How to Develop your Communications Strategy

Purpose

Coming up with a good strategy starts with understanding the problem. Having a solid understanding of the problem you want to address allows you to propose a meaningful solution because you keep the reasons “why” top of mind.

Clearly laying out the purpose of your communications and knowing what change needs to happen will ensure your strategy is relevant. Know your “why”, then use that to focus your strategy and guide your plan. If you find yourself not really being able to define “why” the communications are needed, go back and involve other stakeholders to get their input.

Connect with your audience

A meaningful strategy needs to resonate with your audience (or audiences), so make the effort to understand who they are. You may only have some demographic information to start with, but use that to dig deeper.

You must consider audience interests, values, beliefs, pains, and desires to really start crafting messages that resonate with them. Understanding your audience helps you form a strategy that will be effective because you will gain insight into what your audience really cares about.

Think about the most meaningful communications or advertising that you’ve seen. It likely “spoke to you” for many reasons, but most importantly, because you were the specific audience for it. Clever marketers and communications people meticulously targeted the messaging and imagery to resonate with you, through channels you will see.

When you know your audience well, you can begin to connect with them on an emotional level by connecting with things they care about and framing messages in a way that they will understand.

Consider expanding your research to include interviews or focus groups with your target audience, create a customer avatar, or work on an empathy map.

Begin with the end in mind

As mentioned, developing an effective strategy requires you to identify the change you want to see. Try to consider the situation through the lens and language of your audience. What do they want to happen? What decisions do they need to make? What information do they need?

Understand the problem, connect it with a solution that resonates with your audience, and think of the most effective way to get them there. Putting some thought into your goals and objectives will help you to reflect on the possibilities and constraints you are facing. Consider doing a SWOT analysis to gain insight into the current situation and the potential opportunities and threats.


A SWOT analysis can help you to understand the situation and form an effective strategy.

A SWOT analysis can help you to understand the situation and form an effective strategy.


Setting Goals and Objectives

Creating goals and objectives for your communications strategy is useful since goals will guide your decisions, frame your messaging, and tie together the pieces of your plan. Goals are usually the more broad or general results you want to achieve. Objectives on the other hand are always specific and measurable. For example, you may have a strategy that involves increasing sales by enhancing relationships with current customers. You could then have a goal of enhancing customer relations through phone check ins and follow ups, with multiple objectives of calling 15 contacts per day, and selling new services to 2 customers per day as part of reaching that goal. The objectives connect to the goals as part of an overarching strategy.

Select goals and objectives that are meaningful to your project or campaign, and ensure that your objectives are clear and measurable so that others can understand them and their success can be evaluated.

Review

If you’ve given thought to all of the areas mentioned above, you are probably getting close to developing a working strategy. Follow up with stakeholders involved in the various phases of development and get their updated opinions. Connect with potential audience members or customers and get their thoughts. Remember, this is not for you, it is about connecting with them, and your good idea is useless if your audience doesn’t get it.

Go over your proposed strategy again and double check that it will resonate with your audience and be possible to implement in the way you describe. Make any necessary changes, sleep on it, and read it again in a day or two. If it still seems compelling, you probably now have a strategy that can be used for effective communications!