I was asked recently in an interview what it means to be strategic when it comes to the way you/your brand communicates, and whether it’s something that anyone can do.
My first response was a huge ‘YESSSSS!’ because I just LOVE this question!
Not only because I just love talking about all things strategic communication, and communication in general (and just talking in general :P) but because it gets straight to the crux of a super common misconception for all the heart-centred entrepreneurs out there.
‘Being strategic’ doesn't have to be a hyper-masculine (in the energy sense) activity. It can be lovingly, soulfully driven and full to the brim of softness and feminine energy. In other words, strategy and a heart-centred approach are not mutually exclusive, but there seems to be this idea floating round that they’re a bit like they’re polar opposites.
That’s just not the case, or at least it doesn’t have to be. Let’s start by demystifying this intimidating word “strategy”.
A marketing and communications strategy sounds like something you need a degree and a three piece suit to develop. It feels like something complex, special, reserved for the ‘big brands’ with ‘big budgets’ and ‘big teams’.
But, I’m going to let you in on a little industry secret here; a strategy is really just a plan with a clear outcome or objective.
Being strategic is really about taking a step back and understanding what you’re trying to achieve from a business perspective and then looking at how your communications - your social media, your marketing, your sales page, the whole spectrum - can contribute towards achieving those business goals.
A business goal is what you’re working towards within your business. (NOTE: like any worthwhile goal these should always be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) For example, increase revenue by 15% month-on-month over the next 3 months. OR, attract 4 new ideal clients into my business the next 30 days.
“Hhhmmm, this is starting to sound a little more ‘corporate marketing’ than ‘heart-centred’,” I hear you say. Well this is where the all important ‘why’ comes in to play.
I’m a firm believer that business goals should always link directly to your ‘why’ and to the way you want to feel within your business. If your ‘why’ is to create a business that you love that brings ease and abundance into your life, then increasing your revenue is helping you to achieve that. If your ‘why’ is to reach and serve as many of your ideal clients as possible then that aligns with attracting new clients.
In other words - while a ‘business goal’ like increasing revenue might feel cold and disconnected on its own if it is tied directly to your ‘why’ then it can still be filled with passion and purpose.
Knowing your business goal is the first place you need to start whenever you’re planning any kind of marketing and communication activity. You gotta know what you’re trying to achieve, or else how do you decide what you should or shouldn’t be doing?
How do you avoid wasting time chasing every shiny object or new ‘trend’ that pops up?
How are you ever going know if what you’ve done has worked?
How are you going to measure the return on your investment (be it time invested, money invested, emotional investment etc)?
And how do you make sure that what you are investing your time, money and energy into is serving and strengthening your brand?
You NEED to know exactly what you are trying to achieve.
The second thing you need to think about is what, from a marketing and communications perspective, would help you to achieve this business goal? This is where you create some lovely communications objectives. These should ladder up to your overall business goal; so think about it like this, what do I need to achieve from a marketing perspective in order to reach my business goal?
This may be increasing traffic to your website, increasing the conversation rate of that traffic once it hits your site, increasing the reach of your social media channels etc. (Again, these should always be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely - that means nothing airy fairy like I’ve just rattled off there. Put a number on it, put a timeframe on it, be realistic and make sure it’s something you can legitimately hit.)
Once you know your business goal and your communications objectives then it’s all about developing a plan to make it happen. You look at your communications channels - your social media, your email, your sales page, your network, paid advertising, etc - and you plan out what you will do and how you will use each of these.
Think about it like this:
Have you ever put together a piece of furniture from Ikea? You know, you see it in-store and it looks so sturdy and complete, and then you get this flat-pack box full of a million little bits and pieces - screws, handles, sliding thingys and a single little Allen Key that’s supposedly all you need to be able to turn all that stuff into a set of draws.
Oh, and the one most important piece that completes the set - the instruction booklet - without which you’re guaranteed to end up with a coffee table instead of a dresser. (And even with the instructions I STILL always seem to end up with one left over screw?!?)
Anyway, the overall goal you’re working towards (aka the business goal) is to have somewhere to store all those extra pairs of yoga tights you bought online without telling your husband (just as a random example, not that I’d know anything about being unable to say ‘no’ to fancy patterned stretchy pants :P).
The ‘communications objective’ is to put together a set of draws that will help you to achieve said business goal. You have a very clear, specific and measurable picture of your end result - what that set of drawers looks like, what dimensions you need it to be etc.
The way that you will achieve that objective (aka your new draws) is by following those precious instructions - the plan!
Business goal + communications objective + step by step plan = strategy! BOOYA!
It’s pretty safe to say that you’re probably already doing this in some way or another. Anytime you’re planning a launch, opening your books to new clients or running an event you probably already take the time to work out what you need to do in order to make that a success - in other words, achieve your business goal. And as long as that goal is holding hands with your ‘why’ then your heart should be leading every step of the way.
See! Strategy isn’t so daunting and doesn’t have to be a stressful concept, because you’re probably doing it already! Happy dance time :)
All it takes to ‘be strategic’ is that you take the time to get clear on what you’re trying to achieve and align that with the steps you’re going to take to help you get there.
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