The communication plan is the materialization of your communication strategy in the form of a document. What is his goal ? The communication plan details the external and internal communication actions planned for the year (or over the next 2 years). It defines for each action the objectives, budgets, channels and messages to be disseminated. It serves as a course to follow to optimize your investments. This framework allows you to set a course of action for all members of your company.
In order to guide you on the right path, we have summarized for you the essential points to respect in order to carry out an effective communication plan.
Communication plan: take stock of the situation and define the context of the project
Before you jump headlong into the creation of tables, graphs or statistics, let’s start with the basics: the evaluation of what already exists.
Draw up a composite portrait of your company
What are the current strengths and weaknesses of your business?
Are you in the launch of a business or the creation of a new product? In a more mature structure? Is your company still unknown to your target? Would you like develop your business ? Who is your product or service aimed at? BtoB, BtoC? Who are your competitors ?
These general questions allow you to make a first internal and external diagnosis of your company . To help you in this task, orient yourself towards the realization of a SWOT (the marketing matrix: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).
Then list the means that your company has, both in human terms (number / expertise / trades), and financial. This with the aim of estimating, according to your expenses and your income of money, a global envelope intended for your communication.
Define your commercial target
We are gradually getting to the heart of the matter: defining your commercial target . Each product or service is aimed at a specific clientele. The segmentation of your market is necessary and can be defined according to an age group, a gender, a CSP (socio-professional category), users of an existing service or product, etc. .
Even if your offer is “general public”, you still have the possibility of segmenting your target. You grant your axis of communication by the channel , the format, the bottom or the form. Adapt to your audience.
In the event that your means are limited, focus only on your core target . It simply represents the largest segment of your prospects and customers. You prioritize your actions towards them in order to achieve your goals.
Create buyer personas
The creation of buyer personas is a crucial step in the development of your communication plan . Defining robot portraits of your targets assures you:
- Correctly adjust your messages. For example, you adopt a serious tone when talking to a banker.
- To find the right communication channels. For example, if you are targeting teenagers, you would favor social networks such as TikTok ™ or Snapchat ™.
To do this, define all the stakeholders, all the end or intermediary users of your product / service, and create standard profiles of prospects.
This step should not be neglected, which can sometimes be long depending on your concept. However, the more you understand your targets, the more effective you are in your communication actions. In general, I recommend creating 2-3 personas per product or service.
Communication plan: identify the right channels
Define your communication channels
To send your messages, choose one (or more) distribution channel (s), depending on your target, your activity and your budget.
Here is the list of the main communication channels:
- Events: shows, fairs and all direct actions with consumers;
- The media: radio (requires a certain budget), television (requires an even larger budget) or cinema;
- The print: all paper supports ( visit card , flyer , commercial brochure , advertising poster…) ;
- The website, traffic acquisition , digital advertising (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.) and remarketing ;
- Social networks ( be present on LinkedIn ™ , on Facebook ™, on Instagram ™, …);
- The creation of a blog.
You are free to use the channels that suit you according to your budget and your targets. But, it is not necessary to have an astronomical budget to be known. Viral content, sent at the right time to the right channel, can be the trigger for new notoriety.
Post your messages on social networks
Today, some levers such as social networks are becoming strategic, it is still necessary to choose the right platform adapted to your target.
- LinkedIn ™ is the ideal platform for more formal or BtoB-oriented communication. The professional social network is appropriate for the development of your business, your social selling or to find customers in particular thanks to the Proinfluent® Method.
- Instagram ™ is indicated to develop your “ brand image “. Be careful, it is not enough to open an account and post pictures on the network to make your brand popular. On Insta, it is your “image” that is propelled. Create your own photographic style, highlight your products in an original and visual way, become the ambassador of a unique style for your company.
- Facebook ™ is the social media giant with more than 2.7 billion users (see social media figures ). It is essential in BtoC especially to advertise your products or services.
- Pinterest ™, the inspirational social network is mostly female ( 60% female audience ).
- TikTok ™ is a popular teen music video sharing network.
- And many others …
Remember rule number 1: don’t go out on a social network just to get media coverage. You have to be present on a regular, strategic and ongoing basis to have results.
Communication plan: develop your content
Tell your story
Creating a brand image is also based on experience, values, a situation in which you said to yourself: I must meet this need in this way! This is called “the promise”, in other words: your way of responding to a problem.
Adding “storytelling” to your communication helps you stand out from your competitors, create a closer link with your target market and boost your commercial performance .
