Steps to Build a Small Business Communication Plan

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Communication is a vital tool in the functioning of a business. Yet it is often overlooked, leading to missed opportunities. However, with a sharp focus and strategic management, your brand’s communication could help establish trust with your customer and provide substantial benefits.
Steps to Build a Small Business Communication Plan
Effective communication is a key component of your overall marketing plan. It could help you improve your brand image and drive purchase decisions. It can also help you build strong business relations, both within your team and with your potential and existing customers. But in order to execute effective business communication you will need to develop a proper communication plan. Here are some important steps to creating and following a robust communication plan.
Steps to creating and following a robust communication plan

1. Define the purpose

Think about what you want to achieve with your communication strategy and break it down into short-term and long-term goals. For example, your short-term goals can be to increase sales in the next quarter by 20%, while your long-term goal could be to increase conversion rate in the next 18 to 24 months. Business communications play a critical role in achieving these short- and long-term goals. Growing your social media presence, promoting an event, launching a new product or service are some good examples of communications that help you work towards achieving your goals. You need to clearly write down your objective before moving on to the next step.

2. Define who you are talking to

Before you proceed further, you need to answer a very important question: who are you talking to? You can establish who your audience is by identifying your target demographic. You should find out the following about your audience:
  • Their age groups
  • Their geographical location
  • Their cultural background
  • Their socioeconomic classification
You will also need to identify the right channels to reach out to your audience. It could be via a magazine, or a website. A list of publications and trade platforms with a note on the kind of audience they attract will be a handy resource when launching a product, or to promote an event.

3. Define your company’s strengths

When you communicate your brand’s voice through any marketing channel, it is important to highlight your unique positioning, especially in a highly competitive market. While developing the communication plan for your small business, you will need to clearly define your company’s strengths and unique attributes and turn them into a competitive advantage.

4. Decide on content creation formats

When it comes to communication there are quite a few ways to speak to your audience. You can choose from small formats for easy consumption, visually powerful creatives that convey your brand’s voice, or longer formats that discuss your message to the audience in great detail. Your choice of content format is determined by the objective at hand. For example, to achieve your short-term goals, you can opt for easy and cost-effective ways like setting up blogs or email newsletters. As a long-term goal, it may be worth investing in creating YouTube videos by starting a YouTube channel. Invest in YouTube paid campaigns to boost your reach. You could also use this as an opportunity to establish your brand as a leader in your area of business by publishing blogs and videos on topics where you have a competitive edge.

5. Create a content calendar

Communication calendars are an important part of your marketing plan. However, every year, reports are published that show that most businesses do not have well defined plan. Creation of a weekly and monthly calendar allows you to outline when your content will be released and what it will consist of.
Create a content calendar
A communication calendar will help you:
  • Be more strategic with what you communicate, and when and how you do it
  • Plan your efforts to avoid last minute scrambles
  • Develop full-fledged campaigns that help in your brand’s positioning
  • Avoid too much or too little communication with your customer
Planning about your content in advance is important, as this sets the roadmap for you to follow. But at the same time you must also be prepared to make necessary changes in your schedule as and when required.

6. Reach out to your audience

Once you have a content calendar, it’s time to start communicating. Apart from following the content calendar, you must undertake the following activities:
  • Send out personalized emails to your customers and prospects
  • Encourage social referrals
  • Use targeted ads to increase reach and effectiveness
  • Register with popular directories
  • Participate in social forums and discussion groups (LinkedIn for B2B companies)
  • Organize webinars and podcasts
  • Create videos and use social platforms for sharing and promoting among your target audience
Reach out to your audience

7. Set business slogans and taglines

When talking to your audience you want your target audience to remember what you are saying. This can be achieved by using creative and catchy taglines and slogans. Your taglines and slogans need to be creative enough to grasp the attention of your audience, but not too complicated to understand and remember. At the same time, you must ensure that they align with your brand image and reflect your product’s attributes.

8. Create a concise message describing the business and its unique value proposition

The message that you want to communicate must highlight your company's strengths. In order to identify your unique selling point you will need to research your products and competitors. Ask yourself what is it that your company offers that others do not? How are you better than them? What makes people buy your products? Is it the quality that you offer or is it your service? After you have understood your strengths, focus on that in your messaging. For example, when you are posting a promotional blog, ensure that it describes your business and the unique services your company offers. The message should be simple and clear and be aligned with your brand image.

9. Choose a target audience

Depending upon your content, your target audience can be your investors, customers, shareholders, employees, or even government officials. Once you have decided on your target audience, tailor your messages so that your audience can relate to them from the very beginning. For example, the message you send to an employee and your small business investors should not be the same. You need to personalize your communications to meet the specific needs of the audience.

10. Select the right communication channels

Choose a communication channel that is best suited to reach out to your target audience. Different mediums come with their own sets of pros and cons. Communication channels that offer a wider reach can incur intensive costs. On the other hand, a smaller reach will fail to do justice to your messaging. In order to determine the right mix of communication channels that suits your business needs, you must do a thorough cost analysis of the options at hand and finalize your channels accordingly. Remember, the channels you choose should be popular among your target audience and must be considered credible by them.

11. Execute your plan

Once your message is ready and you have identified the communication channels – it is now time to execute your plan. You should not merely implement your plan but also monitor it and try to remove any barriers in the process well in time.
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