Communications and marketing should be a journey. An ongoing progression from a to b to c to d to… Too often businesses approach communications as individual projects, they embark on “a bit of advertising”, “some PR”, “the odd event”. This approach can work and provide short term success, allowing a business to grow. However, it lacks cohesion and a formulated plan. Without strategic elements, communication becomes a hit and miss affair, a gamble that occasionally pays off but more often than not results in wasted money.
In our opinion there are five critical stages to a communications journey:
Reveal – where you take the time to understand what your business is, what your products are and crucially, what others think of you and what you are achieving. It is also a stage where you can identify perception gaps – situations where your customers and suppliers believe different things about your business than you.
Create – which should be split into two sub categories:
Your brand – This goes beyond the creation of a logo to include the identification of key messages, business attributes and the “ethos” behind your business. Your brand should encompass both visual and ethereal elements to embody what your business is on every level.
Strategic communications plan – Where you use the information learned through the “Reveal” stage to develop a cohesive plan. This long term document draws together the messages and the research to identify key sectors, marketing opportunities and tools available to you in your communications journey. It identifies how and where they can be used and budgetary options.
Evaluation – No matter how well thought out and planned your strategy there will be tweaks, changes to consider and whole areas to re-develop once it has moved your business to the next level. Evaluation should be ongoing, allowing the continual measurement of all your marketing spend.