Sharing values, lifestyle, ambitions, from an ecological, economic or societal point of view reinforces the feeling of belonging that your users have with your brand.
Create your message
As for the message itself, use your imagination. Use your story, your values, the characteristics of your products, your understanding of your target audience, the problem you are solving, your anecdotes, whatever you have to craft THE right message.
To point you in the right direction, remember that your message should:
- Match a single target;
- Be original;
- Be easily remembered;
- Trigger an action;
- Be understood by your target;
- Arouse an emotion;
- To convince.
It must be clear and adapted to your communication medium so as not to sow confusion in the mind of your target. To be sure that your message contains the necessary information, in your communication plan answer the following questions:
- What ?
- For who ?
- Why ?
- Where ?
- How? ‘Or’ What ?
To summarize, create your own editorial slant and use the particularity of each broadcast channel to highlight it.
Communication plan: define objectives and allocate budgets
Set clear goals
Indispensable elements of the communication plan: the definition of operational objectives.
We do not carry out a marketing strategy without hoping for repercussions for its notoriety, its sales, its image or any other positive element for the growth of your company.
In general, the objectives of your communication plan are to:
- Increase the notoriety of your brand (website traffic / social networks);
- Boost your sales (turnover);
- Get ahead of your competitors (market share);
- Raise awareness (increase engagement );
- Retain your customers (turnover / market share).
Measurable and quantifiable objectives
Either way, your goals must be measurable, quantifiable, and analyzable over time. Any action must make it possible to change an existing situation and to be renewed or corrected. You simply need to be able to drive the performance of your actions.
To help you, use the SMART method . It allows you to define objectives:
- Specific (precise, with an assignment by role within your company);
- Measurable (to be analyzed numerically and dynamically);
- Acceptable (achievable objectives validated by your teams);
- Realistic (no 20-year strategy, must generate a source of motivation for you and / or your teams);
- Temporary (limited in time and if possible resulting from clearly defined actions).
Define a budget in your communication plan
Allocating a communication budget is not easy, especially since this step is essential in order not to derail your business.
The communication budget frames your actions and assesses the expenses to develop your business without financial risk. Your communication actions must not encroach on your operating needs (HR, material or financial).
In the context of a start-up, funds are generally limited, and visibility needs are high. But having a small envelope does not mean being satisfied with minimal communication, on the contrary!
Generally speaking, communication expenses are between 2 and 10% of your turnover. This budget is obviously to be modulated according to the maturity of your product or service, and your business.
- In the launch phase, your budget is high because you have to make your brand known;
- In the maturity phase, when your product or service is recognized by your target, reassess and stabilize your investment.
To reduce your expenses while maintaining maximum visibility, target digital advertising first. This is easily mastered, much less expensive than events, radio spots, TV and billboards.
To do this, create a blog and benefit from natural referencing (free) by producing unique and original content. Content marketing is in line with what we saw in the creation of your message: tell a story and spread your promise to your target audience. To be effective, develop in addition to the communication plan a digital marketing strategy .
Communication plan: plan actions
Plan communication actions
Now that you have done most of the job by defining your target, your message, and choosing your different media, all you have to do is plan your communication actions.
The goal is to control the time as well as the expenses related to your communication actions. Be careful however, we are not talking here about a distribution schedule for your social networks with a day-by-day detail of your publications . It is rather a retro planning in which you list the operations to be carried out such as sending your press kit to journalists.
You must estimate over a long enough period (by quarters for example), the levers that you activate to deploy your communication strategy.
To do this, simply create an Excel file in which you list all the actions to be performed, when to perform them and by whom. Set a time for analysis and correction at the end of each period and repeat the following month.
Use project management tools
Unfortunately, the Gantt chart as we know it today is a bit outdated. From project management tools modern such as Asana make your life easier. This platform is more ergonomic and combines many marketing, sales and planning functions.
Also take advantage of current events, important dates of the current year and to come (Olympic Games, elections, seasons …) to try to “buzz” on specific events. Many start-ups have made themselves known with pretty media buzz, why not you?
Communication plan: measure your actions
Analyze KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) and evaluate the return on operation
There is no point in carrying out strategic actions if you do not analyze them to adjust your strategy during the year. Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of your actions is essential. Here is a list of some indicators:
- Increase in sales, the number of meetings, the number of quotes obtained after a communication campaign (posting, emailing, etc.);
- The traffic to your website, the bounce rate, the time spent on each page, etc. ;
- The number of subscribers and reactions on your social networks.
