Good communication planning must consider all the company’s strategic audiences.
It is possible to make plans aimed at only one or some of the company’s audiences. Typically, these documents are used for specific actions, always considering the broader context of the organization.
Another aspect that must be considered in the communication planning are the channels through which the messages will be transmitted. This decision will be very oriented by the public.
Let’s assume that the brand wants to talk to its investor audience. In this case, Instagram or Facebook will hardly be the best channels for transmitting messages. Likewise, if the brand wants to get closer to the young audience, it may not make much sense to invest in print newspaper ads.
In order to define the best channels, frequency and other strategic issues for the transmission of the message, it is essential for the brand to know well the target audience for which the communication is directed.
There is no strategic communication without monitoring and evaluating the results. Did the messages reach the public (s) correctly? Was the target reached the one defined by the strategy? Was the objective of the plan achieved?
Getting these answers depends on establishing, even before putting the plan into execution, Communication KPIs. See what makes sense to be used as a metric for the plan in question and devise a strategy to monitor those results.
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How to create an efficient communication plan?
Now that you know what to have in a communication plan, you need to be aware of its construction, so that the decisions made in the document reflect the company’s situation and lead to the desired results.
See the tips below.
1. Understand the company’s market situation
Every journey consists of two parameters: the starting point and the finishing point. Achieving your goals with the communication plan will largely depend on where your company is now.
Make an analysis of the organization’s current situation. Consider the positioning, the channels used, the type of message passed, the audiences with which the company relates, the image it has for each of these audiences.
Do reception research about the company, conduct focus groups, prepare a SWOT analysis, consult secondary data about the market and understand where the brand is, in the broader scenario.
2. Define objectives and goals
Objectives and goals need to be defined in a very strategic way. While objectives – general and specific – can be seen as the end points of your planning, goals are a kind of check point, so you know you are in the right direction.
Choose goals that are SMART:
- S: specific;
- M: measurable;
- A: achievable (possible, within your time and available resources);
- R: relevant (relevant, considering your major objective);
- T: time-bound (limited in time, that is, according to a schedule).
These features will ensure that you are able to monitor and evaluate the results of the actions later.
3. Cut out the target audience
The segmentation of audiences has evolved a lot in the last two decades. Demographic data alone is no longer sufficient to define the public profile of an organization or action.
To develop your communication plan, you will need to know your audience well. Understand what your values are, your pains, what you can do to help, what are the most efficient ways to communicate with these people.
4. Set the budget
Making communication actions requires resources. Before you start, you need to know how much you will need and also how much you have available from the company. Thus, you will be able to distribute this amount in the most intelligent way, considering the ROI of each action.
5. Establish the schedule
A good communication plan must predict when the actions will be implemented. Ideally, each step should complement the previous ones, so that the plan grows in complexity.
This helps to reinforce the brand image with audiences and optimizes resources. Another advantage of this strategy is that you can quickly correct any action that does not lead the company towards its goals.
6. Establish creative direction
Everything needs to be coherent for the communication planning to be efficient. The visual identity of the pieces and actions must be aligned with the discourse, and all platforms adopted for dialogue must follow the same creative line.
Define these criteria before you start to execute the ideas and launch them. Consistency is a very important point for the brand image.
7. Empower the team
Communication may not be the main activity of the company, but it is certainly one of the most strategic activities of all organizations. The team in this sector has the responsibility to build the company’s reputation and position it as a reference in the market.
Therefore, the qualification of professionals is essential. It is possible that you realize the need for skills that are not covered in your team. In this case, offer courses to professionals, so that they have mastery of the techniques.
8. Think long-term
The communication plan needs to be drawn up with a view to larger dimensions of the company, such as its purpose, mission, organizational DNA. Even if your planning is for one year, make sure it is taking the brand in the direction of your vision.
9. Take tests
Before launching your communication plan to the general public, test with smaller groups and check the results. It is not uncommon for a message to be interpreted by the receiver very differently from the sender’s intention.
Preliminary tests avoid misunderstandings that can threaten the company’s reputation.
10. Prepare for crises
Nobody wants a crisis to happen. But, should it arise, it is essential to be prepared to react and provide good answers to your audience. Transparency and positioning are attitudes that are being demanded of companies.
Plan how to act on them if an unforeseen event that could threaten the brand’s reputation suddenly appears.
11. Evaluate, adapt and improve
The monitoring of results must be done not only at the end of the communication plan, but throughout the entire process. The constant evaluation of how the shares are being received guarantees the success of the plan.
If any of the stages does not perform as desired, do not be afraid to interrupt, adapt and improve it to better meet the brand’s objectives.
The communication plan is a strategic document that can make a difference in the success of an organization. Involve employees in its preparation and engage them in the execution of planning. The internal public is one of your company’s best ambassadors.
Now that you’ve learned how to plan strategic communication, how about learning how to design a media plan? Read our post and stay inside!