Communication Plan

What service or product does your business offer the marketplace? Who are the key audiences for your organization? How and where will you interact with your audiences? Every company has a business plan. Not every business has a written Communication Plan. At what point of growth does your business need to conceive a Communication Plan? The answer is now. Vagary can help you create a Communication Plan that will proactively define all the aspects of your marketing efforts. 

The details in your Business Plan and a Strategic Analysis will provide the stimulus for all the details in your formal Communication Plan.

Your Business Plan defines your products or services, your key consumer(s), overhead information, your balance sheet and much more. At a minimum, a Strategic Analysis outlines your business' Strengths and Weaknesses and identifies the Opportunities and Threats from your competitive set. 

Some examples of Business Goals would be the following: 

1. Increase market share

2. Decrease overhead costs

3. Increase customer retention

4. Launch an E-commerce website

5. Increasing average order value on the site

6. Open three brick and mortar locations

7. Strengthen Busines Partnerships

Communication Plan goals are designed to support your business goals, but they are different. Increasing brand awareness, announcing a new service, launching a seasonal promotion, responding to negative publicity, and changing the perception of your brand are all examples of Communication Goals. To be sure, some of your Communication Goals will be quantitative while others will be qualitative. Modern-day marketing includes a mix of advertising and public relations endeavors. Our industry trifecta categorizes these efforts as Paid, Earned, and Owned; these terms will be used more when defining your Media Mix.

The following is a list of the components of a solid Communication Plan:

1. Strategic Analysis

2. Communication Goals

3. Key Audiences

4. Communication Strategies

5. Media Mix Ecosystem 

6. Communication Schedule

7. Analytics Objectives

8. Reporting Needs

The Key Audiences defined in your Communication Plan should not only include potential and existing consumers but other business stakeholders as well. Your relationships with investors, strategic partners, suppliers, current employees, potential employees, your community, industry influencers, and even ex-employees, are just as meaningful as your relationships with your existing customers. In today's interactive media environment, your company reputation is in the hands of all your stakeholders. 

While all the components of a comprehensive Communication Plan are closely related, the two that are most related are the Communication Strategies and the Media Mix. For instance, choosing a public relations strategy of maintaining a company website would be closely related to the selection of a specific CMS. Picking a public relations Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy needs to identify a particular search engine. Choosing a public relations social media strategy needs to include the specific social media properties. Selecting a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) advertising strategy for your shopping campaigns would need to include the exact search engines, like Google Ads or Amazon. So, while declaring communication strategies may be somewhat abstract, the Media Mix will need to identify the specific media channels that you will attempt to master and include in your communication ecosystem. 

Declaring communication strategies and identifying specific media channels are as much a statement of what you plan to undertake as it is a statement of what you will not pursue at that time. The Internet is continually evolving, and platforms are constantly being introduced or updated. Your organization can't "boil the ocean." Reviewing your Communication Plan on a quarterly basis, or more frequently, keeps your efforts organized; conversely, continually changing strategies or media channel focus keeps personnel busy, but less focused and less efficient.  

After identifying your communication strategies and your media mix, your team will need to create a tentative communication schedule based on holidays, seasonality, annual promotions, industry summits, or otherwise. Coordinating these communication efforts across channels ahead of time is crucial for your internal marketing team. Proactively providing direction for your marketing team is essential for keeping their quality of work high. Situations will arise on a day-to-day basis that requires immediate attention. Providing your team with a master communication schedule allows them to get ahead of the work and still respond to daily fires.  

Some of your marketing efforts (paid, earned, owned) will be qualitative; others will be quantitative. All marketing channels in your mix need to be discussed regarding measurement, analytics. The reporting protocols for each channel need to be understood and implemented so that future optimizations can be pushed based on the data feedback. The more channels you attempt to utilize, the more complicated the deployment of the reporting requirements will be. 

The following is a short list of modern communication professionals or services: web developers, graphic designers, videographers, photographers, SEO professionals, Email vendors, retargeting platforms, call tracking vendors, SEM gurus, rewards platforms, publicists, CRM platform vendors, analytics professionals, social media managers, web hosting services, and product feed management platforms. Yes, this list can be longer. Vagary is ready to help your team navigate the media landscape and proactively coordinate your efforts for your key audiences using your defined media mix. 

In today’s quickly changing digital media environment, a formal written Communication Plan is crucial for defining a media mix that is appropriate and effective for your business; one that will keep your team efficient. You may have high-level communication goals that change from quarter to quarter, or you may have communication goals that remain unchanged for several years. Regardless of your situation, the modern media landscape is continuously evolving--it's a moving target; this means, at the tactical level, optimizations and adjustments need to be managed for each channel on an ongoing basis. Regardless of your business or non-profit, Vagary can help you construct a formal Communication Plan to help it grow.

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