7 Ways to Ensure the Biggest Bang for Your Communications Dollar
Spring is a time of renewal. Warmer temperatures bring flowers to bloom and leaves to return to the trees. Growth is in the air. And with the first quarter of the year nearly complete, it’s also a great time to check in on the effectiveness of your communications to make sure you’re getting the most from your communications investments.
Here are some suggestions for your Spring Communications Checklist.
✔ Check Your Messaging
Messages are a means to understanding and engagement. When people don’t get you, you don’t get their business or their support. If you aren’t relevant to what matters to them, they’ll tune you out. With so much competition for clicks and eyeballs these days, clear and resonating messages are more important than ever.
Good messaging is mostly about articulating a purpose — the “why” of your business. Great messaging uses language that touches the heart as well as the mind. Messaging is not an island, but rather part and parcel of management and organizational development. In fact, we find the message development process can lead to important breakthroughs and “aha’s” about challenges and opportunities that often aren’t revealed during strategic and business planning.
Test your messages. Find out what captivates and what might be confusing. If your message is too abstract or complex, you aren’t likely to break through. And if you aren’t sure how well your messages are working, it might be time to refresh or shift your messaging.
✔ Clarify Your Audience
Make sure know who you want to reach and need to connect with to support your cause, buy your products, or engage your consulting services. Without a clear understanding of who needs and wants what you offer, you can waste a great deal of time and money on marketing and communications efforts that aren’t performing.
Ask why people engage with you and your products or services. What aspiration or yearning do you fulfill and, conversely, what challenge or frustration do you ease or eliminate? You may have determined that your target market is, for example, women 25 to 40 years old. But they don’t buy your product because they are in that age group. They buy it because it does something for them. By honing in on that specific knowledge, you can better define and segment your audience.
✔ Talk with Your Existing Audiences
Talk with existing clients, buyers, supporters to understand why they are engaged with you. Focus groups are a good way to get a sense of customer sentiment because you can hear the words they use to describe your products or services and get a sense of how passionate they are about your entity. Focus groups also can help you narrow your target should you decide to do a larger survey.
Surveys can be useful. But be wary of survey fatigue, since so many entities send out questions after purchase. Surveys with too many questions that take too much time annoy people. If you decide to survey your audience, make sure you ask the right questions. For example, if you ask about the degree of product satisfaction, also ask why or why not. And incorporate what you find into your communications and marketing efforts.
✔ Tap the Best Channels to Reach Your Audiences
There is an embarrassment of communications riches these days. In addition to traditional media, social media offers a plethora of avenues, from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to TikTok and YouTube. That’s why it is so important to understand your audience and where they go to get information or be entertained and how they like to connect with you. So many of our clients think they have to be on every platform. But the question you need to ask is, where are my customers and supporters? Clients will often say, I need to be on TikTok or the next new shiny platform. When we ask them if their customers are there, they often don’t know or they’ll admit, probably not.
✔ Research Your Market
Market research can help you understand what already exists in your industry or in the arena around your cause. It will also help you identify competitors and other strong brand positions. You can learn what gaps are in the market to better identify your niche. And remember, market research should be an ongoing process. Continually monitor news sites and industry journals and network with industry groups and associations.
✔ Analyze Your Competitors
Take a look at your competitors (and, yes, everyone has competitors whether they compete directly for business or for audience attention). When you understand how a competing entity positions its offerings, you can identify what you do differently or better and what gaps you close. Examine their websites, social media channels, and news articles. Where are they showing up and investing their marketing and PR dollars? What are they saying and what seems to stick?
✔ Establish Communications Performance Benchmarks
Develop metrics that help you identify how well your communications efforts are performing.
Look at your website traffic–where it is coming from, how visitors find you, what pages they search for, how long they spend on your site, and how many and what actions these visitors take. If people are coming to your site but not buying or connecting in other ways, you need to understand why. Establish goals for conversion rates.
Look at your social media performance. Don’t just look at numbers of likes but examine how much actual engagement you are getting. Are people reposting or sharing content? Are they commenting? Are more people following you? Establish goals around engagement.
Look at conventional media. It isn’t always about quantity but rather how well your messages are being repeated. Are your spokespeople sought out for expertise and insights in your industry or field? Are you showing up in articles in media outlets that reach your targets? Establish goals for media outreach and engagement.
It’s never too late to renew your communications efforts. And spring is a good time to make sure your initiatives are communicated to bloom brilliantly.
Is your company or nonprofit in need of a communications refresh? Wainger Group can help. Reach out to schedule a free, 30-minute conversation.