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Communication Strategy Tips for Absolute Beginners

Communications Strategy Tips for Small to Medium Businesses

What companies say is important, but so is how they say it, where they say it, and who they say it to. The decisions you make about this are all part of your communications strategy. 

In marketing, your company’s communication strategy is the approach you take to reaching your target audience and promoting your product or service to them. 

How you design your communications strategy will affect not only how successful your company is, but also how it is perceived by the public.

In this post, we introduce you to the top 10 tips that will help you create a more effective communications strategy. 

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1. Know what your communication strategy involves 

Every communication strategy is made up of three main components: 

  • The message. What you’re actually trying to communicate to your audience. This might be general, like informing potential customers about your business, or more specific, like promoting a deal. 
  • The medium. The channel of communication via which you communicate to your audience. This might be a social media feed, display ads, or print media. 
  • The target. This is the individual or group you’re hoping to reach with your message. These might be potential customers or existing customers. 

2. Define your goals 

Goal Planning in Notebook

Before you do anything else, make sure you know what you want to achieve with your marketing strategy. 

The decisions you make about who your targets are, which mediums to use, and which message will be most effective should be based on your goals.  

While it might be obvious that any business wants more sales, how you frame your communications strategy will depend on your business’s current position in the market, and your target audience’s familiarity with your brand. 

You might decide that the goals of your strategy include one or more of the following:

  • Introduce new potential customers to your brand. This will involve raising your profile and spreading your name out there, but generally doesn’t include a hard push to purchase. 
  • Get more traffic to your website. The next step after raising awareness of your brand is encouraging potential customers to visit your website. Give them an incentive to stop by. 
  • Encourage potential customers to connect on social media. Users who follow your brand on social media are much easier to target with promotional material. 
  • Convert engagement into customers. You might be lucky enough to have a strong following on social media or a good amount of traffic to your website. Your strategy could be to turn this engagement into sales. 
  • Reengage existing customers to make new purchases. Your comms strategy doesn’t always need to be about new customers. You might simply want to get existing customers back to your store. 

3. Take time to get to know your target audience 

Remember how the ‘target’ of your communications is one of the key factors in deciding your message and medium? 

Well, this means it’s crucial to understand who your target audience is, where they can be found, and what kind of message with resonate with them. 

You can use your existing customers, surveys, competitor research, keyword research, or other techniques to identify your most likely targets.  

The mediums you use should reflect where your potential audience spends time online and off, and the kind of media they consume.

Your message should reflect the interests and needs of your target audience. 

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4. Understand what makes you special 

All companies should have a clear unique selling proposition (USP). 

This is the factor or factors which make the company stand out from its competitors, whether its products or services are better quality, cheaper, faster, or come with world-class customer support. 

Your USP should be at the core of all your messaging across all channels. This ensures you have a consistent message, and you’re always mentioning your main appeal. 

Conduction a SWOT analysis of your company can help identify your USP. You do this by listing your:

  • Strengths. This is what your company does well, including those things which set you apart from other companies similar to yours. 
  • Weaknesses. This is where your company is lacking. Think of the things that your competitors do better than you. 
  • Opportunities. Identify where you stand to gain. Look for untapped markets, or areas where you can serve a need your competitors are overlooking.  
  • Threats. What might harm your company? New competitors in the industry or changing regulations?

While your communications strategy is going to be focused on the strengths of your business, understanding your weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will help you frame your messaging too. 

5. Think of marketing communication like a cocktail

For the vast majority of businesses, you’re going to have more than one channel through which you communicate with potential customers.

What’s more, these channels should not operate in isolation. 

To have the most impactful communications strategy, you should mix your communications channels, each one supporting the other. 

When we’re talking about communications channels, you might consider such things as:

  • Online advertising. This includes any kind of paid advertising online, like display or video ads. 
  • Content marketing. This might include utilizing social media or search engine marketing. 
  • Direct marketing. If you have some way of contacting targets directly, you can tailor the message to their interests. 
  • Offline marketing. This includes print advertising, billboards, or out of home advertising. 
  • Personal selling. This involves a representative of your company reaching out to targets personally. 

There’s any number of channels though which to reach your target audience, it’s simply about how best to reach them. 

