Steps to a successful communication strategy

All the communication plans, so well prepared in 2019, have been called into question with the health crisis and its corollaries, the confinements. Today, on the 2021, it is essential to build a communication plan that anticipates the different scenarios that are looming and allows the company to bounce back.

In this digital age, no one questions the need for a company to communicate. To communicate in order to promote and sell its products and services, to develop its image, to increase its activity or to create and develop its relationships with its customers, suppliers, service providers or partners.

However, faced with time and budget constraints, the first reflex of the company director is often to think about the means and tools of communication to be implemented, before defining his communication strategy.

However, a well thought-out strategy allows you to position your communication as closely as possible to the needs and expectations of your potential customers, to convey an image and a message that they understand and that touches them. But also to make the right choices in terms of communication tools and media in order to avoid unnecessary expenses.

The essential questions to ask
Several questions must be asked before each communication campaign:

What are the communication objectives?
What is the target audience?
What is the message?
What is the company’s positioning in relation to its competitors?
What image does it have?
All these questions and, of course, their answers, make it possible to define a precise framework for each communication campaign envisaged.

Defining a communication strategy also makes it possible to structure and coordinate the various actions or media that will be implemented and to have, upstream, a global vision of all the actions deployed over the year (press, advertising, website, e-marketing, events, etc.) in order to control their frequency, budget and execution.

As you will have understood, successful communication depends, above all, on a well-defined communication strategy.

So what are the different stages to be respected?

1. Define your communication objectives

The first step is to define your communication objectives.

Is it to make yourself known?
Attract new employees?
To build customer loyalty?
Several campaigns or communication media may be necessary to meet these different objectives. Because focusing on a single issue is often the rule for effective communication. However, a well-crafted campaign can, on the other hand, respond to different issues.

2. Identify your targets
Communication is above all the transmission of a message from a sender (your company) to one or more receivers (your customers, prospects, partners or influencers).
For you, communicating therefore means clearly identifying your communication targets. In order to deploy means of communication that are precisely adapted to their expectations. And to address only those people who are potentially interested in your brand, your products and services.

A company’s target audience can be many: its customers, partners, suppliers, etc.
Ask yourself the question.

Who do you want to reach? Your customers? Your prescribers? Your partners?
It is by aiming at the right target that you can optimise your budget and define appropriate actions.
But defining your target is not enough. You also need to know them well: know their sociological profile (age, sex, profession, socio-professional category, geographical area), know their needs and habits (behaviour, values, aspirations, type of consumption, preferred media)

3. Position yourself in your environment

What is your environment?
Who are your competitors and how do they communicate?
How long has your company existed?
What is its image?
How do you want to position your company in its environment?
Do you want to strengthen or correct your company’s image?
What are your competitive advantages?
What are your strong points?
Your weak points?
These are all questions to ask yourself in order to define the framework of your communication.

4. Using the SWOT method to carry out your reflection

A simple and effective method is to apply the SWOT method (assets, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). It allows you to identify the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats at each level, and thus bring out the decisive variables on which it will be most relevant and effective to act.

5. Formulate your message

What message do you want to convey?
What do you want to say and assert to your different targets?
What tone would you like to use to get your message across?
In this context, a rule to remember: a clear message conveying a single strong idea will have the most impact.

6. Analyse your company’s human and financial resources

It is obviously very important not to forget to analyse your company’s possibilities in terms of human and financial resources to be mobilised as part of your communication strategy.

Do you have a budget for your communication campaign?
Do you have one or more resource persons available internally to coordinate your communication and monitor the progress of the actions?
Can you afford to delegate your communication campaign to an external service provider?
These are all essential questions that will be taken into account when defining the tools and actions to be carried out.

7. Define the appropriate means of communication.

Once you have defined your objectives, your target group, the context in which you are operating, your message and the lines of communication to be developed, as well as the means at your disposal, you can think about the tools best suited to your communication strategy: e-marketing materials rather than posters, a website rather than a corporate brochure, etc.

8. Draw up a communication plan for this period of crisis

The last step is to draw up a communication plan which lists and plans the actions recommended in the communication strategy. Taking the form of a schedule, it will enable you to list the actions to be carried out, their frequency, the timing and duration of each action, the resources to be mobilised within your company and/or externally (communication agency, freelance service provider, printer, etc.) and the budget associated with each action.

The communication plan will allow you to have a clear view of the different tools. The different stages to be set up, the schedule to be respected for the implementation of your communication strategy, but also the time to devote to it and the human and financial resources to be associated with it.

Finally, don’t forget to evaluate the effectiveness of your communication and to be attentive to feedback from your sales representatives, customers, suppliers, but also from social media, blogs or forums. This feedback will allow you to adjust your strategy and messages during your next communication campaigns.