Communication plays a fundamental role in our daily lives, as well as in companies, public institutions and non-profit organizations. Good communication allows you to achieve a good reputation and to build both corporate brand image and product image.
Organizations communicate both internally and externally daily to manage their business effectively. So, a good communication strategy will help you and your organization to communicate effectively and meet your objectives and goals.
- The most important component of a communication strategy is not the strategy, it is the objective.
- There are many communication channels involved today, and there are many people involved in channel decisions.
- There has to be consistency between the communication budget and the communication objective. They must be inseparably linked.
What you should know about communication strategies
To develop an adequate communication strategy, we must be clear about two main things: what they are and what they are for. To understand what our target audience is and therefore the step-by-step process to carry it out effectively.
What is a communication strategy?
A communication strategy is a business and marketing tool that helps organizations determine the best approach to communicating a message or information to reach all stakeholders most effectively. They are carried out based on the interests and needs of an organization’s audiences, whose mission is to achieve objectives.
The diversity of target audiences addressed by the company and the varied forms of communication used in each case highlight the need to redouble communication efforts, so that all communication elements help to build and reinforce a favourable brand image and contribute to brand reputation (1).
What is the importance of communication strategies?
Implementing a communication strategy in your organization has a variety of benefits, including:
- Increase clarity: Having a communication strategy can help an organization increase clarity regarding how to communicate with each other or with customers. Greater clarity can help employees interact with customers more effectively because they have a well-developed understanding of key messages and communication objectives.
- Guide marketing communications: You can use your overall communications strategy as a guide for marketing communications to help the organization engage with its market and other related audiences. This will help consumers in the market to adopt a certain behaviour, which in the case of companies will consist of purchasing the product, but for public administrations and private non-profit organizations, it may consist of the dissemination and acceptance of an idea, to inform or educate the population, or in the adoption of behaviour that is beneficial to society (2).
- Maintaining consistency: Another benefit of communication strategies is the ability to maintain consistency throughout the organization. Consistency is important for both internal and external communications, as it can help customers feel that they can trust your organization.
How to create your own communication strategy
Before you start, you have to take into account several aspects for your communication strategy to be successful. Below we will show you some steps to follow that will be of great help in this process.
1. Analyze your company’s current situation
Briefly write down what your organization does, what its main functions are and where it operates. You should also consider your organization’s communication strengths, i.e., what has been successful and what has not worked well over the past few years. To help you analyze your organization’s current situation, you can use the following tools.
- PEST analysis: This allows you to identify the political, economic, social and technological factors that could affect your organization’s work. These can be positive or negative factors and should include issues that are likely to have an impact on your organization’s performance.
- SWOT analysis: This consists of listing your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. How can you turn threats into opportunities? How can you leverage your strengths through effective communications?
2. Determine what your objective is
An objective is a statement that expresses the results to be achieved at the end of the research, among the characteristics it needs to cover are: it must be feasible and measurable (3).
Analyze the overall vision, goals and core objectives of your organization and how communications can help achieve these objectives. In addition to referring to specific objectives, this section should give a general sense of the communications principles that underpin the strategy and the key messages the organization wants to convey. These objective statements can help guide your plan, provide parameters and discuss the types of results you expect to see as a result of the strategy.
Ask yourself the questions:
- What do I want to achieve by communicating this information?
- What is it for?
- Why is it necessary?
3. Define your target audience
In this step, you have to identify your main audiences, i.e. the people your organization is trying to reach. It is important to recognize the group of people who are most likely to buy your product or service. You can do this by collecting data through surveys, Google Analytics and website traffic.
Sometimes you will find that you have many audiences that you need to interact with, in this case, you should analyse which audiences will be interested in which parts of your organization. Understanding this can make your communication work easier.
4. Establish a viable budget
When setting a budget for your communication strategy, keep in mind that there must be coherence between the communication budget and the communication objective. It is often the case that overly ambitious objectives are set with very small budgets.
It is a joint effort. Analyse the size of your company, its objectives, needs and target audience so that you can establish a budget that you really have and with which you can carry out your planned goals without inconvenience.
5. Establish the message you want to convey
Once you have identified your audiences, the next step is to break down your objectives into relevant messages for each of those audiences. Start with the audiences that are the highest priority.
Remember that the messages must be relevant and appropriate to the audience. There must be continuity between messages. And that all stakeholders understand what kind of organization you are, so the message should always link to your organization’s key objectives and values.
6. Communication channels
There are several types of communication channels available for companies and organizations to implement in their internal and external communication strategies.
It is a matter of considering the appropriate channels to serve previously set goals, and then carrying out an analysis and reflection on the situation in which the company finds itself (4).
7. Work plan
Once you have identified your target audience and communication methods, the next step is to draw up a table indicating the key communication activities, budget and resources allocated to implement the strategy.
This work plan should also include timelines and identify particular events within the strategy. This will allow you to calculate clear steps toward the final objectives. Specific projects, events or publications to be carried out should be prioritized and highlighted.
8. Evaluating your strategy
It is important to execute a monitoring and evaluation plan during the development of the strategy. Create a draft plan that includes communication indicators, monitoring and evaluation methods, and tools that will be used to track progress and assess impact. These can be simple measures such as the number of responses to e-newsletters, visits to your website, or increases in donations following a mailing.
This is one of the least developed areas of communications strategy, with around 80% of clients and agencies agreeing that it is very difficult to measure the full effect of communications and 98% believing that more learning is needed in this area! (5).