Of course, you also need to consider the cost of using any given channel. You should always be looking for the best return on investment, even if that doesn’t necessarily mean reaching the most potential customers. 

6. Familiarize yourself with the sales funnel 

Woman at Whiteboard

The sales funnel is a useful tool which helps you define potential customers’ relationship with your company, and more importantly, the kind of communications which will be the most effective. 

In essence, the idea is that the funnel takes in a broad range of customers, and narrows them down towards making a purchase. 

There are three parts to the funnel, each of them representing a position you might target.

In each of the levels, your communication will have different goals and tactics.

Top of funnel (ToFu)

This is the broadest level, where you’re targeting the largest number of leads, and are mostly interested in spreading awareness of your brand. 

You might target customers in this part of the funnel with blog posts, eBooks, or research papers. You’re mostly trying to inform them about who your company is and what you offer. 

Middle of funnel (MoFu) 

Targets in this part of the funnel have a problem you can solve, but don’t necessarily know you’re the company to fix it yet. 

In this part of the funnel, you might consider serving up podcasts, videos, or comparison guides. This is about gently demonstrating how your company can solve their problem without pushing them into a hard sell.

Bottom of funnel (BoFu)

At the bottom of the funnel, you’ve whittled your prospective customers down to those most likely to make a purchase. 

These leads will know who you are, and are likely aware you can solve their problem. However, they’ve not fully decided to make their purchase with you. 

At this point, you might offer them case studies, consultations, or even a free trial to encourage them to buy with you. 

7. Remember that images are as important as words

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the message you’re trying to spread, and it’s easy to think of this only as the words you use, but keep in mind that what customers see is just as important as what they read or hear. 

When designing your communications strategy, you’re thinking about how you want to represent your brand. This extends to the kind of aesthetic you want to associate your product or service with. 

If your brand already has a strongly defined visual identity, then any new communications should adhere to wha’ts already established. However, if you’re starting from scratch, you have the chance to define your look too. 

If you’re not a designer yourself, it pays to employ a third-party graphic designer to help you get the look you want. 

Make sure this look stays consistent across all communications. 

8. Ensure your website and social profiles are ready to receive

Website on Laptop and Desktop

There’s no point in creating an effective and engaging communications strategy if potential customers are going to be put off when they land on your website of social media profiles. 

Behind every good communication strategy is a firm structure of landing pages and calls to action which are designed to take the engagement of potential customers and convert it into sales. 

With this in mind, before you launch your communications campaign, you should do a big review of your website, check that it’s appealing and that there’s a clear path for visitors to convert. 

If you’re sending traffic to your social media profiles, make sure they’re up to date, and invite visitors to connect with you. 

9. Define success and track results 

You know what your goals are, but what are your success metrics? It’s important to turn your overall aims into measurable factors which you can use to gauge your success. 

This might be clicks, conversions, sales, or something else unique to your company. You could have one main metric, or a series of related metrics. 

Make sure you understand what your success metrics will be, how you’ll measure them, and what you’ll be comparing them to. Are you performing better than last quarter? Better than your competition?

The amount of helpful data you can harvest from your communications campaigns will depend upon the channel you’re using. 

For example, if you’re publishing print ads, it’s almost impossible to know which customers ended up purchasing after seeing them. However, if you’re running display ads, you’ll see exactly who clicked on them. 

Try and collect as much information as you can about the performance of your campaigns. 

10. Learn from your previous experience

While we can offer you all the advice we can think of for developing a communications strategy, the best way to learn is from your own experience. 

Since each business is unique, your path to success in communications is also unique. There’s no one size fits all strategy for marketing. 

This is why collecting data and analysing the performance of each campaign is so important. Take a look at what’s worked for you in the past and what hasn’t. Lean into the tactics which paid off, and stop doing what doesn’t. 

Whether it’s a unique customer insight, a channel which overperformed, or simply a slogan which attracted attention, always incorporate past success into future strategy. 

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Duncan is obsessed with making website building and eCommerce accessible to everyone. He explains the best tools and the latest digital marketing trends in ways that are clear and engaging. His focus is on supporting the sustainable growth of small to medium-sized enterprises. When not writing, he enjoys deep sea fishing and endurance cycling.

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