What’s the Formula? Communication Plan Fundamentals

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What’s the Formula? Communication Plan Fundamentals

What’s the Formula? Communication Plan Fundamentals

Photo: Roman Mager via Unsplash

If you’re considering your messaging strategy, you may have no idea what that chalkboard scribble means. But you absolutely have an important product, program or mission to drive forward. You just need to double check that you’re not missing some fundamental aspect to your plan. What do you need to do now to be successful?

Must #1. Balance push vs pull

Employee communication, B2B or enterprise marketing—whatever the variety, your goal is a conversation. It is not a soliloquy. Not only is there a speaker, there is an active, engaged audience.

That is the goal, anyway.

In building a messaging strategy, we need to have a discussion about push and pull channels.

Think of a “push” as a meeting invite. It’s the bare minimum. It’s the basic outline of what is necessary for a person to know. Think of a “pull” as the meeting itself. It’s the meat, the heft, where the dialogue happens. They often work in pairs, though you often see the pairs working in parallel. For instance:

  • An email is the push, a website is the pull.
  • A poster is the push, a town hall presentation is the pull.
  • An infographic is the push, a research paper is the pull.

Must #2. Distill conversation partner POVs

If done poorly, this push/pull conversation can feel more like a monologue performed to an empty theater. If done well, it can achieve the feeling of a mentoring session or a peer-to-peer exchange.

To start, you need to distill the two points of view—speaker and audience by understanding the nature of their connection.

Is it a customer/business relationship where a sale is desired? Is the power dynamic of an employee/employer partnership the gorilla hulking over every interchange? Or, is participation central to the connection, such as a member/association affiliation?

For starters, ask: what are the goals of each audience? What are the barriers to action? How well do they know each other already? It never hurts to remind yourself of relevant research; it’s easy to short-cut your way into worn out assumptions. Or do a little digging yourself.

Must #3. Match media and message

Now you can begin to play around with key messages and channel. Since you’re not new to this, you know about some of the analogue favorites—brochures, postcards and the like. Here are some media channels you might not be thinking of:

Infographic

Crystalize your key narrative points in an infographic. This works especially well if you have a larger message that is particularly complex or requires attention for a sustained period of time. It is an icon, all sophisticated-up.

An infographic can transform research data into meaning—make it a quick read. A borrowed one can set the stage for your product or project. It can refresh your sales message. Or, it can be a touchstone for an implementation that will take place over a period of time. A visual timeline or calendar is an early form of an infographic.  Here are more ideas.

Drip campaign

This is the AI version of an email. It is a series of emails that build on each other, triggered by an action or attribute of the recipient.

Say your goal was to have employees engage with their health savings account. First, make sure that opening one is easy to do when they first enroll in their HSA-eligible health plan. Then, stair-step them through the small behavior changes necessary to build a positive balance that gives them some sense of financial security against the unexpected.

If you want to nurture a relationship, a drip campaign makes high touch lower budget. You won’t trick your target audience into thinking they’re getting personalized attention; if you give them something they value—a promotion, a checklist that makes their life easier, to name a few, then your emails will have the intended impact: they’ll feel the love.

Video

Everyone with a smartphone is an amateur videographer. My kids like to watch people play video games—so I know this has the potential to go very wrong. While everyone can, smart folks like you have a strategy. Your message might be better told with animation—moving graphics (that you’re already made for print or web delivery) can help you. Get inspired by watching some simple and more complex ones. Don’t be afraid of filming someone—like you. YOU are important to the people who are listening.

Must #4. Sequencing is everything

An early mentor shared this nugget of wisdom with me when I was just beginning my career. She recommended I always proportion my strategies this way:

  1. Tell them what you’re gonna tell ‘em.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you told ‘em. (Wrap up, summary, call to action)

Delightfully simple, no?

As I review communication plans, balancing the push and the pull of a range of vehicles and timing, I always calibrate against that framework.

Is my introduction transparent enough so my audience quickly knows what I’m about to say? Check. (Well, you weren’t privy to the editing I just did.)

Is the meat in the middle a reflection of the title—did I deliver? Check.

And, finally, have I provided that satisfying ending to propel my audience towards action or feeling differently? Here goes…

What’s your Minimum Viable Strategy? 

If you’re reading this, you are already savvy enough to appreciate the value of smart, efficient messaging that follows some logic. You want to dialogue, not lecture.

You get it.

The question I have for you: do you need some help doing the work? You could DIY… but do you have other things you could be doing to drive your mission forward? How about we schedule 15 minutes.

Email me and we’ll schedule 15 minutes to chat.

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