Essential Elements of a Communication Plan

Basically, the purpose of a communication plan is to reach target audiences to spread the word about your business, products or services.

Typically, a communication plan includes the following essential elements:

Goals and Objectives: Define your goals, what you are trying to accomplish and the outcomes you want to achieve with your communication efforts.  Develop SMART objectives that will support the accomplishment of your longer generic goals.

Target Audiences: Identify your target audiences and get to know them.  Define common characteristics and interests.  This element is essential in developing the content of your messages and choosing the best channels, materials and activities, and timing to communicate with your market.

Key Messages: Determine key points you want to get across to your audiences and stay focus on them.  Develop personalized messages to communicate with each of your target audiences.

Channels: Choose the right combination of vehicles to carry your messages to your target audiences considering your budget.  Keep in mind that the selected channels to communicate your messages have an impact on the materials needed and activities to organize.

Materials and Activities: Produce materials and organize activities that are effective and fit well with the vehicles chosen to communicate your messages.  Design the materials around the AIDA formula to catch the attention of the target audiences, raise their interest, create a desire and lead them to take action towards the next step.  Create the content of your promotional materials by answering the 5 Ws: Who, What, Why, When and Where.

Timing and Frequency:  Find out the best time and frequency needed to get your messages across and achieve your goals.  Sort out which message should occur when considering other key dates and deadlines. 

Responsibility: Assign who’s responsible for developing and delivering which message and make sure to get their full commitment.

Budget: Calculate the financial resources needed to implement your communication plan to make sure you have the budget and it is feasible.

Evaluation: Indicate how the results and effectiveness of the communication plan will be measured.  A communication plan is a living document and should be evaluated on a regular basis and improved over time.

In short, a communication plan details who to target, what are the key messages you want to convey, when is the best timing, how and by whom each message will be delivered.

By Alain Boudreau

Twitter: @ALBoudreau

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