How to Turn Around your Business with Communications
Harness the power of communications to set a direction, build momentum and drive change. Done right, it can totally reinvigorate a company.
A mistake that many people make in their business is to silo marketing and communications from core elements of the company. For many people, marketing and communications comes in only at the point that publicity is needed, even though there’s a portfolio of active customers, and there’s been months or years spent developing a new product.
Marketing and communications drives businesses. Not just new business, but enables the company vision and mission to be shared with all key stakeholders that ensures engagement, maintains alignment, encourages production and reinforces values and direction.
Ultimately, integrating communications thinking into all parts of a business leads to far better results, particularly in the current era when everything is very digitalised.
Even when considering sales activity, the low-touch economy - where we’re dealing with multiple channels through digital engagement and communication - means there is a digital sales funnel. This is most often managed by the marketing team. And it’s an essential part of sales today. In fact, more than half of B2B buyers make a decision (‘the buy-in process’) before they actually have a conversation with a business (CSO Insights). The role of marketing and communications is much greater than it has ever been before.
Effective internal communication can lead to productivity increases of up to 25%, according to McKinsey. And, a report by Think Talent shows that employees working in organisations with effective communication plans are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers.
Communication is essential to performance.
At Haynes MarComms, we’re pure PR-ists. By this we mean ‘public relations’, not press relations or publicity - although both are streams of public relations. Public relations is about communicating with everybody – including stakeholders and staff.
So if marketing and communications is about much more than promoting products or services, how do you use communications to drive your business as a whole?
How communications can set a business direction
Something we feel strongly about is that a communications strategy should not stand separately from a business strategy. Rather, the use of communications channels should be dictated by a company’s vision and value proposition. And communications can help businesses delve into the depths of their specific industry to define this too.
By working with stakeholders across the board, a business can truly get to grips with defining not only their products or services, but the influence on the industry they seek to make.
So for external communications to work, and for us to pinpoint the right channels to act as a vehicle for different aspects of a business, a company has a lot of work to do internally to define their direction. At Haynes MarComms we don’t call ourselves business strategists, but our starting point is always to understand the direction of a business and to help curate a narrative and a plan of action around that.
Some questions you could ask about your business to make progress on this include:
What are key milestones the business needs to achieve?
What does the product need to achieve to resonate with its audience?
What is the difference between what the company looks like now, and where you envisage it being?
This last point is an important one. What a business is doing at this current moment in time is not always the same as where a company’s leaders or investors see the business going. Developing a business is a journey, and we work with a lot of businesses who are looking to grow and scale, build their profiles and improve their level of engagement with stakeholders.
As a business, you might have a new product in development, you may be going for funding, or you might wish to expand your footprint in some way. Businesses evolve and so do their target customers, as the company matures you may decide to focus on larger enterprises rather than smaller independent businesses - this requires a very different approach particular in product, price and placement.
Therefore it’s important to know how to package your messages to reach the right audience.
The next steps of a business – or even the ultimate grand plan – are all really important to ascertain before deciding how marketing and communications can help you achieve what you need to at each step.
Building momentum and driving change
Pinpointing the business direction that ties together organisational and operational aspects of a company provides a concrete foundation to plan communications. The milestones and business planning side can ensure marketing is continually pumping out relevant, fresh news and information that allows the business to incrementally grow. It’s about bringing together very well considered messages with the right channels, and identifying what optimal impact looks like.
The marketing and communications mix could blend public-facing campaigns with strategies for engaging with a very specific stakeholder group. Getting the right messages out at the right time – using the most effective channels for each well-defined purpose – builds momentum.
Reaching new heights and pursuing a path towards a point of crescendo is something that a lot of newer and younger businesses in particular are striving for. But some businesses – and particularly the longer standing, more established ones – find themselves in more of a change management phase. Targeted communications can be just as effective for this scenario too; it’s more about reframing some of the questions.
Asking the difficult questions
It can be difficult for established companies when the competition involves a lot of start-up activity and venture capital focusing on new ideas. The key here is to ask yourself what the key challenges and pain points are. What needs to change in your business to alleviate pressures? It might be about reducing costs, or it could be about streamlining processes to become a more agile business. Responding to market changes, the direct economy or wider economic situations, such as cost of living increases or supply chain changes, are all relevant issues for many businesses.
In these situations, communications work could include a piece around engagement with key suppliers to build more robust relationships. There could also be something around internal communications to get employees to buy into a reinvigorated vision. It is worth remembering that this stuff does have economic value too – with 73% of workers saying they feel engaged with a ‘purpose driven’ company (HR Web).
As a business, you need these elements to be able to succeed, just as much as you need sales and profits. Broadening the situations in which marketing and communications is used in a company really can make a tangible difference to the prospects of business success.