A communication strategy is essential for a good marketing strategy - but it isn’t a marketing strategy itself. Our MD, Veronica Wainstein, explains what goes into a good communication strategy in this post.
Your communication strategy (comm strat) essentially directs everything else your business does. It’s the foundation to your marketing strategy, and keeps your brand in line for all of its future communication.
So what exactly is a communication strategy?
A communication strategy is your big picture that directs and shapes all of your marketing efforts.
In a communication strategy workshop, we’ll ask a series of questions to really dig into some big questions about who you are as a brand:
- Aside from what you sell - who are you?
- What value do you add to your customers? (What is your value proposition to your customers?)
- What problems are you solving for your customers?
- What are your objectives as a brand?
- What are the values of the business and the individuals working in the business?
- How do you sound (what tone do you use) when communicating?
- You think you’re selling x (your product) but you’re actually selling y (a lifestyle, an idea, an emotion…) - what is it you’re really selling?
Remember, people don’t buy only on price or a product being the “best”
No matter how much we like to think that we just buy products randomly and walk into a shop and just pick stuff off the shelf - we don’t. Shoppers justify every single one of their purchases, even if their justification is “my mom used to use this product”. No matter the justification, there's also a reason behind that justification. So for me in the "mom" example above, you’re justifying the purchase with nostalgia and comfort, “it must work, otherwise my mom wouldn't have bought it, and I trust my mom's opinion”. So if the value proposition of the brand was around trust, familiarity and enabling those things, I'm going to continue to buy the product.
It doesn’t matter what we’re buying, whether it's the most random thing in the world, we will justify our purchases, whatever the reason is! And if that brand matches your values, your bias, you are more likely to buy it because it resonates with you. And that's why it's important to do a communication strategy that helps you understand your value. Your value proposition is what you're promising people every time they buy a product/service, to allow buyers to justify the purchase easily with a sense of comfort. And to me it sounds like a lot of brands don’t always get this right, and don't understand the importance of looking beyond what you actually sell.
This gives you customer loyalty. Prices may fluctuate, things may change, but your value proposition should be the golden thread your customer clings to.
Why do you need a communication strategy?
If you’re not 100% sure who you are, or what you’re selling, you are the perfect fit for a communication strategy. It’s easy for a brand to sound a little schizophrenic in their messaging - and to forget that you are selling more than a product. It’s the “more than a product” that differentiates you from your competitors, and that helps people choose you for more than just a competitive price.
In my experience, brands without a communication strategy will try new and different messages all the time hoping that one of them will resonate with the customers... and it actually just makes the brand sound like it’s all over the place, and doesn’t build brand loyalty. So you start to dilute your message, because you’re trying to target everybody. Your metric becomes “reaching as many people as possible” instead of aiming for the right people in the right way (this is also a good marketing budget tip - directional marketing instead of a “spray and pray” approach). In most cases, you don't need to reach hundreds and thousands of people. You need to get at least two to three really good leads a month (in the case of a B2B environment). In B2C we don’t always need to reach the entire population - it’s unrealistic, so the communication strategy allows you to focus your budget on who you are most likely to convert in the shortest space of time. And so it allows you to focus and determines the right message that the content needs to incorporate because if there's a lot of messages, it's hard for us to break down what the insights are at the end of the campaign - in order to refine and evolve the next campaign.
Communication strategies also help direct which platforms to use
Even a large marketing budget can be heavily diluted by trying to spread your message across every platform available!
As an integrated marketing company, we know that marketing is the most effective when you target your marketing on fewer platforms that complement each other more effectively for your target audience and the specific message you’re promoting (which could be brand awareness, or could be trying to sell more of a specific product).
A solid communication strategy helps you identify your key audience and guide your medium selection. Your media strategy will then break that down with channel / platform recommendations that will deliver the best results per campaign.
The workshop: phase one of developing a communication strategy
The workshop itself is a brain dump session where client gives us masses of information to sift through. We find even with us that it helps to have an outsider do these workshops and the communication strategy. It’s challenging to define a strategy on your own brand because you're too close to it, so you tend to stick with what you know rather than pushing yourself in the boundaries of something that's really going to stand out. An effective communication strategy is to get you to have that light bulb moment that goes, “Oh my God, why have we not been saying this for the last 10 years? These are such brilliant insights!” We push and provoke and challenge to get to the heart of the issue, and then work through all the raw data to give the brand the insights, the depth, and the direction they need to execute their marketing campaigns .
- Workshop time:
We can do a condensed version for smaller brands, but for larger brands we will need a commitment of five to seven hours.
- Who needs to be there:
Key people from the management team, sales team, marketing team and if possible, a product person.
- What you get back:
A comprehensive document that breaks down the brand / product objectives, the target markets and buyer persona with key messaging to target each one of these, the tone of communication, the value proposition, and then a single minded message that represents the brand / product
Think about it this way - it’s one day that will give your business tangible rewards for years to come.
What don’t you get
This is not a marketing plan or a creative campaign! It’s a top level communication plan that keeps all your marketing campaigns streamlined and consistent in their messaging. It shows the big picture of your brand/product. After that we do marketing plans for each specific objective.
Your brand is more than a product! That is what a communication strategy works to show you, and it is this underlying message we put into our marketing strategies.
If you want to understand how this works, set up some time, and let's see how we can help you create a winning communication strategy.
Penquin MD & Communication strategist