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Marketing communications is essential to a company’s brand and marketing strategy. To get their messages out to target audiences, organizations refer to strategic communication plans to implement marketing campaigns. Clearly outlining the communication functions behind advertising, promotions and public relations allows businesses to be proactive rather than reactive against competition and changing business environments. It also helps companies manage campaign costs and stay within their marketing budget. After the implementation of a strategic communication plan, professionals can assess which communication channels worked and which should be revised or eliminated from the strategic planning process.
Begin with the background story on why you are implementing a strategic communication plan. Frame the issues and market trends driving communications and marketing activities in the marketplace. Analyze past communications strategies that worked and did not work for similar organizations.
Establish your communication objectives. Clarify what you want to accomplish in terms of brand image, customer engagement and company sales. Set goals that can be measured during and after communication campaigns, and provide a proper gauge for success. Make sure your strategic communication plan’s objectives are in line with your organization’s overall business targets and long-term vision.
Describe your ideal target audience. Use focus groups, surveys, canvassing and in-person interviews to identity issues and challenges facing your targets. Collect demographic information, including household income, education level, age, ethnicity and profession. Find out how, where and which communication tools your target audience uses to consume information and make purchasing decisions.
Decide on your tactical communication activities. Identify television, radio, print and online publications for media placement and publicity. Coordinate contests, store openings, product launches, customer seminars, promotional events and celebrity endorsements to build relationships with partner businesses and generate interest around your products. Create newsletters, news releases, email messages and social media content to educate employees and the public about your communication initiatives.
Assess available resources for planning and executing your strategic communication plan. Determine your budget and allocate where your funds will be spent. Parcel out tasks across departments, team members and external vendors. Pick out key stakeholders and decide what support you will need to make your strategic communication plan successful.
Explain how you will monitor and measure results during and after your communication activities. List manual and automated tools you will use to aggregate and analyze information for future campaigns.
Have a backup plan for unforeseen events. Be flexible and nimble in case your marketing budget is cut, products are recalled or team members are laid off. Developing a crisis management program helps reduce the chance of negative press, financial losses and damaged employee morale.
Train spokespeople and top executives who will be communicating to the public and media. While some stakeholders may be able to speak comfortably to large audiences, others will require more practice or prepared talking points to confidently communicate your campaign’s key messages.
Bridgette is an aspiring yogini, newbie coder and seasoned marketing writer in the higher ed space. She's written hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including, entrepreneurship, K-12 pedagogy and information technology. Bridgette's work has appeared on Connect: IT at NYU, Noodle Pros, QuickBooks Small Business Center, Trails.com and USA Today.