In part 1 of this blog, I spoke about the first four key elements that define a communication plan. These are: the context, the stakes, the objectives, and the target markets, along with the axes of communication and messages. I used this as a basis to evaluate the presentations submitted to me as part of the course I teach at the Université de Montréal entitled “Interactive Business Communication”.
Now, let’s talk about elements 5,6, and 7
I have to mention the quality of the elements that were analyzed in the second part of the communication plan. Indeed, the means and online tools presented proved very relevant. In addition, the majority of the teams took the initiative to establish realistic schedules, means of evaluation, and tools.
5. B2B communications plan means and tools
According to the established objectives, one must determine the best media, tactics, and tools to reach the target. As expected, although some teams kept more traditional tools, the majority of the means suggested were digital. Also, two teams presented models of the proposed tools. This can prove to be a good tactic as it enables the customer to better envision them.
Among the proposed tools was the redesign of the website. This included a company blog, newsletter, social media presence and creating a community or following. This type of inbound marketing strategy appeared in every communication plan. Much emphasis was placed on the importance of being accessible anywhere and on any platform – think mobility.
New in 2016
Personalization of site content, collaboration and idea sharing by way of ideagoras ( a term coined by Don Tapscott), intensive use of video and web TV are among the trends and new ways mentioned. One team even included the notion of “gaming” to increase website traffic and retain audiences. A bold idea. In terms of technology, WordPress got cited repeatedly as the web development platform of choice, particularly for the creation of a company blog.
6. Planning or schedule
Now that the means and tools are selected, they should be timed in a strategic way, according to the given schedule and planned budget. To do this properly, it is important to consider the necessary human resources to carry out the plan. Also, it is vital to evaluate financial and material resources as well.
A schedule over a period of three years was favored by teams that included this element in their plans. In addition to the idea of testing tactics for the implementation of pilot projects when dealing with major investments, I liked the idea of dividing up the calendar in phases. This tactic can reassure the client. It can allow you to schedule downtime to assess the situation, adjust the budget, revise the schedule evaluate the plan and optimize it, based on results obtained at the end of important steps within the project.
7. The evaluation
What good is working on a B2B communications plan if there are no means to evaluate it? According to the objectives, key performance indicators, or KPI, must be set and evaluated on a regular basis. If the results are positive, all is well. But it is possible that results don’t meet expectations. In this case, one should not see this as a failure but react quickly to optimize the strategy. You have to remember that, in any B2B communications plan, there are intangible benefits such as: how could you measure the growth of a sense of belonging?
Although only one team had formulated a quantifiable communication objective, I was impressed that the majority of the teams had included a means of evaluation. Among the most popular: satisfaction surveys, site traffic analysis and conversion rates, as well as the number of target audience shares or comments in social media.
It’s always a rewarding experience to evaluate my students’ work. And to their credit, the criteria for evaluating the communication plans were the same as those used to evaluate an agency. These included the quality of the presentation, the pitch, relevance, realism and originality of the plan and proposed tactics and tools. It also included the integration of the seven elements of a communication plan. Finally, it contained the one essential thing needed to improve a plan: the means used to evaluate the plan’s success.
My congratulations to the students!
By the way, in the spring 2016 class, one team particularly stood out. Because of the quality of their work and originality of their presentation, the client requested a copy of their plan and asked to meet the team.