Have you heard what the worst nightmare of new business owners is? Building brand recognition. Believe me or not, but when the company is in its infancy, it constantly struggles to gain new customers, overcome competitors, and establish a credible image. At the same time, success in those efforts would spread the wings of the small business and lead to a loyal customers base.
Marketing strategy is insufficient because it focuses on product promotion rather than customer relationships. However, it is not a dead-end: well-crafted communication strategies can help you promote your brand successfully. In light of my experience, I want to share with you a list of 10 tips on creating a successful communication strategy for start-ups.
Get the basics
Before anything else, you need to ask – what is the communication strategy?
In common understanding, communication strategy is often narrowed down to social media posts. However, it is a much broader term. Communication strategy includes all the content on your website, how you describe your company in the “About Us” section, and how you speak about your company in media releases, job postings, and within the company. Indeed, it involves communication on both internal and external levels and marketing, PR, and HR expertise. The point is to make all of those areas comprehensive.
Base your strategy on the mission statement
The north star of every business is the mission statement. Generally speaking, it summarises the purpose, values, and reason for your company’s existence in one short paragraph.
A clear mission statement serves as a benchmark when developing a communication strategy. Before every publication, you can ask yourself – does it align with our mission? Only YES answers can be posted, as they align with the entire strategy.
Make your communication SMART
Communication strategy is no different from other strategies; it will fail without clear objectives. For best results, make your goals SMART:
- Specific: state clearly what you want to achieve;
- Measurable: be sure you can track the progress;
- Achievable: set an ambitious but reachable goal;
- Relevant: align it with values and long-term goals;
- Timely: set a deadline.
An example of a smart goal is to get 15% of media coverage after pitching your story to local media.
Nobody creates the perfect strategy on the first try. A long road of successes and pitfalls leads to a conception that works best for your company. Therefore, you need to analyse campaign results carefully. The best way to improve is to learn from your mistakes.
Listen to your employees
An entrepreneur breathes life into a small business, but the employees are its heart. Therefore, to gain a deeper understanding of your business, ask your employees about your products and services. They provide the most valuable insight since they work with your product every day and are genuinely interested in its development. Their perspective will broaden your company’s perspective and thereby enrich your communications.
Your business is your story. As a business owner, you are a hero, your company vision is what you want to accomplish to save the world, and all challenges you face are your adventures.
Why is it an important concept? Because the human mind loves narratives. According to neuroscience research, audiences better understand the speaker’s key points if they listen to character-driven stories with emotional content. Also, when narration holds our attention, we tend to share the characters’ emotions even after the story is over. Therefore, the founding myth engages the audience in a meaningful way.
Know your audience
That tip is applicable both for internal and external communication. Knowing the audience goes beyond knowing demographics, age, and gender. Do you know what drives your employees to act or what your customers wish for? Indeed, communication must satisfy the receiver’s needs. You need to understand the audience’s desires to create appealing messages.
Study your competitors
In general, it is a disadvantage that your competitors target the same group of customers as you. However, it’s an excellent opportunity when it comes to communication strategy. As a start-up owner, you are probably new to the business market. But your competitors have been there for years, and in that time, they have studied your target group carefully. Utilise their experience by observing and learning from their communication strategy.
Don’t overdo it
Have you ever seen a Roleski advertisement? It was too complicated to be effective. Indeed, it’s the common point between marketing and PR: simplicity. You speak with regular people, so you don’t need to be too creative, extravagant, or fancy. Keep your communication simple. Fewer words seem more powerful. Take a cue from Starbucks, which summed up their mission in just one sentence:
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person and one cup at a time.
Nowadays, nothing is more valuable for customers than honesty. The same is true for your employees. In the world of fake news, we are looking for reliable sources of information and reputable speakers. While many mistakes can happen as you learn about effective communication strategies, you should never overlook this one point: stay genuine. Just keep your messages honest. Trust is built over time, but one lie can ruin your credibility for years.
Let’s wrap it up
A discussion of communication strategy is like an ocean – vast, diverse, and (hopefully) never exhausting. There are no clear paths because every plan is different, depending on each company’s unique needs. However, the tips above will provide an excellent foundation for developing your own successful communication strategy. I hope this helps you gain loyal customers and, as a result, scale your small business.