We all know the importance of developing an effective communication plan in order to correctly define the actions to be taken to bring about change and therefore positive development within the company.
A communication plan will make it possible to fully understand and assimilate the situations that arise throughout the various evolutionary processes of society. This will allow you to choose the best strategies and actions to put in place to find a target audience and retain them subsequently.
However, undertaking such an exercise requires time and consistency, but also a certain initial investment in time which may seem heavy.
So let’s see together how to develop a successful communication plan in a few concrete steps.
Who will use the development of a communication plan?
Unfortunately, companies often tend to neglect the design of a communication plan.
This is a very big mistake!
What would you say if an architect were going to build your house without a plan?
That would be totally unacceptable, and you probably will not entrust your construction project to him.
Your communication plan should go in exactly the same order.
Your communication plan allows companies of all types to have all the details of their project available. This will ensure that it is carried out as well as possible and on time, with a profitable return on investment.
Developing a communication plan will allow you to get a consistent message for all of your decisions, tools, communication and target audience.
# 1. Develop a communication plan via the mandate
What is the problem you are having? What are the challenges you want to take up?
Any starting point for any marketing project begins with your perception of the problem at hand or the goals your business needs to achieve.
The goal is to get you to find what you want to do: boost your turnover, gain notoriety, increase awareness of your product service, etc.
# 2. Analyze the situation before developing a communication plan
The analysis of the situation is the diagnosis of your mandate carried out beforehand.
Once it is done, all you have to do is verify with facts whether it is fully achievable with the actual state of your business.
In other words, you have to do a press review, polls, studies, etc. to provide a thoughtful portrait of your entire business and the context in which it operates.
To do this, you just have to assess the possible opportunities, know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors in the market.
In other words, perform a SWOT analysis. Then, determine the behaviors of your target audiences and define your communication strategies.
To learn how to do SWOT analysis, this article will be of great help.
# 3. Determine the objectives
A good campaign always achieves these goals set at the start.
It is therefore essential for you to correctly define your marketing and communication objectives or increase your market share, or even communication objectives, to strengthen your brand image.
To do this, your goal must be SMART, that is, specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic and time-bound.
The SMART goal has the advantage of being comprehensive.
However, the entire communication plan is being made to meet this objective.
Whether it’s to market your business, educate your audience or educate your audience about a product / service, your goal is to change the behavior or attitude of your target audience.
To master the SMART method and stick to your goals, take a look here
Let’s see a concrete example:
- Promote the company to 20 eco-responsible companies by next season;
- Increase sales by 12% of our marketing consulting service to new business leaders in 1 year.
The objectives mentioned are measurable (20/12%), defined over time (1 year / next season), realistic, specific (making the company known to eco-responsible companies, increasing sales of the service, etc.) and finally acceptable.
# 4. Identify and describe the target audience
The target represents the group of people you want to target with your different goals.
When you develop a communication plan, your target is not necessarily your customers (who already use your services or products) or the public at large.
Your target directly depends on your goals.
Once you have identified your target, you will also have to specify their exact profile.
The more you know your potential target, the more you will be able to reach them and the more powerful your actions will be.
Bernard Dagenais in his book “The communication plan, the art of seducing or convincing others”, says:
“ To achieve the mandate received, some audiences will be more appropriate than others. They will become our targets and these must result directly from the findings. [lors de l’analyse de la situation]. The relevance of their choice must prevail, because it will have been justified earlier “.
# 5. Identify the communication axis
This step is the start of the project.
Your communication axis is the centerpiece of all your communications.
What do you want him to remember? Your communication axis therefore guides all your messages.
You need to determine the central theme that guides your strategy and your messages.
The axis therefore responds directly to the problem raised. This answer represents a single idea in a single sentence.
It sets a tone for a campaign and all of you other posts are directly structured around this unique idea.
In order to build the axis, you must do it from the same elements that allowed you to determine your objective, that is to say the object, the target and the approach that will make it possible to attract your audience toward you.
# 6. Develop a communication strategy
Your strategy encompasses all the means you will take to meet your various objectives.
Your strategy will allow you to determine how you will go about showing your campaign to your target. How will you act on the attitude and behavior of your target?
To make a target aware of a new product or service, you have to do it in different ways such as making a communication noise, often releasing the same messages, or even capturing the attention of your target with a unique creation.
# 7. Choose communication tools
A social media campaign, an old relationship, an event or even other innovative strategies are ways that will allow you to reach your goals quickly.
Note that the choice of these means must obviously depend on different factors such as the objectives you want, the results of the SWOT analysis and your different financial resources.
The key is to find the techniques that will be best suited to bring your campaign to fruition.
# 8. Find your message
Depending on the communication tool you have chosen, your messages should be distinct from each other, which are organized around your line of communication.
In other words, the message must be constructed in a different way depending on the communication tool applied.
The design of your message is of paramount importance.
Your message must be able to inform, raise awareness, attract and promote to your target customers.
Its goal? Change an attitude in your target.
To work well, your message must meet certain criteria:
- Be presented to the chosen target;
- To attract his attention ;
- To be understood ;
- To be accepted ;
- Be retained;
- Cause action.
# 9. Establish a budget, schedule and schedule
Your budget must be considered from the start of your mandate.
This will make it easier for you when you are in the process of contacting your suppliers.
Each means of communication will need human, material and financial resources.
To determine them, you can rely on existing resources in the company, actions taken by competitors, goals and percentages of sales.
You may also not be able to know exactly how much your campaign will cost you.
You can, for example, throughout the preparation of your report, think of your budget under 2 assumptions:
- A fixed budget;
- A budget of around 25% higher.
Also use a precise schedule that will allow you to follow the production of your communication plan on time, from the mandate to the results, without forgetting the tools to be put in place.
Your calendar should list all the activities to do with the key dates to be respected.
As for the timeline, it determines when exactly the activities will take place.
# 10. Evaluate the results
This is the key moment of your project!
At this stage, it is time to take stock of your results to know whether or not your efforts have paid off.
In order to properly assess the situation, you need to go back to your original goals and note which ones were successfully achieved and which were not.
Then write down the key points that led to the achievement of your goals to optimize them for future communications. Also note the points that held you back in order to rework them or outright replace them with other strategies.
A communication plan is having a very detailed project in mind, specific in various points that allow you to bring it to an end by shouting “Success”!
Let us know in the comments what other steps you usually add when developing a communication plan.