Build an effective communication plan

Content marketing is very important to your inbound strategy, but you can’t stop there. You need a good communications plan to make sure your content will reach your target audience.

A communications plan can be used in times of crises, but also to launch new products/services or reach targeted audiences.

Here’s how to build an effective communication plan that gets results.

I. Why bother writing a Communications plan?

A. What is a communications plan?

The communication plan is a short, medium, or long term communications schedule. It allows you to organize your communication initiatives.

From Advertising campaigns to social media publications it details the messages you need to promote, to which audiences, and on which channel.

The types of communication, number of tools and communication channels at the disposal of marketing & communication professionals keeps increasing, as has the level of competition across all channels.

Without project planning you won't be able to maximize the value of your content by impacting the key stakeholders you want to reach.

If you have multiple team members participating in your communications plan, consider creating a project communication plan to facilitate effective communication and ensure smooth project management.

It will not only improve your internal communication and increase visibility across the execution of your plan but also facilitate team meetings to gather feedback and implement adjustments.

B. Why is the communication plan important?

Marketing in general and communication methods in particular require dedication to obtain satisfying results, both in terms of visibility as well as creating and qualifying audiences.

Many companies and their communications managers use social networks to promote themselves and/or work on their brand image. But they do so without defining a proper line of communication and the communication plan that goes with it.

Effective Digital marketing relies on marketing efforts providing value to their audiences with production quality of content getting increasingly important. Whatever your digital marketing strategy is, your communications team must coordinate their social media strategy to generate traffic and opportunities.

II. Establish a communication strategy

A. The basics of a communication strategy

Your plan should include the core guidelines for your communication:

-Your Targeted Audiences & appropriate Channels fueled by Personas, Jobs To Be Done and Buyer’s Journeys

-SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) Goals to measure your plan’s effectiveness over time.

1. Specify your Targeted Audiences

If I had to synthetize what effective Sales, Marketing, Communications -even Recruiting- is all about in one sentence…

That sentence would be Marketing is all about delivering the right message to the right people at the right time.

Defining your targets is the first step to successfully delivering the right message to the right people at the right time.

A lot of people make the mistake of targeting too broadly. For example, my target is “women aged 30 to 45”.

Nowadays that’s not relevant. The power of Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other digital leaders comes from the data they get from their users and how that data can be leveraged by digital marketers.

An effective communication plan relies on its ability to connect efficiently with the right target.

The easiest way to do that is using buyer personas, digging deep into the specifics of your target audience so that you can deliver relevant content to them.

This marketing tool allows you to refine your strategies and actions by identifying all the needs and issues of your target. You can reach your target and be effective by focusing on the key messages that matter to them the most.

2. Fix your communication objectives

No matter what actions you want to set up, you need to set communication goals. You will know what you want in terms of results and whether your strategy has been effective or not. And therefore improves it.

For each objective, you must define the MEASURABLE key performance indicators to follow. Take stock every month, this will allow you to realize the progress you have made and identify areas that need improvement.

If you do not measure your progress you will give up or even worse won’t improve your performance over time.

Remember to create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) goals that will guide you throughout your communications plan.

B. The creative strategy

The creative strategy allows you to have a common thread in your publications and to make your communication more smooth.

1. The copy strategy

The copy strategy is a key component to a good communication plan. It allows you to ensure that all your communication fits with your branding. It takes into account 4 elements:

The tone of voice: formal or casual? It comes accross throughout your messaging but especially through The Hook of your content that grabs the attention of your audience.

The benefit for your target: what’s in it for them?

The promise: what is your content all about, what are you offering?

The proof: what makes the message credible (observation, demonstration, testimony, etc.)

Of course, these elements are specific to the universe of your company and/or your activity.

N.B. When you write a message you do not have to follow this order. It just needs to contain that information.

Copy Strategy.jpg

2. Your messages

Copy strategy enables you to write high-level publications for your target audience. It will also guide you when you are going to carry out your communication plan. You will need to keep in mind the message you want to convey and the value provided by each post. You will thus avoid redundancies.

Some of your content may be closely related. You can unwittingly communicate the same message with different content while that was not the original intention.

III. Create a communication plan

A. What makes a communication plan good?

1. Starting with a solid content strategy

Nowadays you can no longer just post a simple link about your product or service. Social media is becoming increasingly demanding; it requires creative & interactive content.

Depending on the social networks, the number of publications is more or less important to obtain results. Without content, you will not be able to carry out a communication plan.

You need a good content marketing strategy. Thanks to this you will always have good quality content and therefore you will be able to establish good communication.

The advantage when your content strategy is rich is that you can make different posts of it. You can make infographics, LinkedIn PDF, videos, GIFs, and illustrations. With one content we can therefore do dozens of variations and just as many publications.

