What to consider in creating stakeholder comms frameworks
Drive your message out to the market with each communication that you send, ensuring it is a tool to help you achieve your commercial goals. Taking the time to build a communications framework from your marketing strategy and core business goals will enable you to make headway faster.
Businesses that really understand its stakeholders and the role each of them plays are those that benefit from the ripple effect of communications. The more your messages are shared outside of your closest network the more power they exude, and the lower your cost of acquisition.
We present the key aspects to a comprehensive communications framework:
Key goals and objectives
What are you looking to achieve?
Above all, you need to ascertain how your communications contribute to your commercial plans. Understand the challenges you have communicating your value proposition; having a clear value framework will help address the key pain points your stakeholders experience.
Look closely at your commercial drivers. Do you need to build supplier relationships, deepen partnerships, reduce the sales cycle, drive revenue or secure higher value customers? Try to avoid doing everything at once as it’ll become one great juggling act, and you don’t want to be dropping any balls. Start by working with one commercial driver at a time to create a communication stream that delivers consistent and relevant messages which chip away at your communications challenges.
Who are you looking at achieving it with?
Identify the most important stakeholders to achieve your commercial goals; those that are going to add immediate value while being part of your longer-term investment. Target clear audience personas: who are they? What are their challenges? How can you help them? And how does your value framework tap into their needs? Address barriers to purchase and drop out points in the sales process.
Develop a buyer persona guide, including key influencers and partners, to keep you focused and have a way of tracking your success from leads to sales. This will also help align messages and engagement throughout the business. Review your personas on an annual basis to ensure you are addressing the right targets.
As part of this process it’s important to understand your current market position from which to build a strategy to fulfil your commercial ambitions. If you’re a startup, it’s unlikely you will start by targeting large enterprises immediately, so determine organisational profiles - the type of companies where your value proposition will resonate - to make achievable market gains quickly and grow sustainably.
What are your key performance indicators?
Consider how you will measure success. Are you looking for more top of the funnel leads, to secure new customers, retain customers, win bigger clients, expand your network or gain attention from specialist talent? Ensure you have a CRM and robust processes to record activity and engagement so you can monitor how your communications frameworks are performing.
Be realistic with timeframes. Unless you're selling an instant buy small ticket item, you cannot expect immediate success - and even then you may only be building transactional relationships rather than longer term, higher value customers.
What are you going to say?
Simplify what you are communicating into a few key messages. Build these into a narrative that allows your audience to understand who you are and what you are offering. Each persona will require a tailored version of your value framework that connects with their immediate needs. Avoid trying to say everything in one go, it can be overwhelming - create a plan that allows you to disseminate the messages over a period of time.
How are you going to say it?
Think about how to best get those messages across using content that relates to each of your buyer profile types. Consider how you can utilise content across numerous channels, repurposing it so it continues to work into the future. This can depend on the complexity of your product or the type of relationship you want to form with your audience. You should use a mix of content to make the most impact including sales collateral, landing pages, reports, news, videos and events.
Read our blog - Diversifying content for the sales funnel
Where are you going to say it?
Not every channel will be appropriate for every audience, and you may need to create specific communities on channels to segment your audience to better communicate your value proposition. This is where the value of a CRM comes into play, enabling you to better manage your direct sales approaches, email marketing and website channels. It also helps you monitor performance to assess your KPIs on a regular basis.
Selecting channels will likely be a trial and test approach, and not all channels work in the same way for every company. You will also need to play with your messaging, iterating the content you share. Like email, where you may be used to running A/B/multi-armed bandit tests, you should do similar testing with all your channels.
How often are you going to engage?
It’s important to be consistent. Having a communications framework and plan with set templates will help you to get off from the starting blocks and build momentum. You’ll need to be realistic with your resources: don’t try to do everything all at once - baby steps will help you build activity into your daily and weekly tasks without it being overwhelming.
As you see increased engagement you’ll find the opportunity to increase the frequency of your engagement.
Call to action
What do you want them to do?
With each piece of communication, have an idea of what you expect your audience to do and how you measure the communication’s performance. This should focus on the action you want your audience to take. While you may send an email, open rates and click-through rates provide an indication of engagement, but if the email fulfills the intended action of purchasing, subscribing or requesting more information then your call to actions are working.
With social media, each post may perform a different function. You might want Likes to check people are seeing your messages, Clicks to drive acquisition, Comments to build dialogue, or Shares to expand your network. If you’re hosting a workshop, think about the immediate outcomes - do you want your audience to become resellers, introduce you to prospects, or increase the use of your platform?
Resources - budget and time
What are you going to invest?
Look back to frequency - be realistic with what time and money you have available. You will need the right assets and platforms to help you achieve your goals, and this requires people's effort. Does your team have the capacity to manage these channels? Because they won’t manage themselves!
Budget can be a sticking point, and if you haven’t ring-fenced time and financial resources to invest in your communications framework, you’re going to stumble at the first hurdle - in fact you might not even leave the starting blocks. If you already have your own database and network this is a cheaper way to start, but if you’re looking to engage with people beyond your network, you will need to invest to acquire leads. Customer acquisition is not free.
Technology - CRM: centralise your contacts, record engagement, assess performance and manage communications channels. Just a couple of example platforms:
Design: ensure you have a consistent company image, invest in branding guidelines and marcoms assets that you can reuse, among them:
Logo, colours, fonts
Sales/ product collateral
Reach: know the expanse of your network and whether you’ll focus on owned channels or if you’ll need to invest in paid- or earned-media channel opportunities.
If you would like to discuss how to initiate the process of building communications frameworks and a plan of action to engage with your audiences, we run free initial consultation workshops to help you prepare the process to drive your messages into the market. Get in touch to find out more.