There is an ever-increasing number of external communication applications, all of which support process and targeting. Traditionally siloed solutions, are united through Zaps, or their capabilities combined into centralised marketing automation platforms that enable highly personalised communications to your target audience.
While these tools certainly help make the day to day communications easier, especially for large marketing teams running multiple campaigns across segmented audiences, they don’t write the communications themselves and they don’t create the strategy and forethought behind them. Understanding your market, your customer, your audience is key to effectively communicating, and once you have this in place you can utilise the digital capabilities to set up the ‘if’ ‘then’ ‘when’ workflows to ensure the right message reaches the right audience at the right time.
While the tools may vary slightly between internal and external communications the rule themselves do not, ensuring the message is relevant, succinct and truthful remains key. One key difference, however, is that when communicating externally your corporate message is diluted by all your competitors out there trying to achieve the same goal. So, how do you stand out amongst all the noise? Well the capabilities are there but it's not easy to do. Your message may be unique, powerful and engaging, the offer may be obscenely good and your product or service head and shoulders above your competitors but you still have to be heard. Simply continuing to churn out a constant stream of communications does work in some cases but having a considered strategy underpinning the communications is much more effective.
Our Gravity 9 top tips for effective external communications are:
1. Know your audience. Unless you do the research upfront there really isn't much point in continuing. And by this we don’t mean, assume you know your audience based on one or two individuals, actually carry out proper research into your target audiences. Only then can you understand what vehicles they will engage with, the tone of voice they will respond to and the problems they are looking to solve. From this you can craft communications that truly resonate.
2. Create a community around your brand. There could be multiple communities for different facets of the brand or sub brands but essentially you are building loyalty, a sense of ownership and persuasion. Apple is fantastic at doing this, if you are looking to upgrade your phone, buy a new laptop or even invest in a smart watch, ask around for recommendations and you'll find an army of unofficial brand ambassadors for Apple doing their selling for them!
3. Be concise and clear. Effective communications say what they need to say and move on. People are busy, they don’t have time to stop and read, you need to provide the hook, the teaser, just enough to get the target interested and then advise them where to go for more information. While different platforms vary how much you can include in your communication, ensure what you are saying and how you are saying it fits the platform. Videos are great for social apps but not too long, web content should vary in its media combining text, visuals and video.
4. Deliver on your promises. Another obvious one maybe, but one where many can easily fall down. If you promise the earth you have to deliver it. It follows on well from the point above as if your message isn't clear then it is open to interpretation which is a dangerous place to be. However, once you are communicating clearly you must be able to deliver on the promises you make. The communication platforms make it ever easier for customers to very quickly damage your brand if they feel they have been misled.
The tools are available to make external communications more efficient and targeted but the groundwork has to be put in first to create a strategy and build the content.
One last thought
While we have not provided you with all the answers to concurring the world through effective communications you can't just relay on the digital capabilities available today. The platforms, applications and growing evolution of digital communications in our lives isn't going to slow down as organisations must get smarter with how they use them in order to really be heard over all the noise. Be prepared to grow and adapt, in fact, go a step further; actively seek to evolve and adapt, that way you can stay one step ahead. It's no fun playing catch up!