Strategy before tactics

by | 23 Mar 2021

Hey, hold up!

Before you share that next social post, launch your pretty new website, or send out your enticing email campaign, ask yourself, ‘Does this content align with my communications strategy?’.

I know it’s tempting, particularly for small businesses and entrepreneurs, to jump in and share shiny new content because you think your audience will probably like it.

You’re enthusiastic, emotionally invested and time-poor. So if you have something cool to share, you get on and do it, right?

I get it! I’ve even fallen into this trap myself as a small business owner.

But if you don’t have a solid strategy that flows through your website, social posts, email campaigns and promotions, you’re pretty much just spraying out tactics in the hope that something sticks. And most of it won’t.

Your strategy defines your approach

Spending time developing a good strategy will save you time and money in the long run. Ensuring your content always aligns with your strategy means you’ll create compelling content that matters to your audience.

This content is like gold dust. It will give you a bang for your buck.

Start with questions

To develop a communications strategy, you’ve got to start by answering a lot of questions.

Start by asking:

  • Who’s your ideal customer?

  • Where do they lurk?

  • What problem are you trying to solve for them?

  • Why should they choose you over your competitor?

  • What kind of experience do you want them to have?

  • What do your current customers say about you?

If you take a step back and build your strategy first, you’ll be able to go forth and communicate with focus, clarity and consistency.

If you need help stepping back and building your communication strategy, please get in touch.

Aussie employees are quiet quitting en masse, with disengagement estimated to cost the country over $200 billion a year.

These shocking stats fuel the importance of internal communications to connect with and engage employees rather than simply broadcast.

The truth is, you can splash your strategy across dazzling slide decks, videos, intranet sites and emails until everyone chants the company mantra in their sleep. But if your messages don’t connect the dots in a relevant, relatable and engaging way, why should employees care?

Effective internal communication is not about playing the tune repeatedly until it’s stuck in your employees’ heads. It’s about making them want to dance to the music in the first place.

If you need to check whether your internal communications are in tune, an audit is a great place to start.

Facing up to any disconnect you uncover allows you to craft content that genuinely resonates.  

Here’s my five-step guide to conducting an internal communications audit as the springboard for an impactful strategy. Let’s get cracking.

audit internal comms

1. Map your channels

Take a little stroll across the employee communication landscape. It’s time to examine all the ways your people find out information.

Obviously, hit up email, intranet, social channels, internal events and even the kitchen posters… but look beyond the usual content pushed by the communications teams.

Are business unit leaders sending team newsletters? Are rogue town halls happening in some parts of the business? Have online communities formed around projects or interests? Dig deeper. 

Catalog every existing touchpoint to unearth hidden disconnected fragments. Like an archaeologist assessing a dig site.

Next, critically evaluate whether each channel and message authentically supports the business strategy in an engaging way.

Hot tip: Slyly rope in eagle-eyed outsiders like marketing pros or external comms advisors to validate content quality. An impartial squiz means more honesty and less smoke-blowing.

2. Analyse your metrics

Take a big spoonful of data soup.

Dive into:

  • Intranet analytics
  • Email open and click rates
  • Event attendance
  • Video views
  • Social content reach and engagement

Pick out patterns. Map the hits and the misses. Do some emails get high hits while others don’t make it through the gates?

You’ll soon get a good feel for what content works and what doesn’t.

3. Pick some brains 

So you’ve got your list of current channels and performance data.

Now, it’s time for some direct audience opinions to cement how your internal communications are currently landing.

Whip up a survey, run focus groups and one-on-one interviews with people across the business to understand your employees’ perceptions.

Ask people:

  • Where and how they source information
  • If they feel connected to the company vision and their leaders
  • What content and channels they find most useful
  • What content they tend to disregard

Engaging external consultants to facilitate focus groups and interviews can eliminate bias and assure confidentiality.

4. Study your market

Cast a cheeky side-eye at competitors and speak to peers in adjacent sectors using wow-worthy communications. Where are others raising the bar?

Explore channels and formats that set industry peers apart.

And tap people outside your bubble. What can you learn from vendor partners, agencies, consultants and conference speakers? People who cross between organisations can offer revelations.

Of course, it’s important to amplify what makes your culture distinct. But stay open-minded to piloting initiatives successful elsewhere that could translate or be tailored to your teams.

Ideas borrowed and bettered from broader viewpoints demonstrate commitment to continuously enriching the employee experience.

5. Create next-level experiences

Next, look at your findings. You may have discovered some channels firing on all cylinders alongside some gaps that need some spark.

Now is the time to get a succinct strategy down on paper.

Start by mapping out the ideal future state. What do you want your internal communications to achieve?

Now, use everything you’ve learnt to manifest the vision. 

Look for quick wins you can implement right away. Then, lay longer-term foundations for improvements that will take time to build.

Focus on strategies that map to your objectives. And sprinkle in temperature pulses to measure progress. 

Keep your research findings about your employees’ preferences top of mind, and tailor your communication strategy to meet their needs.

Establish clear ownership and a process for everything you’re proposing. Stay ambitious but be realistic given constraints like team bandwidth.

Speaking of bandwidth

I get it. The team is so busy doing the do that you don’t have the capacity to step back and declutter your communications.

As an internal communications specialist who loves to simplify complex messaging legacies, I’m happy to advise or lend outsider objectivity.

If you’re too swamped to tackle a content audit yourself, get in touch

Need another set of hands?

It’s time to craft communication that engages and converts your niche tribe into happy customers or employees.

I’m a freelance communications consultant and content writer for busy teams. Let’s chat about how I can help you create content that wows.

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