Several metrics could determine whether your content is, after all, working. This chart shows the best metrics to determine if your content is successful. Ranking number one for publishers is the time users spend on the respective pages. While for brands, number one is conversions. This shows us that publishers seek to maximize their audience on the page. While for brands, online content is more of a means to an end, which is to transform users into consumers.
What types of communication strategies exist?
A launch strategy is a plan designed to unveil a product or service to the market. It involves a sequence of steps and actions by different team members leading up to the product launch date. The launch strategy includes sharing new features or products to get people to use the product and growing the brand as much as possible.
This strategy is important to attract customers and gain momentum in the market. Not only will they discover the product, but they will also learn about your company and possibly other products. A product launch is a great opportunity to turn interested people into loyal customers.
Visibility is one of the most important goals of the company as it seeks to constantly showcase itself. This means using multiple methods to reach your customers, rather than just one or two. To implement this method, simply consider all the avenues your target customers use to get information and plan to target as many of them as possible. Also, imagine the number of positive points you will make, when the customer needs your services and finds them efficiently and through the right channel.
Trust is the foundation of sales. Forming strong relationships with customers is key to a company’s success. And one way to strengthen customer relationships is to increase customer trust.
To increase customer trust, first, create a good product. Then show your company’s values, stay transparent and build strong relationships with customers. Help them with their problems at all times. It is also helpful to display positive reviews and references.
Customer trust is important because it can help your company attract and retain loyal customers, These people later can become brand ambassadors, people who speak positively about your company and recruit other customers, allowing your company to increase its customer base and enhance its reputation. Reputation is the result of the behaviour developed by the company over time and describes its ability to distribute value to the aforementioned stakeholders: employees, suppliers, customers, and investors (6).
A positioning strategy helps you establish where your company is in the market and how it should be positioned to attract more customers. A poorly positioned product is unlikely to reach its full potential no matter how well it is marketed, whereas an excellent positioning strategy can lead to excellent results.
A successful positioning strategy can help companies become an authority in their field, distinguish themselves from the competition through better brand recognition or even create new markets by identifying unmet needs among consumers.
With a strategy, a company seeks to achieve faster growth, compete, achieve higher profits, grow a brand, capitalize on economies of scale, have a greater impact or occupy a larger market share. This may involve acquiring greater market share through traditional competitive strategies, entering new markets, targeting new market segments, offering new products or services, and expanding or improving current operations.
Digital marketing strategies
A digital marketing strategy involves an assessment of specific objectives that can be achieved through digital channels. In an era where many consumers transact business on their mobile devices, a well-executed digital marketing strategy can be crucial to an organization’s success. These marketing strategies span multiple channels and approaches, such as; website and blog content, as well as online advertising, testimonials and reviews, social media, blogs and emails.
These innovations, in an accelerated pace of technological progress, have allowed the market, information channels, social networks, etc., to move online wherever the user is, and consequently have modified all the traditional standards of interpersonal relationships and commerce (7).
What communication strategies exist in Digital Marketing?
There are various digital marketing tactics, which are adjusted to meet different organizational objectives and marketing strategies. Some of these are:
Content marketing is the practice of using a company’s owned media channels to target potential customers. When businesses create and publish high-quality content regularly, they can help improve rankings and generate traffic to their website.
Used to drive engagement with a current or potential audience base or to increase customer relationships. Email marketing services are a robust tool with proven success.
Social media marketing
Organizations have found the web to be a new venue for engaging with their audiences. From the first websites to social media, the technological possibilities at the service of corporate communication have increased significantly.
This strategy allows you to reach customers and communicate corporate messages through social networks. Companies that leverage Social Media Marketing tactics effectively can reach customers directly through their preferred social channel (8).
Tips for an effective communication strategy
Here are some tips to take into account to make your communication strategy more effective.
- Always keep in mind that your communication strategy should define the most important ideas to communicate.
- Evaluate your audience, including their needs, concerns, interests and expectations.
- Document successes and failures to know how to improve your strategy.
- Revise your communication strategy as many times as necessary, if you consider that it is not working.
- Consult your communication strategy frequently to remind yourself of its objectives, messages and audiences.
Effects of good communication strategies and consequences of unsuccessful communication strategies
An effective communication strategy can help organizations improve overall workforce productivity, create a positive presence for the organization in the marketplace, and instil a sense of trust among employees. These factors play an important role in the success of a business.
Conversely, a poor communication strategy can lead to external problems, which affect customers. If the organization fails to prioritize communication and ensure that employees are connected to the company’s goals, they are likely to experience a variety of negative outcomes. Such as low sales, poor positioning in web traffic, bad reviews and user experiences, which will end up ruining the brand’s image and reputation.
It is clear how important it is to create a comprehensive communication plan from the beginning, since it will help you to better understand your organization’s target message and to be able to communicate with your audience at all times.
By identifying the right audience, highlight what sets your brand apart and maintain a unified brand identity to strengthen the bond with your audience, achieve great results and advance the success of your business.
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3. Avila Baray, H.L. (2006) Introduction to research methodology. Electronic edition. Source
4.Piñeiro Otero T. and Costa Sánchez C. Multimedia communication strategies [Online]. Barcelona: Editorial UOC, 2014. Source
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6. Cavaller V. and Sánchez Añón S. Strategies and management of online and offline communication [Online]. Barcelona: Editorial UOC, 2014. Source
7.Cavaller V. and Sánchez Añón S. Estrategias y gestión de la comunicación online y offline [En Línea]. Barcelona: Editorial UOC, 2014. Source
8.Piñeiro Otero T. and Costa Sánchez C. Multimedia communication strategies [Online]. Barcelona: Editorial UOC, 2014. Source