Remember that for your social media posts to be successful, you can't just post a simple link to your blog. Therefore, variations are important.

2. Using the right channels

The most used social networks in BtoB are:

LinkedIn: It is the main professional social network and it helps generate opportunities. Here is a guide to help you better understand the usefulness of a business page and how to animate it effectively.

Twitter: This social network is also widely used by professionals. It is also part of social networks that require a lot of strictness. Tweets have a very limited lifespan and need to be well worked to stand out.

Pinterest: Despite appearances, Pinterest isn't just for DIY tutorials. Using Pinterest in B to B has many advantages, especially for Search Engine Optimization.

B. Create a communication plan: tutorial and example

Step 1: Group all available content

List all the content that is available: blog articles, images, videos, white papers ... Anything that can bring value to your target.

By making an “inventory” of your content, take the opportunity to identify the variations you can create to generate relevant publications per channel.

For example, if you have an article on "Human Resources in a company". You can use that content and create another content like a video or an infographic that would perform better on different platforms.

Step 2: Organize them by post types

Depending on the social media, the publication types should vary.

To organize yourself efficiently, create an excel file, and make a to-do list for each social network. This will allow you to have visibility on all your content according to the social network. And also to bring variety in publications.

Start by creating an excel file and make a tab for each social network. Next, create a column for each possible post format on the chosen social network.

available content-LinkedIn.jpg

With LinkedIn for example, you can post LinkedIn PDFs, GIFs, videos (do not forget subtitles), infographics, and pictures.

In the example above, all types of posts accepted on LinkedIn have been entered in the columns.

Then, complete your list with your topics.

If we take the “video” column, the video that has been created is linked to the article on LinkedIn prospecting.

#tips: We use GIFs to draw attention to our articles to avoid just posting the link. The LinkedIn algorithm dislikes external links in posts.

Step 3: Define your publication rate

The number of available content will determine your publication frequency. If you have two blog posts and a video in your content strategy, you won't get far in your communications plan. You have to provide value to your target.

The idea is to have enough content available for the entire duration of your communication plan. Remember it’s all about sending the right message to the right people at the right time. Posting more and posting regularly for long periods of time is the best way to achieve that perfect timing.

You can launch your communication plan at the same time as your content strategy and therefore have little content upfront. On the other hand, you will have to synchronize your efforts: Article writing -> variation in publication -> publication, etc ...

Some social networks require more posts than others to be effective.

It's hard to use Twitter effectively with just one tweet per week. But on LinkedIn, one post on your business page per week is a good start.

Step 4: Create a table to plan your posts

Each social network has its specific aspects, you need to adapt your communication plan according to the social network. Also, you must integrate into your thinking the use of company pages but also personal profiles (especially for LinkedIn).

Communication plan: LinkedIn

Column:

  • Theme: If your content strategy has been well thought out, your articles should be classified by theme on your blog.

As an example, we have classified all of our prospecting related articles under the "Business Development" category.

If you want to publish content that has nothing to do with the themes of your blog, group them by theme. You will find your way around more easily.

  • Article title: Enter the name of the article chosen in the right topic
  • Type of the publication: videos, infographics, GIF ...
  • State (to be done, in progress, ready)
  • Goal
  • Notes

Line: Week, date two large well-defined categories for personal profile and company page.

Template LinkedIn.jpg

Communication plan: Twitter

When you go to carry out the communication plan for Twitter, you can use the same framework as LinkedIn. However, the number of posts is more important, I advise you to add two columns at the beginning: day and date.

This will allow you to have visibility on all your tweets, to check the flow, and to avoid duplicates. You will find your way around more easily if you've planned to post multiple times a day.

Template Twitter.jpg

Communication plan: Pinterest

Column :

  • Board
  • Section
  • Thematic
  • Title of the article
  • Type
  • Content status
  • Goal
  • Notes

line: Add lines based on the number of posts you expect per day.

* & **: Unlike LinkedIn and Twitter, Pinterest requires a little more organization. For an optimized profile, you need to organize it.

Template Pinterest.jpg

Step 5: Fill in the publications in the communication plan

This step requires a bit more thought.

Depending on the theme, the subject, and the message you want to pass, you have to fill your communication plan.

To do this well, I advise you to choose a theme and add one publication per week in your communication plan.

This way, your communication plan will be more robust.

For example, for our Twitter communication plan, we decided to post twice a day which made 10 tweets per week. By taking up the “business development” theme, we took the articles one by one and added two per week.

We did the same thing for the other themes.

I advise you to keep in mind the message you want to convey to avoid duplicate content.

⚠️ Don't forget to define your objectives for each publication

Step 6: Check the linking of your content

This step is important because it will allow you to check the link of your posts and your content. You will thus avoid duplications.

For those who do not want to start from scratch, we created a free communication plan template. 😊

Click here to download our communication plan template.

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