When a new client approaches me, it’s often to ask for help with things like ‘some social media’, ‘an idea for a strapline’ or ‘a good leaflet’. Of course, every business or organisation needs a few bits and pieces for marketing – a website, a Facebook page perhaps, some information to give to customers. But how can you make sure that everything you’re doing comes together coherently, instead of just remaining as ‘bits and pieces’?
Rather than marketing, I tend to think about communication; because it goes much wider than marketing alone. It’s about everything you do and everything you say. Whether you’re going to a meeting, having a telephone conversation, presenting to an audience or running an ad on TV, you’re projecting messages about yourself wherever you go. So, you have to be sure these messages are the right ones….before you worry about where to put them. Planning first and executing later will create much more effective communication, and in turn much more effective use of your time and budget. Here are five questions to ask yourself:
What’s your vision?
Knowing where you want to get to as an organisation is critical to making sure that your messages check back to your purpose. If you want to achieve world peace but you talk about promoting an IT service, then it might look like a bit of a muddle.
What are your goals?
What are your objectives, what’s the timing on these, and how will you measure them? Unless you can measure your outcomes, it’s hard to know whether your marketing is as effective as you need it to be.
Who do you want to talk to?
Are you communicating with the right audiences, or should you be going for someone different? While you might want to target ‘everyone’, this in fact just means that your messages will end up being wishy-washy and reaching no one. By focusing instead on more tightly defined groups you can make sure you’re reaching them properly and not wasting your resources.
What will you say?
You might know who you want to target, but understanding what they think about you and about the issues at hand will help you to develop messages that tackle these views. Then you’ll be telling them something that they want to hear and that they’ll respond to.
Where are they?
Once you have your messages, gaining a good idea of where your audiences go and what they do will help you work out where to reach them. Rather than concentrating just on channels that you know about already, thinking through whether your audiences will actually be in those places to hear or see your messages should come first.
In summary, the most important aspect to communications and marketing is making sure that you’re reaching the right people, in the right way, so that you work towards the goals you’ve defined. It doesn’t have to be rocket science – just a little bit of planning!