Resolve to Communicate

It’s a new year. How are your resolutions going? When it comes to your business, don’t get caught on auto-pilot; or, worse, with tunnel vision. Let this year be the year you get to know and grow your brand. Here are a few communications resolutions every business should commit to achieve.

#1: Define your brand.

Okay. So you have a logo, a website and maybe even some marketing materials. But, do you really know your brand; and, if so, are you effectively communicating it? Knowing your brand involves a bit of introspection. You must examine who you are, what you do, how you do it better than anyone else, and what makes you special. It’s an opportunity to build and share your unique story. There’s what you do for your business and then WHY you do it. Don’t lose sight of the character and purpose behind your brand. It’s likely what attracts your customers to you and what keeps them coming back.

#2: Know your audience(s).

Your customers aren’t your only audience. How are you considering other key stakeholders in your business? Take a look around and consider your Board Members, investors, partners and others. How are you engaging these audiences? And, are there opportunities to leverage them to help advance your company and brand?

Beyond this 360-view of your audiences, as you think of your customers, don’t just categorize them in one bucket or by the product or service they buy. Instead, consider what motivates them and why they may be drawn to one product or another. When you begin to analyze your audiences – whether directly through a feedback survey or through a company data analysis – you can identify various “profiles” that will not only help you to connect with current customers but also attract new ones!

#3: Set realistic objectives.

Too often a company or consultant will begin a communications program or plan without clear objectives. So, our first priority is to set strong objectives. What do you want to achieve during this first quarter, the first half of the year or by the end of the year? What awareness, attitude or action do you hope to achieve among your audiences? To have a successful year, you must set your objectives to clearly define your desired end result.

A good objective is a SMART one. In the industry, we say a SMART objective is Specific, Measurable, identifies an Audience, is Realistic and outlines a Timeframe to achieve it. For example:

Just like any resolution, it’s crucial to be realistic with yourself. Nobody likes to fail. So, think about your audiences, priorities and focus for this year and layout at least three communication objectives you hope to achieve.

#4: Get strategic.

Now that you have defined several realistic objectives for your company, you must plan strategically. Getting strategic means approaching your objectives thoughtfully. How will you reach these objectives? It’s not about what you will do; but, instead, how you will do it? What can you build on or take advantage of in your situation (e.g., partnership with a millennial group or key influencer, etc.)? Consider the unique resources your organization may have and leverage them.

Being strategic involves anticipation. It’s not just about how your audiences may respond to the approach; but, first seeing your peripherals in order to determine your approach. What trends are taking place in your industry? What methods are your competitors using and what can you learn from them? Seek to interpret these insights with fresh eyes and notice patterns in the data (e.g., more millennials are using Instagram Stories or Facebook Live Streaming). How might you leverage these channels to reach your target audience and increase subscriptions? You will likely employ several strategies for each of your objectives.

#5: Commit to consistency.

Consistency is paramount when it comes to building trust with your customers. If you’ve established a monthly e-newsletter to your customer base, be sure it’s going out monthly. If you have multiple social channels, be sure you are actively posting to those channels, as well as responding to commentary and monitoring your analytics. Consistency also relates to your brand message. How are you conveying your brand consistently across all of your communication channels? Consider your customer’s journey and how they may experience your brand. Work to ensure that experience is purposeful (in sharing your brand story) and consistent from one customer to the next.

#6: Connect authentically.

As noted above, your brand’s character and purpose are likely what attracts your customers to you. As the year goes on, commit to remaining authentic. Your company may grow, your industry may experience some highs and lows; but, through it all, never lose sight of your authentic self. There’s a reason you began your business and it’s at the heart of why your business will continue to grow and thrive. Customers today don’t only want to connect with your brand but also to relate to your brand. Define your brand voice and communicate it authentically across your channels. Seek to evoke emotion in your customers and specifically the emotion you want them to have for your brand! Authenticity builds trust. A critical factor in garnering brand preference and loyalty among your audiences.

This year holds as much opportunity for your brand and business as you’re willing to put into it. Don’t settle for the status quo or your standard operating procedure. Take a step back and ask yourself these critical questions. Resolving to communicate effectively this year with these six points will ensure the progress and growth every resolution-setter seeks to find!