11 November 2016
My objectives for the workshop were:
• To provide an insight into the benefits of strategic communications & marketing
• To help take time out from your business & spend some time ON your business
• To provide key themes, ideas and templates to take away & use in your business
One of the essential parts of running this kind of workshop is to encourage an informal, interactive session where all the participants are free to ask questions, share their own experiences and ideas and generally join in the conversation. I have to say that we had a particularly lovely and interesting group, ready to join in and as a result we had some great discussions, case studies and feedback.
My passion is all about helping people and businesses to communicate effectively, to enjoy what they are doing and ultimately to achieve their objectives. This is why I am convinced that the necessity to plan and to take the time to think about what you are doing and why is just so essential.
My one key take away for the workshop was if you remember anything, please ensure that everything you do is aligned with and in keeping with your business objectives. More often than not, when businesses start to think about communications and marketing they think about all the different tools they can use, websites, social media, advertising, mailings, PR or others that can all get to be very expensive. I would urge you to first take the time to think about what you are trying to achieve first, build your foundations and then be as creative as you can. Not only will you be more effective, but you will find that your budget will go a lot further as well.
Managing your communications is a bit like when you build a house, you need to ensure that you have strong and solid foundations in place first before you start to think about what kind of front door will you have or the colour of your curtains.
Creating a strong brand identity will not only ensure that yourself business portrays itself in the right way, but it will also help you to define your key values, purpose and messages allowing you to focus and to be consistent in everything you do.
Really take the time to write these elements down, to involve your teams and to think about what it all means in terms of the way your business does things.
Standing out from your competitors, do you know your USP? What makes you different? Sometimes we can spend too much time trying to identify the things that make us different and get carried away, when actually we have the answer in front of us. Take the time to ask your customers why they choose to work with you and not your competitors? Think about what you actually do and whether you actually use that to sell your business. It’s not always about being completely different, but more about communicating effectively about what it is you do!
Could you stand out from your competitors by being the business that actually communicates what you do? Think about the ‘so what’, what does it mean for your customers? And don’t assume that your customers know it all.
Targeting your audience effectively can make all the difference to any communications or marketing plan or approach. A great way to begin is with a stakeholder map, really taking the time to map out your business’ stakeholders and identifying what is important to them and just as importantly how they could contribute to the success of your business. Think customers, competitors, suppliers, staff, family, local community…...the list is endless. This will help you to prioritise your communications and ensure that you are focusing on the most influential or most important ones, but also it will help you to think more creatively. How could you benefit or take advantage of your great relationships with some of your key stakeholders? Could you use them for case studies, testimonials or jump on the back of their marketing campaign?
Having a customer avatar or persona is a great way to help you understand everything you need to know about your target audience or customers. Once you have identified who are they, get to know them inside and out. Where do they go? What are they interested in? What are they looking for and how do they want to be communicated with?
So, if you can get all the groundwork done, then actually sitting down to write an effective communications or marketing plan should be fairly straightforward. It’s not rocket science, it’s simply a process of identifying your business objectives, (think SMART), what you need to do to achieve them, when to do it and putting in place a way of measuring what is effective or not. Finally, the best part of all where you should be able to have the most fun is deciding how you are going to communicate, just remember my golden rule:
“BE CREATIVE”, there are no rules!
Lucy Rennie Communications
T: +44 (0) 777 592 8006
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