Communication is a process that plays a fundamental role not only in interpersonal relationships, but also in any self-respecting company, which is why its preventive planning is necessary.
Well, let's get straight to the point: what is a Communication Plan ?
It is a strategic document that has the main task of guiding all the communication activities necessary to achieve the set objectives. A good communication plan expresses the right concept at the right time, planning with which means, budget and timing the message will be conveyed outside. It can be about the long-term activities of a company or just the launch of a new product / service. Some plans may have a multi-year duration and are generally updated during construction.
In this article you will be able to consult a simple model consisting of 5 steps, which will allow you to better set up your communication strategy. Let's go immediately!
1. DEFINE YOUR COMMUNICATION GOALS
What do you want to achieve? What are your goals? If a marketing objective aims to reach a certain market share or to increase sales in percentage terms, a communication objective is about the perception of the product in your typical customer. If marketing aims to "distribute a new GPS digital watch in electronic retail chains, with a promotional launch price that generates a peak sales", that of communication will "convey to the target that the watch is a trendy item , ideal for leisure time, but at the same time perfect to be worn also at work ".
Obviously, communication also has the ultimate goal of selling, but, as we know, the sales funnel requires several steps. We must therefore define a logical flow: if the macro-objective is to sell, the micro-objectives must concern all those activities that favor, more or less directly, the sale.
Furthermore, the objectives must be SMART
Specific: Goals need to be very detailed and not refer to anything generic. What we want to do? How do we want to do it? When do we want to complete them? Who do we want to involve and why do we need to reach them?
Measurable: you will need to understand in quantitative terms whether the objectives have been achieved or how far away they are. The more specific they are, the more you will be able to measure them.
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Accessible: the objectives must be designed according to what we have available: skills, economic resources, tools, etc. If you don't take these parameters into consideration, you risk throwing everything upside down.
Realistic: it is easy to get carried away and aim for unattainable goals, but remember that the goals must be concrete and be reflected in reality.
Timeable: they must be limited to a specific time frame.
2. IDENTIFY BUYER PERSONAS
Who do you want to contact?
The communication plan must accurately identify the company's potential customers. Very often for the web we talk about user profiling, almost as if we were to take on the role of an investigator and trace a psycho-physical identikit of the group of people we want to reach.
The communication target is a psycho-sociological-cultural diversification of the marketing target. If marketing identifies the macro target - "young people aged 20 to 35 residing in large cities in northern Italy" - the communication tries to get to know them better: "young people aged 25 to 35, with university education, wealthy and interested in the world of technology ".
You will have to describe the buyer personas, i.e. the recipients of your messages, trying to segment them as much as possible also from a socio-cultural point of view, not neglecting their digital and purchasing habits.
Personas identification consists in carefully defining groups of users on the basis of common characteristics, providing them with what they are looking for / want through ad hoc content. Only in this way will you be sure that you have intercepted the right potential customers to talk to.
Following an in-depth investigation, Eurisko has proposed a new segmentation of the Italian population by lifestyles, summarized in the so-called Great Synoptic Map. It is a Cartesian diagram (divided into boxes) on which the various consumers are ideally positioned.
The Big Map has two priority functions:
understand the socio-demographic, cultural, behavioral, consumption and use logics of the media;
allow, within this general scheme, the definition of the target of a product / service.
The Big Map: axes, vectors and polarities
The Big Map: the socio-demographic and cultural characteristics of the areas
3. CHOOSE THE COMMUNICATION MIX
"The medium is the message." Marshall McLuhan
The various offline and online means we have to convey messages determine the message itself from the point of view of communication.
The choice of companies usually falls on a mix of tools, since we tend to consider effective communication as the one that uses more means to reach the maximum percentage of targets. The mix can be online, offline or both, but it must in any case be optimized to the best for a return on investment. The communication plan of an SME can only foresee some of the many existing means, while that of a structured multinational will be able to exploit several tools at the same time.
