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How to create a communication plan and reach your customers

Any business needs a comms plan to reach consumers – and that includes trades! Here’s how to create a communication plan that will help you engage your customers, both existing and new.

When we talk about communications, we’re essentially talking about all the interactions you have with your customers other than when you’re actually on the job. Whether that’s emails, blogs, social media or a company phoneline.

Here’s how to create a communication plan that will have you reaching customers old and new, in all the right ways.

What is the main purpose of a communication plan?

As a business, you’ll need to make communications with customers as seamless as possible. A positive interaction will help to reinforce their good opinion of you. A bad communication experience can give them a negative view of your brand that you might not be able to come back from.

The main purpose of a comms plan is to refine the way you communicate with your audience, whether that’s existing customers, warm leads, or consumers who haven’t yet heard of you.

By putting together a  plan, you can make sure you’re communicating the right information to the right people, in a way that’s going to be effective and help you reach your goals.

How to create a communication strategy

If you’re wondering how to create a comms plan, the first step is to answer a few key questions:

  1. Who is your target audience? Do you tend to serve homeowners or the commercial sector? What does your typical customer look like?
  2. How would they like to contact you? Does your typical customer like to contact you by phone? Or would they prefer to wing you an email or WhatsApp message?
  3. How would they like to be contacted? How is your typical customer most likely to enjoy hearing from you? Are they on social media? Would they appreciate a regular email newsletter?
  4. What would they like to hear about? What kind of content would they find valuable? What services might they be interested in?

How to find your target audience

As you can see, the answer to how to create a communication plan revolves around your target audience – in other words, the typical customer that would use your services.

A useful way of working out your target audience – and how you should communicate with them – is to create user personas.

How to create user personas

A user persona is a fictional character that you can create to represent your typical customer.

The best place to start is to define what a typical customer looks like.

  • Who are they? Is your persona a 30-year-old homeowner or a 70-year-old landlord, for instance? You can go into as much detail as you want – even down to whether they’re a cat or a dog person!
  • What are their goals? Think about how your service fits into your persona’s life – which of your services might they be looking for and why? What problems are they trying to solve?
  • What are their obstacles? Consider what might be stopping your persona from reaching their goals. For instance, if you run a handyperson business, your typical customer might be short on time, underconfident with DIY or overstretched with children running around.

If your customers all tend to be similar in their goals and motivations, you could create just one user persona. But often, you’ll find that your customers tend to fall into a few distinct groups. In this case, you’ll need to create two or three user personas to represent your core customer types.

There’s no set way that a user persona needs to look or be laid out – rather, it’s all about creating a persona that you can refer back to, to help you better understand your customers and their needs. Many business owners will give their personas a name and even add a photo so that they can fully picture the person they’re serving!

How to reach your target audience

When it comes to reaching your target audience, you’ll need to consider which channels to use. Remember to refer back to your user persona, and consider which channels are likely to be most appropriate for them.

Some channels to consider include:

  • Email
  • Phone
  • Social media
  • Content
  • Direct mail
  • Advertising (print and online)
  • PR

Add a Checkatrade profile to your comms plan

Create a Checkatrade profile to boost your online reputation and make a great first impression

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How to communicate with your target audience

Once you’ve decided what channels you’re going to be using to contact your audience, you’ll need to decide what you’re actually going to be communicating with them about. In other words, what would they like to hear about from you?

As a trade business, some ideas include:

  • Tips and tricks related to what it is you do
  • Before and after photos
  • Case studies
  • Updates about your services

Remember also that a communication plan isn’t just about you reaching out to your audience. It’s also about them being able to contact you. Consider what kind of experience you want them to have if they need to get in touch with you to ask a question, book in a quote or even sadly make a complaint.

What should a communications plan include?

A communications plan should include information about what you want to communicate, who should receive the information, when the information should be received, where it will be shared and how the communications will be tracked and analysed.

It can also be helpful to include some extra details, such as any additional budget you need to allocate to turn your plan into a reality.

When it comes to tracking and analysing your communications, it’s important to pinpoint some KPIs (key performance indicators). These will allow you to measure how successful your communications have been.

Remember that goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). For instance, if you want to cut email response times, you might set yourself a target of 80% of customer emails being responded to within 48 hours, and you might give yourself three months to reach this target.

Free communications plan template

Now that you’re confident with what a communications plan is and what it should include, it’s time to put yours together! Here’s a template to help.

Your free comms plan template will cover

Email

Email can be a valuable channel for communicating with your customers. Not only is it a useful way for them to get in touch with you if they have questions, but a regular email to your existing customers and warm leads can be a great way to remind them that you’re there and available.

Phone

The phone tends to still be the favourite method for people to contact you, especially if there’s a problem that needs resolving quickly. Having good phone communications in place is a great way to earn customer trust.

Social media

Social media can be a valuable tool to reach customers where they are, and to engage them with entertaining content.

Content publishing

Aside from social media, you can post other kinds of content to engage your customers and keep them interested in your brand.

The kind of content you choose to publish should keep in mind your target audience, as well as your goals. For instance, publishing blogs that are optimised for search engines (SEO) can help you to be found by customers on Google.

Direct mail

Direct mail is a type of marketing that involves physically delivering marketing through consumers’ letterboxes. It can be a great way to get more enquiries from local homeowners who need help with their properties.

Advertising

Communication through advertising and promotion can be a key part of marketing your trade business. We’d recommend using both print and digital advertising to ensure you’re reaching as many customers as possible.

Sound good? Grab your free template below

How do you structure a comms plan?

There’s no one right way to structure a comms plan – rather, it’s all about what’s going to be most useful to help you reach your goals and your target audience.

That said, it might be helpful to follow this basic structure.

  1. Your goal – what do you want your communication to achieve?
  2. The content – what will the communication be about and what will the call to action (CTA) be?
  3. The timing – when will you share the communication and how often?
  4. Which channel – where will you share it?
  5. The methods – what tools or platforms will you use to share it?
  6. The audience – who will you send the communication to?
  7. Who’s responsible – who in your team is responsible for sending out the communication?

How to create a communication plan – key takeaways

  • A communication plan is essential to help you communicate seamlessly with customers and leave a positive impression.
  • Creating user personas can help you to tailor your communications to your target audience.
  • Think about the experience you want your customers to have when they’re contacting you, as well as vice versa.
  • Consider which channels are going to be most powerful in helping you to reach your target audience.

Add a Checkatrade profile to your comms plan

Create a Checkatrade profile to boost your online reputation and make a great first impression

Find out more

 

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