In a three-part series focusing on communications and marketing planning, we shared the “why” behind having a well thought out plan in part 1. In part 2, we highlighted specific strategies. Finally, in part 3, we take a look at the tactical side of a sound communications plan.
Assess, Strategize, Implement: Putting Your Communication Plan into Action
As your marketing and communication plan progresses (link to template), you have defined your goals and objectives. You have brainstormed strategies and pinpointed your unique value proposition. Your branding statement and customer personas are complete. But what are you actually going to DO to achieve that well-crafted list of goals and objectives?
You’ve come to the point when you will set out specific ways to approach and accomplish each goal. These are the action steps you and your team will take to implement the plan. For example, say you want to increase your website traffic by 10 percent over the next six months. It’s a reasonable objective, but how are you going to get there? You may want to focus on:
- Blogging with SEO best practices in mind
- Updating social media, sharing your blog posts as they are published or promoting other links to your website
- Launching a social media advertising campaign that directs viewers to your website
- Ensuring that all your “traditional” media and collateral material include your website address with a call to action to learn more at the site
Make note of your website traffic before you embark on your new efforts so that in six months’ time, you can measure your progress and determine if you need to make any changes.
Ready for another example? Let’s say you have launched a new product and one goal is to create awareness among your target markets with a strategy to identify and use specific media channels for each target audience. You could launch a multi-faceted awareness campaign that might encompass:
- Social media announcements about the new product with links to your website’s landing page. Be sensitive to the lifestyles and generational perspectives of your target market – Will you post on Facebook to reach Boomers and older Millennials; Instagram to connect with Millennials, GenX and some GenZ; LinkedIn to reach the business community: or perhaps Tik-Tok for the GenZers? More on generational research from expert Jason Dorsey. (link to JasonDorsey.com). For the creative economy, take a look at Etsy and Pinterest.
- A video presentation of the product for your website and YouTube
- A press release to send to local/regional/industry media about the new innovation
- Adapt the press release to multi-task as a blog post on your website, posting the link on social media
- A display at a relevant trade show or farmer’s market (for a new food product, for example). Sample giveaways.
- Paid media (online or traditional print and broadcast) with a special introductory offer
- A special event to have a VIP “preview” of the new product
When listing communication action steps, keep in mind that media is segmented into: owned, paid, and earned media. The content you create for your website, social media, collateral materials is owned; the advertising you place online or in print or broadcast is paid; and the attention you garner from third party sources is earned. This third component is extremely important and often overlooked. What tactics can you employ to enhance earned media?
- Position the business owner/innovator as the expert in his/her/their field
- Create a strong bio with reasons why this person is the expert
- Write short, dynamic quotes in press releases that are easy for media to pick up and requote
- Develop a news release schedule, sending out one or two press releases per month to targeted publications/online media
- Link your business with other “like” companies and associates to keep top of mind
- Take part in continuing education opportunities where networking is involved
- Apply for speaking engagements to other business leaders
- Seek out mentoring opportunities
- Follow relevant reporters for online and traditional media, like and comment on their stories before sharing your own relevant story
- Connect with community organizations commensurate with your business’ values – build relationships with members
- Embrace a social cause near and dear to your heart to give time, treasure, or talent in meaningful, authentic ways
Remember there are only 168 hours in a week and as a small business owner, you will have to delegate and/or tackle your tactics in phases. Do you have a social media whiz on staff who can create a calendar and post your messages? A family member who thrives on planning events? There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and compensating for it, when you need it. With a solid plan and accompanying calendar, you can be well on your way to implementing the tactics that will help you achieve your business goals.
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