What should your Communication Strategy contain?

Brand Strategy
Jon Scott

Your Communication Strategy is a working document that sets out the purpose, content framework and method for all your communications.

It ensures all your communications are aligned to the strategic and operational objectives of your business or organisation.

Your Communication Strategy defines what you are going to say; how you are going to say it; why you are saying it; who you are saying it to, and, most importantly, what you want to achieve through your communications.

The purpose of your Communication Strategy is to:

– understand the problem you are solving
– achieve your organisational objectives
– understand the market you operate in
– appreciate any external factors that may affect achieving your objectives
– understand your audiences
– engage effectively with your audiences
– ensure audiences clearly understand what you do
– provide clear rules of engagement with your audiences
– provide a clear action plan for your communications
– be clear about your process & the human resources needed
– put the right monitoring and evaluation process in place

Your Communication Strategy is made up of two distinct parts; the strategic thinking, and practical planning.

What should your Brand Communication Strategy contain?

The strategic part

– the problem you are solving – the reason your business or organisation exists.
– your business or organisation strategic objectives (taken from your business plan)
– your business or organisation operational objectives (taken from your business plan)
– your business or organisation communication objectives
– SWOT analysis
– current communication activity
– audience personas
– vision and mission statements
– positioning
– value proposition
– channels by audience type
– customer journey by audience type
– audience messages based on needs
– key messages by audience

The planning part…

– communications calendar (by audience, content, channel, by when)
– resourcing (who’s doing what. This includes internal resourcing and any third-party agency)
– systems and processes (what tools you use and your methodology)
– monitoring (how you are going to measure your communications efficacy)

One of the key parts of your strategy is defining your communication objectives. These then provide the direction for your key messages.

How to define your communication objectives?

There is a simple 3-step process to determining your brand communication objectives. These steps ensure your communications are supporting the growth and ambitions of your business or organisation.

Strategic objectives

Strategic objectives are the actions you need to take to achieve your business objectives. Typically, business objectives will be centred around: The operational excellence of the business; products or services; customers; competitive advantage, and; market position.

A way of establishing what your strategic objectives are is to use the findings from a SWOT analysis and your Vision statement for the business. It will help you identify the boundaries of a strategic plan and what actions you need to concentrate on to achieve each of your identified business objectives.

Examples of strategic objectives might include:

  • Improve profit margins and revenue
  • Develop new products or services
  • Increase customer reach and loyalty
  • Improve after sales service and repeat business

Operational objectives

Operational objectives focus on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’.  If the strategic objective is to increase customer reach, the operational objective is how you go about achieving it. 

Operational objectives should be attainable, action-oriented, short term goals. They may be built around daily, weekly or monthly tasks that incrementally contribute to achieving the longer term strategic objectives.

Communications objectives

The communication objectives are derived from the strategic and operational objectives. The main goals of business communication are generally to inform, to request, to persuade, and to build relationships.

Different operational objectives will rely on different audiences in order to achieve them so each communication objective should target the relevant audience.

For example, if your strategic objective is to improve profit margins, your critical audiences will be your employees and supply chain.  The communication objective will be to inform them, request their co-operation, persuade them of the need and the value of your actions and, build stronger internal relationships with them. The purpose of the communication is to rally them behind your vision and align their actions and behaviours with your strategic and operational objectives.   

Once you have successfully identified your operational objectives and have identified each of the audiences that will be critical to achieving them, your communication objectives will clearly set out: The purpose of the communication; who it is targeted towards, and; the desired reaction or outcome you want to achieve with each of them.

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