Various experts in the sector have theorized the Strategic 4Ps of Communication that constitute the so-called commnunication mix. Let's see them together in detail:
Sales promotion is a lever that marketing uses to push the consumption of a product at a certain point in its life cycle. The promotional objectives will thus be transmitted with a strong persuasive charge . We can consider sales promotions:
It is the sale of product / service made directly by people. At that moment the seller represents the company and has the task of communicating the brand in the best way, through a correct body language, using assertive communication and resorting to the use of empathy. In B2B personal selling is called industrial selling, in B2C retail selling.
The company can also make use of the so-called PR, that is communication actions towards an external public which can be composed according to the objectives by:
PR often also includes the press office and defines media relations at the editorial level. The PR and the online press office provide in particular for action on influencers, such as important bloggers in the reference sector.
It is a paid form of communication that allows the dissemination of a message on various online and offline media. If the most powerful offline medium remains television after many years, on the online front social media are enjoying great success. (I invite you to read the following article for more information: Facebook advertising: the first steps to leave )
4. SET UP A WINNING AVERAGE STRATEGY (MEANS PLAN)
Choose the most suitable means and start your advertising campaigns.
Planning a media strategy means, given a predefined budget, choosing the means through which to convey the message outside.
The means plan is an operational document, as well as the result of an upstream strategy. Before choosing and buying advertising spaces, you need to know the world of media perfectly and understand how much they can be indicated or not for our product / service.
The target audience the advertising is targeting must match our communication target. When a media plan is made, we usually talk about an advertising campaign and flight. The advertising campaign represents the activities through which a message is declined (also in terms of content) on different media. The flight instead represents the time span in which the spots will be programmed. Some products may require a seasonal advertising campaign (such as tourist services) or before Christmas and Easter (confectionery products such as Panettoni and Colombe).
When you have defined a strategy, identified the means you want to use and choose the content to link the advertising message to, you will need to carefully evaluate the actual audience. To do this, there are services made available by specific and generally impartial companies, which vary according to the media.
For the press: Audipress ( www.audipress.it )
For the radio: RadioMonitor ( www.radiomonitor.it )
For television: Auditel ( www.auditel.it )
For the web: Audiweb ( www.audiweb.it )
5. DEVELOP AN EFFECTIVE CONTENT STRATEGY (CONTENT STRATEGY)
Content is the king!
The communication plan must also contain a content strategy, that is a series of guidelines that will then be adapted to each medium to be used.
Here are some useful tips for you:
to. The what, the how and the who must be defined. The "what" are the key themes to communicate, for example in your blog or in the newsletters you send. The "how" is the tone of the messages which in jargon is called tone of voice. The "who" is our communication target. All this must be defined on the basis of the "values" that the company decides to convey (mission and vision).
b. The objectives of the strategy must be customer oriented. The goal should not be “I want to sell more” - marketing takes care of that - but to offer that added value that users are looking for.
c. It is necessary to identify within the company who will produce and publish the content. It is not enough to write well (even if it helps), you need to know how to interpret strategic objectives. This work must be constant and organized according to a specific editorial plan.
All this must lead the content expert, called copywriter, to produce materially effective content, capable of hitting the target, achieving objectives and being consistent with the chosen medium. It makes no sense to write content in print that is not in line with the real needs of readers or on the web content far from any SEO logic.
In copy strategy there are some fundamental concepts that will guide you in your creative activities:
- BENEFIT (selling idea), that is a kind of promise. It is the reason that should push consumers to buy your product / service and not that of the competition. You will need to communicate the true identity of your product so that people can understand the benefits.
–REASON WHY, that is, a kind of justification. Why should the customer believe your advertisement? A main feature of the product is therefore why, the reason why consumers should believe your promises.
- TONE OF VOICE, that is, you will have to attribute a certain personality to your product / service, creating an emotional atmosphere around it. It is also called the character of the brand and determines the tone of the message: calm, sincere, ironic, confidential, etc.
–SUPPORTING EVIDENCE, that is a sort of certification, a tangible and evident proof that your product / service keeps the promise made. For cosmetics, for example, it can be a clinical test.
That's not all! In this communication plan, a very fundamental sixth point is missing, which deserves particular attention: the so-called Social Media Strategy .