There are certain characteristics that should be at the core of any successful business. For example, every business should have a great product or service, great people to keep the internal engine running, and loyal customers to assist with purchases and legal support.
There must also be underlying elements in order to identify the above characteristics. And one of the most important is clear and effective communication.
Communication is at the root of every business interaction. Without transparent communication at every level, there is more room for error and – depending on the size of the error – a company can make or break it.
While 89% of people think communication is extremely important to work, 8 out of 10 people rate their own company’s communication as average or poor.
Developing a communication strategy for your company will help you understand how your company is best communicating internally and externally, and can provide you with measurable results to better understand the effectiveness of your communication tactics.
In this post we explain how to create and plan a communication strategy for your company to ensure efficient and coherent communication with colleagues and customers alike.
What is a communication strategy?
A communication strategy is a process that is developed by the appropriate stakeholders to determine where communication efforts need to be improved. The next step in this process is to develop and select measurable actions that will be used to develop a communication plan to achieve the desired outcome.
How to develop a communication strategy
- Use a communication plan template.
- Identify current and potential problems.
- Pick key stakeholders who need to be involved.
- Understand your audience and what is most important to them.
- Think about your ideal results and then work backwards.
1. Use a communication plan template.
HubSpot’s communication plan templates are a great resource that you can use to develop actionable steps without spending too much time on this task.
Your communication plan clearly describes all the steps you need to take to address the challenges, such as: Such as completing an audit, setting SMART goals, and understanding how long each step in your plan will take. Depending on your overall strategy, you may develop multiple plans that need to be implemented to meet the needs of different audiences.
You should break your plan down into steps so that you can easily make and measure progress on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Additionally, when creating your communication plan, you need to consider a work schedule and potential budget and make sure that you delegate tasks to the appropriate team members.
Over time, you want to be able to reflect on what changes have been made and whether those changes are actively helping you achieve your ideal results.
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2. Identify current and potential problems.
Recognizing the issues that are hampering your company’s communication efforts is the first and most important step in developing a solid communication strategy.
First, ask questions like:
- Do we have internal or external communication problems?
- If external, does this apply to all channels of customer communication or to a specific team or department?
- Internally, is this a company-wide problem, or is it a specific team or department?
- Is there a specific problem that consistently occurs? If so, what is the problem?
- What are the issues that are inconsistent but still pose challenges?
Ideally, the more questions you ask, the better you can identify areas for improvement that will influence your overall strategy. If you have trouble asking questions, reach out to team members at your company and / or your customers.
You can take surveys, start organic conversations in the office or on social media, schedule one-on-one meetings – whatever you think are the most relevant answers.
When there are issues that directly affect employees or customers of the company, employees are more willing to provide feedback. It’s also possible that someone is already working to find a solution to some of the problems you identified – which brings us to our next step.
3. Select the key stakeholders who need to be involved.
After asking the right questions, you need to make sure that you are bringing in the right people to help you develop your communication strategy.
If you work in a smaller organization, you may be the only person you need on your team. However, for larger organizations, you will most likely want to involve some of your employees in order to share and conquer.
The choice of people involved should relate directly to the major challenges that you identified from your questionnaire. If the most pressing challenge is customer-centric, you may want to involve someone from your company’s customer service or customer success team. If there is a problem with promoting or selling a product or service, contact a representative on your marketing or sales team.
You should also ensure that the appropriate members of the executive team are aware and as involved as they need to be. That way, the leadership already knows what happens when you want to make major business changes like buying a new tool or restructuring teams.
If your workforce is at full capacity and doesn’t have the bandwidth to support you, or if the problems are more severe than expected, consider getting an outside agency or consultant to assist your business. For example, if you’re tackling a major external communications crisis, you can hire a PR agency.
Use your best judgment to select who will be involved and ensure that involvement is directly related to the specific challenges you have identified.
4. Understand your audience.
Understanding your audience is pretty easy. The audience is either internal (i.e. your employees and the whole company), external (i.e. your customers, shareholders, etc.), or a combination of both.
From there you can get more specific:
- Are you addressing the entire company?
- Do you contact a specific department or team?
- Do you address all customers?
- Do you only address certain customers? If so, can you segment by buyer personality or stages of the buyer journey?
It is important to take the time to understand exactly who your audience is so that you really speak to them in a way that will be well received. Once you know who your audience is, you can use audience insights to inform all the stages of development in your communication strategy.
5. Think about your ideal results, then work backwards.
In this case, use all the information gathered to suggest your ideal outcome. This is an overarching goal that is achieved through the implementation of a well thought out plan.
If your company is having trouble communicating related to events, an ideal outcome might be improving internal alignment and providing clarity to customers.
If you find that employees in your company are struggling to express their ideas or opinions, your goal may be to ensure that all employees feel heard by developing a specific feedback system.
Whatever you state as your ideal outcome, keep it simplified so that it is easy for everyone to understand. It should have weight because you face challenges, but it shouldn’t be too complex either. Imagine this as the central model or model of your communication strategy. The details will come later.
Developing an effective strategy is a process and can take a few different tries before figuring out what works best. However, it is a necessary investment to ensure that you are communicating clearly and in the best possible way.
Read how to create an effective communication plan [+ Template] and download HubSpot’s free communication template to help you achieve all of your communication strategy goals.