As part of a digital communication strategy, Google Analytics is your best ally. Take the time to study how it works, many online training courses (free or paid) exist. You then access a very large number of indicators on your site, your blog, your product pages and almost anything that can collect a tracking pixel.
Examples of analysis
Take the example of an emailing campaign containing a short description of your activity, several buttons to products or your contact page. You collect a BtoB prospect base to which you send this campaign.
The goal of this newsletter may be to bring more traffic to your site or make additional sales .
You measure the impact of this campaign by analyzing the initial data from your emailing platform:
- The opening rate ;
- Click rate on links;
Then, by analyzing the parameters reported on Google Analytics:
- Traffic from email;
- Engagement rate;
- Most viewed pages;
- Rebound rate
There are a very large number of them, it is up to you to define what allows you to quantify the impact of your actions and to be able to adjust them subsequently.
Let’s take a second example: you are holding an event during which you win one of your products by asking your audience to tag your event to be drawn ( #myevenement) . You can analyze KPIs related to the defined hashtag:
- Number of subscribers to your page;
- Number of tweets / likes / shares;
- Increased traffic to your site;
- Increase in your turnover;
- Progress of such product over another, etc.
Tools to put in place to carry out your communication plan
To help you carry out your communication plan in the best conditions, we have put together some innovative tools for you:
Trello: This free tool allows you to design tables (kanban) in the form of a Todo List. You create your categories, and insert labels bearing the name of the task to be accomplished. A “to do” column, a “in progress” and a “finished” column, and you’re off to organize all your tasks. Attach documents, lists, share with your colleagues, etc. This collaborative tool is extremely easy to use and allows you not to forget a single step of your project.
Asana : We have already talked about it, Asana offers a large number of features to organize your marketing actions. This tool also has a free basic version to introduce you to project management and the various features offered. This shared workspace offers you great freedom, and above all, clarity in the management of your tasks. All your work and goals are stored in one place. Gather your monitoring tables, your Gantt charts, your emails and all your exchanged documents under one roof.
To learn more about this tool, download the basic version and discover step by step how this revolutionary solution works.
Google Analytics: How to analyze the performance of your marketing campaigns or your website traffic? With the free Google Analytics tool. We quickly explained the interest previously, just know that it allows you to cross an incalculable amount of data.
Toucan Toco: Available on all media (mobile, computer, tablet), Toucan Toco is the n ° 1 data cross-referencing tool. It is used by large groups such as: Renault, AXA, Nexity, Crédit Agricole, or even Vinci. Just remember that everything related to data analysis, visualization, and sharing with your teams is simplified by this tool.
CRM, sales and inbound marketing tools
Hubspot: This very powerful CRM brings together everything you need to organize your sales and marketing actions. ‘inbound marketing : Conversion pipeline, contact management, dashboards and reports, transaction monitoring… In short, this tool is your marketing teams’ best ally! Also get a free version to find out.
You can also realize your personas for free thanks to Hubspot , and thus achieve the ideal profile of your future customers.
Communication plan: concrete example and complete guide: in conclusion
- To sum up, your communication plan should bring together:
- The inventory of your business, take stock of your strengths and weaknesses to take stock;
- Define your target using personas, and segment it;
- Your short and medium term goals by making sure they are measurable and achievable;
- Your actions to be taken by determining the messages and distribution channels;
- Your communication budget for each operation according to your needs and your objectives;
- Your action plan and a timeline;
- The measured elements (KPI) to be able to adjust your strategy and increase your chances of success.
Communication plan: to summarize in 3 questions
Qu’est-ce qu’un plan de communication ?
It is a document that brings together your external and internal communication strategy, your objectives, your actions, your action plan and your budget. It guides you to carry out your presence on the various media and communication supports. It is also a reference to ensure the consistency of messages according to your targets and the channels used.
Je suis seul à diriger ma société, suis-je obligé de réaliser un plan de communication ?
Yes, even for autoentrepreneurs, consultants, trainers, people starting a business, it is advisable to carry out your communication plan. Simply because a well-prepared communication strategy is often the key to effectively growing your business. The communication plan allows you to anticipate your actions and distribute your investments according to your objectives.
Quels sont les éléments indispensables d’un plan de communication ?
Your communication plan must bring together 7 essential elements. 1. The current balance sheet of your business in context. 2. The definition and segmentation of your targets. 3. Your communication goals. 4. Your messages and the chosen distribution channels. 5. Your budget allocated to each action. 6. Your action plan. 7. Measured elements (KPI) to continuously adjust your strategy.