Strategic Communications – Communication Plan Analysis Part 1

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Over the next few posts, I’ll be running a short Strategic Communications Series on a Communications Plan Analysis that I have used quite successfully.

Many people know they need Strategic Communications to “talk” to their customers, both existing and prospective. But how do you make sure your communications “do the job?” Most likely, it’s going to cost you money to achieve your goals, so the only way to ensure you accomplished your goal is to measure it – this helps you know how effective your communications have been, and it helps you support the value of your work to your boss.  Let’s look at some steps to almost guarantee that your Communication Plans will have measurable success.

I usually break down the Communication Plan Analysis into three main sections:

  • Need – What is the problem, and what is the result we expect from the money we are about to invest? And most important, what is the cost of that problem?
  • Content – How will we move people to the desired result?
  • Measurement – Did you actually meet, or better, exceed, the goals?

Need drives the entire process. We’re not going to spend the money to do something that doesn’t need to be done – it might be fun, but it’s not a good idea. You have a situation or a problem – and it usually has a measurable cost – so you need to solve that problem… to eliminate, or at least significantly reduce that cost. We’ll most likely have to invest time or money to solve the problem, but if the problem is well defined and quantified, not only can we reduce or eliminate the problem with an appropriately targeted communications plan; we can measure how well we did it. The measure may be increased sales, or increased signups for a new program, or broader support within a community for a new service or idea. Whatever measure you use, this is your yardstick for success.

Let’s use an example to illustrate how this process functions and how well it can work.

A while back, a company I worked for was going to introduce a new product into a moderately saturated marketplace. This new product incorporated major new and patented innovations, and would most likely have been quite successful. However, for several reasons that you will see, we needed to ensure that success and overcome some other major issues.

The NEED – Here was where we started from:

  • Moderate market share for existing product, #2 in sales in the industry
  • A general lack of respect for the company caused by having only parity products in the past
  • Very low sales force morale from carrying these “me too” products
  • Dealers throughout the country feeling a definite “lack of personal contact” by company executives
  • But most important, an exciting new product to launch: including many industry firsts, under a new brand umbrella, and based on a new and very unfamiliar technology – actually, others had tried the technology, we were the first to make it work well… hence the patents.

The GOALS – what were the desired – and measureable – results of the communications plan?

  • Earn #1 sales position in the marketplace, as measured by published industry data
  • Firmly establish the new brand with dealers and consumers
  • Build new levels of respect for the company brand and their sales force in the market place
  • Dealer owners pleased with personal contact with company executives
  • Retail clerks educated and excited about the new product, and motivated to sell the product and the company
  • A memorable event to keep the company “top of mind” for the foreseeable future.

The Obstacles:

  • Low respect for company in the market place – would dealers even listen?
  • Large number of outlets and clerks to be informed/trained/motivated across the market, preferably in as short a time as possible
  • The introduction would be in January/February, the worst time to travel a show around the country.

You can see how all of these elements defined the measurement criteria. Sales can be plotted against the product launch. Market share is a standard industry published statistic, and can be plotted against the time of the launch. Respect will be reflected in the attitudes of the retail clerks to the sales representatives calling on the stores and the how the products and the company are received after the launch. This, and how well the event was remembered, would show up in weekly sales call reporting.

Observable, accurate, and actionable. The hallmarks of good metrics.

Next post, I’ll look at our communications plan to achieve these goals

DanSig-02




2 Responses to “Strategic Communications – Communication Plan Analysis Part 1”

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