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The Commery / Brand

Make them SMART: Setting Communication Objectives

Communication, whether on or offline, needs to be carefully planned. How else can you stand out in a highly connected world, with audiences bombarded with images, messages and videos everywhere they look?

All communication plans, be it in public relations or on social media, start with identifying your ultimate goals, then defining your audiences, and then setting SMART objectives.  Let us take a closer look.

Firstly, what is your goal?

Every business, NGO or individual has an ultimate goal. It could be to sell more, drive traffic to your website, raise funds or simply let people know you are here. Define that goal or goals, to be able to build a communication strategy to help you achieve this goal.

Secondly, who are we talking to? Defining your target markets.

Narrow down your audiences based on demographic, geographic and psychographic factors. Unless your company sells products or services for the masses, you need to clearly define who you are intending to speak to, what drives them and where they are located. You also need to define, as a result of your communication efforts, what actions you want them to take and what behaviors you want to create.

Then set your SMART objectives

Communication objectives can either be SMART, or you might as well scrap them. What does SMART stand for?

Specific – For starters, we need to get specific when setting an objective. This includes adding details of what you are trying to accomplish. i.e. Increase traffic to Company X’s website by 30% in the span of 6 months.

Measurable – But what is an objective, if it cannot be measured? You need to set objectives that you can actually quantify, with measurement tools put in place to do so.

Actionable – All objectives need to be action driven and attainable. Do not set long-shot goals that overwhelm you. Try to break them down into smaller steps that can be achieved, leading you to your ultimate goal.

Realistic – We all know that grand dreams and goals might not go according to plan. Be realistic when setting your objectives. We recommend a periodical review to ensure you are on the right track. Quarterly reviews are best, unless you are in a fast-paced industry and need results now.

Timely – What is the timeframe you want to achieve these objectives by? Very few of us (read: none of us) can plan ahead for the coming 5 years. Markets and tastes change. Economies fluctuate. Products can become obsolete. Technology advancements appear by the minute. Set objectives that are time-constrained and can be achieved with a proper plan in the coming 6 to 12 months.

At The Commery, we help companies, NGOs and individuals set their communication strategies. Get in touch to learn how.

Written by The Commery’s Ceem Haidar

Hand in hand: Market Research and Communication

As the industry evolves with the rise of digital tools and big data, habits are changing. It has become more and more essential for marketers and communicators to understand their clients, targets, markets, tools and even surroundings. Millennials are dominating this sphere and brands are working harder to understand their target markets.

In market research, you can receive insightful data that can be used to set your communication strategy. In the digital era we live in, it has become much easier to collect this data through online and mobile surveys, as well as panels, gauging consumer sentiment towards a product or campaign.

Market research is not only essential in the preparation and planning phase, but it is as important during and after kicking off communication. Whether online or offline, the assessment phase allows professionals to revisit strategies and identify loopholes in their work. It can be done through online surveys, focus groups and social media. The latter being the most cost-effective tool to gather insights.

Trinity Mirror, a newspaper publisher based in the UK, recently commissioned Ipsos Mori to conduct a study to identify the severity of the issue facing brands and advertising, what’s driving this growing feeling of distrust, and how brands and advertising can regain it. The study’s key findings were (Ref: www.ipsos.com):

1. Brands and advertising face challenging times ahead as 42% of people claim to distrust brands and 69% distrust advertising

2. Brands are seen to be part of the establishment, with 38% of people give brands a score of 7+ on a scale of 0-10 where 10 is ‘completely establishment’.

3. Brands are out of touch as people don’t perceive their own lives to be represented in advertising, particularly life outside of London.

4. Brands are undermining their own credibility – 58% of adults don’t trust a brand until they have seen ‘real world proof’ that they have kept their promises. 40% associate brands with being ‘pushy’ and 57% agree that brands should be more careful where they place their advertising.

The key learnings in this regard, as we saw with Trinity Mirror, is that a clear communication strategy with defined targets needs to be set, in order to perform better moving forward. Through this, publications will reach out to advertisers (clients in their case), brands, readers, and their internal team based on what they have learned about the behaviors of each category and from the perception of the general public. In this case, they will cater to each one of these categories in a more direct and engaging way.

How have brand’s voices changed?

The world of marketing and communication has shifted. Prior to the advent of the internet and social media, brands of the world communicated in a one-sided fashion with their consumers, feeding them the intended messages via non-interactive campaigns. Advertisements bombarded consumers, articles appeared in publications… the dialogue was absent.

Nowadays, with the power of social media, brands are much more vulnerable and studies have shown that consumers are more influenced by their peers and network, versus the messages a brand is sharing. This shift has changed perceptions, whereby consumers are expecting more from brands. They expect a connection to be made, personalization of experiences and for brands to listen. After all, where is the first place consumers go to, to vent or complain about a brand?

The brand’s response rate is integral.

How can brands engage consumers more?

1) Tell stories. Storytelling is the new way to engage consumers and capture their attention in a saturated world.

2) Develop emotional connections. Introduce yourself and tell them personal stories. It also helps to source brand ambassadors to create loyalty.

3) Giveaways and gifts. Consumers like to receive gifts. Incentivize it for them via contests and photo competitions. Genuinely make them feel their opinion matters.

4) Listen. When a consumer gives you feedback, acknowledge it. Thank them for taking the time to share with you how you can improve the experience. If you can implement it, do so!