How to Develop an EFFECTIVE Long-Term Marketing Communications Plan
The famous adage that “no man is an island” can be applied to companies, too. No company can survive on its own without identifying its audiences, defining key messages, and communicating those key points to its audiences in a consistent manner.
As we’re approaching the end of the year, we’re reviewing the annual marketing communications plans for clients and updating, revising and planning for the new year.
Whether you are just adding communications strategies to your business objectives for 2024 or you’ve been working on a plan for a long time, there are several important reasons why having a solid plan should be a valued part of your business success.
- Sharpen your message. In the age of fast-paced information delivery, most of us on information-overload. Even with a plan in place, you can still spend time in the wrong place with the wrong information to reach your target audience. However, by defining the key messages of your organization and linking those messages to your audience, you are establishing the communications groundwork for your organization.
- Take advantage of opportunities. Once you’ve put together a communications plan for your organization, you can much more easily decide on appropriate communications outlets for your messaging. You will be able to seek out and take advantage of media opportunities, partnerships, news of the day, etc.
- Develop the timeline. A well-organized and defined plan should also provide you with a timeline for implementation.
- Get buy-in from others. Don’t develop the plan in a silo. A good plan requires broad participation from your organization. Taking into account the roles and responsibilities of others in the organization will give you a better understanding of their needs and how marketing communications can assist them.
- Determine your goals. As with any plan, the starting point is setting your goals. What do you want to achieve?
- How do you want your organization to be perceived? How people perceive your organization is critical to your communications planning. If your long-term plan calls for your company to radically differ from current viewpoints about your organization, then your plan must address these changes. If not, the plan can focus on reinforcing current attitudes about your company.
- How do you want your issues and/or programs to be perceived? Are your issues seen as issues by the public? How is each of your issues currently “framed” in the public debate? Who is perceived as the problem, and who is perceived as part of the solution?
- What are your strategies to reach these audiences? Here is the point where many start their communications planning. It’s often very easy for people to jump right in with strategies, without laying the crucial groundwork that makes up a plan. Fortunately, by going through a planning process that has led to specific objectives, clear messages and target audiences, your task of coming up with strategies is much easier and more effective.
- What resources can you devote? You may have developed great strategies for communicating well-honed messages, but if you have few resources to devote to this task, you won’t accomplish much. It is important to take into account hard costs as well as soft costs when developing your plan.
- Who does what, and when? An itemized list of tasks and assignments will make the plan operational for the organization. Make sure that each person or group clearly understands their role.
An effective, specific communications plan is a MUST for every organization. With foresight and careful planning, an effective plan can be carried out with much success.
The question is, can we help you craft your plan?