Effective communication among employees and with the customers is of utmost importance for an organization. Here are some statistics that reflect the importance of internal and external communication.
- Firstly, more than 80% of Americans believe that employee communication is key in developing trust in their employers.
- From a customer’s perspective, 68% of customers are more likely to buy from a business that offers convenient communications.
So the question is, is there a set of rules that can help us determine what effective communication is for a particular organization?
There is, and it is called “communication strategy.” Even though it differs from business to business, it provides guiding principles on communication and streamlines interactions.
In this article, we will define communication strategy and discuss its types, elements, and benefits for an organization.
Let us begin.
What is a Communication Strategy?
A Communication strategy is an all-encompassing roadmap for business and marketing communications. It guides communications across all formats, mediums, and audiences; and aligns them with core values, purpose, and desired outcomes.
Communication strategy guides internal and external communication, such as among employees or relaying a message to the target audience. Communication strategies streamline communications and are fundamental to an organization’s marketing and business strategy.
Here is an example to better illustrate the practical application of communication strategy.
Example of Communication Strategy
Consider an advertising agency all set to run an advertising campaign for a client. The agency’s job is to identify the target audience, their preferences, problems, habits, and needs. Keeping these things under consideration, the agency has devised a plan to shift the audience from their current state to desired outcomes.
The agency will now develop a communication strategy that will dictate when and where to reach their audience and how to communicate their client’s message effectively. This communication will convince the audience to take a particular action.
Whether through social media ads, newspaper ads, or billboards, this communication strategy will guide the ad agency about things to do and not to do to achieve the client’s objectives.
Types of Communication Strategies
There are three main types of communication strategies, which are as follows.
Verbal Communication Strategy
Verbal communication strategy includes all types of oral or written communication such as phone calls, emails, ad copy, fax, chat, video calls, and face-to-face meetings. Every communication involving written or spoken word, internally or externally, is guided by a verbal communication.
Non-verbal Communication Strategy
A non-verbal communication strategy guides everything that has to do with mannerisms and expressions. It includes facial expressions, body language, tone and voice pitch, etc.
For example, the same brand might use different mannerisms or body language when advertising their products in two culturally distinct countries. Being careless about non-verbal communication can land a business in hot waters.
Visual Communication Strategy
Visual communication strategy guides all sorts of communications that are visual in nature. Examples include whiteboard animations, video ads, graphics, logos, pictures, GIFs, infographics, presentations, etc. Of course, visual communication might also include elements of verbal or non-verbal communication.
Now, let’s have a look at the elements of a successful communication strategy.
Elements of a Successful Communication Strategy
Defining Your Target Audience
Identifying, understanding, and clearly defining your ideal audience is the first step toward creating a successful communication strategy. To do that, you need to answer questions like:
- Why are you targeting this particular audience?
- What are their preferences, aspirations, and fears?
- What are their problems, and how can your products or services solve those problems?
- What are their demographics (age, gender, profession, language, and ethnicity)?
- What formats and platforms do they use most extensively?
When you devise a communication strategy after knowing your audience, you increase your chances of success. According to this research, 80% of marketers say personalized content performs better than generic content.
Aligning Context with Your Communications
Context helps you determine your audience’s frame of reference while they engage with you. It also enables you to analyze where they stand in the funnel. In simple words, context means communicating with the right audience, with the right message, at the right time.
A successful communication strategy explains the context so those in charge of communication can squeeze maximum benefits out of their efforts. For example, Tesla talked to consumers about fossil fuels and what it’d be like to live without them. This helped them collect data and design electric cars that are now selling more than Mercedes-Benz.
Determining Intended Outcome(s)
A communication strategy without intended outcomes is like shooting an arrow in the dark. Whether it is communication’s goal to persuade, relay information, convert leads, or increase engagement, without a clear intended outcome, it is impossible to determine the progress. An intended outcome also helps determine the best course of action.
Relaying Key Message(s)
Every communication strategy has a list of key messages centered around its brand and core values. These key messages are woven in every form of communication with the audience so that the messaging stays consistent with the brand.
For example, Nike’s key messaging revolves around moving and taking action(Just Do It), while Apple’s key messaging helps it stand out because of its sophisticated design and user experience(Think Different). However, key messaging is not synonymous with a brand’s tagline. The tagline is just an example of key messaging in action.
Choosing the Appropriate Medium
An effective communication strategy also guides on the appropriate medium for engaging your audience. For example, if your target audience is high-level executives in the tech industry, focusing your marketing communication efforts on LinkedIn instead of Instagram would make more sense.
However, choosing the appropriate medium is much more than choosing the right social media platform. It also involves determining:
- Communication formats your target audience prefers (email, one-to-one meetings, phone calls, video ads, podcasts, etc.),
- Whether they prefer verbal or visual communication.
- Where they usually hang out on the internet.
All of these aspects come under the guiding light of communication strategy. Choosing the appropriate medium increases the effectiveness of your communication and puts you one step closer to your desired outcomes.
Choosing Preferred Messenger(s)
A comprehensive communication strategy also determines its messengers depending on the preferences of the audience and the nature of the business.
For example, it might make sense to hire an influencer for a fashion brand while a top manager or a CEO will be better suited to explain the benefits of a SaaS product to potential buyers. Preferred messengers can be divided into three broad categories.
- Role and Authority: This type of messenger inspires confidence in their audience because of their influential role and authority in a particular organization or industry. (CEOs, Managers, Investors, etc.)
- Expertise and Experience: This type of messenger inspires trust in the audience because of their experience in that particular industry. (Entrepreneurs, Activists, Industry Leaders, etc.)
- Relationship with the Audience: This type of messenger is well-known among the audience, which makes the audience listen to what he has to say. (Influencers, Celebrities, Artists, etc.)
Alright, let’s move to the benefits of a communication strategy for an organization.
Benefits of a Communication Strategy for an Organization
Communication strategies help an organization maintain consistency across all communication channels. But why is maintaining consistency important? Consistency in external communications helps build trust among your audience. Moreover, you will likely increase revenue by 33% if you have brand consistency.
On the other hand, consistency in internal communications helps employees avoid miscommunication and misunderstanding. When used to consistent communication protocols, they’re less likely to be overwhelmed or become anxious.
A communication strategy is a well-defined blueprint that brings clarity to internal and external communications.
It outlines the protocols about how an organization should communicate, eliminating the need for guesswork or ad-hoc decision-making.
Clarity also helps determine the nature of messages and the expected outcomes. With clear communication goals in mind, employees find it easier to communicate with clients and coworkers.
Guides Marketing Communication
A comprehensive communication strategy helps streamline your marketing communications.
When faced with a hiccup or dealing with a new client, an employee can simply refer to this strategy for guidance on how to communicate while keeping the key messaging and desired outcomes in mind. This reduces speculation in marketing communication and yields calculable results on a campaign’s performance.
In simple words, all marketing campaigns are based on communication strategies. A thorough communication strategy is the only way to organize, streamline, and regulate internal and external communications. Without it, employees become less productive, and business takes a hit.
Depending on your industry, how would you go about devising a communication strategy for your business? Let us know in the comments!