Author: Kelly Van Fossen
November 22, 2023
Have you ever made a pie without any instructions? Unless you have an amazing memory or great baking intuition, the answer is probably no.
Okay, what about this; Have you ever implemented a marketing campaign without a strategic communication plan? Your answer should be no.
Without a set of goals, channels, and communication tactics (aka your recipe for success), your marketing pie will come out of the oven looking wonky and sad. No one wants that! But how do I find that recipe? Where do I start? Keep reading to find out.
What Is Strategic Communication?
Strategic communication is the way you distribute and/or receive a message, the channels and people used in the process, and the goals you wish to achieve at the end of the transaction. It establishes the who, what, when, where, and why, and pursues the path for successful communication.
Strategic communication is a valuable tool for day-to-day communication as well as extensive marketing campaigns. If you manage a business, you can (and should) have a strategic communication plan for your employees AND your customers/clients. Your goals differ for each audience and your strategies should reflect those differences.
You may be familiar with the GOSTE acronym. It sounds spooky, but it actually helps you avoid scary things like straying from the path toward success. GOSTE stands for goals,
objectives, strategies, tactics, and evaluation. It walks hand in hand with strategic communication, so keep it in mind as you read on. Our Managing Partner, Claire Riggs, suggests that when your marketing communication efforts seem to fall flat and you feel a shiver down your spine, it may be time to break out a GOSTE buster plan. Revisit our blog post about GOSTE, to discover how you can get your team back on track.
Why is Strategic Communication Important?
Let’s revisit the pie-baking analogy. If I gave you all the ingredients, you might be able to put two and two together and push your way through to some form of a final product. However, it’s harder that way, it’s riskier, and there’s a constant feeling of winging it. The recipe (aka your strategic communication plan) is what brings order, understanding, and security to the process.
In addition, having a communication strategy allows you to collaborate. While you may know what your goals are, your team and clients aren’t in your head with you. You may have all the right people and tools, but if you don’t know how to collaborate, communicate, and pull those resources together, you are in trouble. Strategic communication allows for mutual understanding.
How Do I Develop a Strategic Communications Strategy?
Here’s that recipe we’ve been talking about. Let’s get baking!
1.) Determine Your Goal
First and foremost, you must define the purpose of the communication. What do you hope to accomplish through the successful delivery of your message? If your goal is unclear, the rest of the steps will be too. You’ll be left with a foggy, confusing line of communication. Not fun!
This step might seem obvious, yet 51% of companies do so little as to attempt to develop aligned goals. How can you achieve your goals if you don’t know what they are? You can’t!
Your goal may be to create a new social media strategy with your creative team. Or maybe you want to create a digital holiday campaign for your business. Whatever it is, your goal should be reasonable, purposeful, and logical.
2.) Define Your Audience
It doesn’t matter how beautiful of a holiday greeting you write; if you mail it with the wrong address, the person it’s intended for will never get it and you’ve wasted your time.
In this step, you need to define who you want to receive your message. The receiver should be able to understand and act on your message to produce your desired results. If it’s the right message but the wrong audience, you won’t see the outcome you want.
Who is producing the work you need? What target audience will see your social media campaign? Who do you need to speak with to move forward? Know to whom you’re communicating.
3.) Create Your Key Message(s)
You have the who and the why, now you need the what. Decide what key messages you want to send and what you want the receiver to do with that information after they receive it.
Wait, what’s a key message? A key message is the main takeaway you want people to remember; it’s the big idea.
This step is an extension of your goal and addresses the specifics involved in achieving it. Include top expectations, required deliverables, and calls to action.
Let’s say my goal is to have my employee write a blog article for me. The key messages I would prioritize when requesting this work would be the topic, the deadline, and any other bits of information that I want my employee to focus on.
4.) Choose Your Channel(s) of Communication
How are you going to get your message out there?
IMPORTANT NOTE! There are many, many, many ways to share a message. You can communicate with your audience face-to-face, over the phone, through billboards and physical ads, through email or mail, or on social media. And that’s just scratching the surface! The key is to determine what channel(s) would have the highest likelihood of achieving the goals you set in step one.
If you are struggling to understand marketing tools and channels in relation to promoting your business, read our blog post that discusses how traditional and modern marketing communication tools can help you reach your goals.
5.) Decide on the Timeline
Timing is key. You don’t want a message to be received too early that the receiver forgets what you said by the time it matters. You also don’t want to deliver it too late that the receiver can’t do anything useful with the message by the time they get it.
How often are you sending promotional emails? How often do you post on social media? What deadlines have you set for your employees to finish their work?
It never hurts to have check-ins or benchmarks. Consider scheduling a weekly meeting with your team. Request reports on the last Friday of every month. Call your clients to check in on a routine basis. Create a practical schedule that works for you and your goals.
6.) Send the Message
At last, you have the who, what, when, where, and why you need to successfully execute your strategic communications plan (whoop whoop). After taking the time to consider and plan each step of the process carefully, you should have a sense that you’re headed in the right direction.
How Do I Know That My Strategic Communication Plans Are Working?
Remember GOSTE? This is where the “E” for “evaluation” comes into play. Look at where you were and where you are now. Are you closer to your goals or further away? What worked and what didn’t? What changes do you need to make? Don’t view adjustments to your plan as a negative activity but as an opportunity to achieve even greater results.
But how do I know if my evaluations are correct? Am I making the right adjustments? While it is great to have a casual understanding of your strategic communication plan, seeking professional help can accelerate your goals and ensure you are on the right track. In fact, nearly 75% of companies that have outsourced marketing indicate an increased return on investment as a result.
Working with professionals who have experience producing successful strategic communication plans is like baking alongside Martha Stewart. Professional guidance makes the planning process easy, takes the stress off your shoulders, and gives you the confidence you need for decision-making.
Want a Piece of the Pie?
Tis the season for not only pie making, but also plan making. As you round out the fourth quarter and set new goals for 2024, consider the benefits of baking with a proven strategy. If you need assistance developing your strategic communications strategy, Riggs Creative Group is here to help! Call us at (856) 716-6936 or click here for more information.