Good communication is vital for any project to run smoothly. Furthermore, it’s one of the most efficient ways of dealing with (or preventing) risks and issues and a great way to make sure all tasks are completed in a timely manner.
In addition to project management tools, one of the essential components of managing any project is a communication plan. So, what exactly is a communication plan?
What Is a Communication Plan?
A communication plan is a specific strategy which defines your company’s audiences as well as the messages you need to communicate to them in order to achieve your mutual business goals. In simple terms, it is a document that outlines when, how, and why you’ll communicate with your audiences.
Here are some basic questions a good communication plan should aim to answer:
- What is the message you wish to communicate to your target audience?
- What details do you want to share with them about your company?
- What’s your company’s mission?
In this post, I’m going to show you how to create and maintain a consistent communication strategy for your company. In order to facilitate the entire process, we’ll provide you with #$ communication plan template ideas as well.
So, here are the 11 steps that will help you create your own communication plan template, which you can later alter and adjust according to the project and client-specific needs.
8 Steps to a Perfect Communication Plan (Template)
1. Clearly identify your mission statement
Your company’s mission statement should clearly communicate what it is that you do. It’s usually a short sentence or paragraph that explains to the world why it is that your business exists.
Your mission statement states the ultimate goal your business aims to achieve for your customers. So, the first step in the creation of your communication plan should be re-emphasizing your own mission statement. Here are several examples of mission statements of some major companies to get you inspired:
Starbucks – “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
LeadQuizzes – “Make marketing easier.”
TED: “Spread ideas.”
Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
Your mission statement should be incorporated into your communication plan template.
2. Define your business goals
The next step would be to identify your business goals. In other words – what is it that your company needs to do or what goals it needs to achieve in order to consider your business dealings a success?
Every goal you set is expected to contribute to your business’ overall objectives and should be a step forward to fulfilling the promise stated in your mission statement. Your business goals should be listed (and elaborated) in your communication plan template.
3. Identify your target audience
Your target audience is made up of all the people you’re trying to reach. Most precisely, those are the people who are most likely to buy your product or service.
How to learn more about who your target audience is? One of the most effective solutions is to survey or quiz your current and/or potential customers to find out more about them. That being said, online quizzes are one of the funniest and most engaging ways to do so.
Once you obtain the necessary data, you should create a short (a couple of sentences) description of your audience(s). For example:
Our target audience comprises of professional 20 to 26-year-old college graduates who are looking for their first full-time job.
Of course, you can use the data gathered to develop detailed buyer personas. Each persona should contain information such as age, gender, occupation, location, income, interests, and so on.
4. Determine your unique selling proposition
What is a unique selling proposition (USP)? According to TechTarget,
“A unique selling proposition (USP, also seen as unique selling point) is a factor that differentiates a product from its competitors, such as the lowest cost, the highest quality or the first-ever product of its kind. A USP could be thought of as “what you have that competitors don’t.”
Depending on your product and niche, your unique selling proposition could be lower prices, free shipping, and so on.
5. Come up with actionable calls to action
The next step would be to add audience-specific calls to action. A call-to-action, in this case, determines what you want your target audience to do after they’ve received your message.
For instance, if you’re a financial organization looking to help graduates repay their loans, your CTA could be to get them to apply for a free consultation.
In that case, a sample CTA for your communication plan template could be something along these lines:
Sign up for a free consultation now and find out how to finally stop worrying about your student loan.
6. Decide on your preferred communication channels
This step gets us closer to the ‘communication’ part of the communication plan. Here you need to choose the channels you’re going to use for sharing your message. Some of the most commonly used communication channels are:
- Email. According to some estimations, it is expected that over 246 billion emails will be sent on a daily basis by the end of 2019. So, email still is one of the most common means of business communication.
The most common ways of communicating your message via email are email newsletters, press relations (sending press releases to your press contacts), and email blasts containing sales offers.
- Social media. When using social media to communicate your message, you need to choose the right channels for your needs, based on where your audience spends most of their time.
- Blog. If you have a regular readership, the blog is the perfect place for communicating your message to them. Blog posts can be used for sharing information on company events and news, successful projects, how-to articles, product and service updates or new launches.
Once you’ve chosen the right communication channels, you have to make sure they’re clearly documented within your communication plan template.
7. Draft the messages that you want to deliver
So far, you’ve been working on your communication strategy. Now it’s time to come up with actual messages that you want to send to your audiences. Each of your target audiences needs to hear the right (and specific enough) message if you want them to convert.
The key to deciding which message to send to a specific audience is to approach a particular problem they might be facing and your product or service might be solving. Here are the three things each message should contain:
- An actual problem they’re experiencing
- The solution you’re offering
- Call to action
As you’ve already learned so far, in marketing, one size almost never fits all, but here’s a communication plan template message you could use (with your company-specific modifications):
Are you facing [an issue/problem]? Check out how [your company name] can help using [your product or service]. [insert a call to action]
8. Set communication goals
Your communication goals are the things you expect your communications team to achieve. They should be set in relation to your business goals that you defined in step 2.
For instance, if your business goal was to increase your app sales by 30%, your communications goal could be to increase the number of free trial signups by 45% compared to the previous year.
You also need to come up with a system that will enable you to track and measure the performance of your communications team. For example, if you’re tracking your blog performance, some of the common metrics are unique and total page views, time spent on site, bounce rate, search ranking, number of backlinks, etc.
11 Ready-Made Communication Plan Template Ideas
- The University of Tennessee communication plan sample
- UC Santa Cruz communication plan sample
- Stratis Health communication plan template
- Rasmuson Foundation communication plan template
- UC Berkeley communication plan template
- The National Council communication plan template
- State Government Victoria communication plan template
- National Marine Sanctuaries communication plan template
- United Way CFC communication plan template
- Faculty of Humanities Communications and Marketing Team, communication plan template
- OK In the Know communication plan template