Living the Communication Strategy
The Insight 2020 survey by EC-PR researched UK B2B marketers’ priorities and challenges for 2020, and explored their strategic approach to communications, as well as the extent to which communication strategies are implemented to drive business outcomes. 102 marketers participated in the survey which was conducted in Autumn 2019.
You Have a Strategy – so What?
Most Senior leadership teams champion the development of a communication strategy because they recognize it’s instrumental in delivering their company’s vision, focusing resources and ensuring all communications activities are focused and aligned. In theory, a communication strategy puts the customer at the heart of everything a company says and does. But – does it really? Chances are that it may be filed away and forgotten, or simply insufficiently activated in practice.
What are some of the indicators that a communication strategy is being effectively translated into practice to drive positive business outcomes?
For one, such a strategy is ‘Socialized’ among key stakeholders and internal audiences so that it becomes part of conversations, providing focus and cross-team alignment. Essentially, it ensures that everyone is ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’.
Second, an effective communication strategy is Agile – a living document, regularly updated in line with changes in the market and evolving customer needs. To achieve this, the strategy should be regularly validated with customers to ensure the messages resonate with them, and their feedback informs future planning and development.
The Insight 2020 survey has revealed that UK marketers’ communication strategies are currently only partially activated in practice. For example, less than half (47%) of Sales teams understand and use customer personas and messaging, with only 27% of customer service teams understanding and using personas and messaging. It seems that significant proportions of customer-facing teams (let alone other parts of the business!) do not know who they are engaging with and how they should convey their company’s key propositions.
In addition, survey results have also pointed to low levels of external strategy validation with customers, highlighting that a customer-centric culture is still nascent in many UK organizations. In fact, one in three Marketing teams rarely or never validate their communication strategies and 20% of marketers are not sure if they ever validated their messaging with customers.
Engage, Empower and Enable
Of course there’s no magic formula for building internal buy-in and ensuring your strategy’s activation. These certainly require time, dedication and resources. But a few tips below from EC-PR’s tried-and-tested communications approach should enable some quick wins and long-term improvements:
- Engage key stakeholders in the strategic planning process early on to instill a sense of ownership and support. Demonstrate how the strategy will make their jobs easier, better and more productive.
- Arm essential players and customer-facing teams with the tools required to execute the strategy. Organize immersion workshops to ensure they internalize the new messaging and empower them with all the necessary brand assets.
- Regularly validate your strategy with customers to make sure it is aligned with their perceptions and that it meets evolving market expectations.