Communications marketing plan


An integrated communications marketing plan makes all aspects of an organisation’s communications work together. A simple theoretical framework (Lasswell’s Model) underlies the integrated communications marketing plan:

Who (says) What (to) Whom (in) What Channel (with) What Effect (for) How Much

The who

The who, the COMMUNICATOR (your organisation or business) needs to properly identify itself using image and branding to give it visibility.

Emphasis must be placed on establishing brand identity so that customers derived from your advertising and marketing efforts come to you and not to your competitors.

In building brand identity we use a step-wise process for researching an organisation. We use site visits, simple observation of service, staff interviews and possibly surveys of the organisation’s staff and customers. Once the organisation’s identity has been established a branding strategy is proposed and put in place. Design of livery, stationery and logos are agreed.

The what

The what, the MESSAGE, is the set of ideas about you, your services or products that you want out in the market place.

You can take several approaches or use a combination:

  • a rational appeal to the economic person – e.g. quality, performance, economy, value for money;
  • an emotional appeal to the intuitive person – e.g. fear, love, pride, shame, guilt;
  • a moral appeal to the citizen – e.g. a fair go, equality.

Many businesses want to tell their customers everything about themselves – bare their very souls. Forget it! Keep it simple: you are one small voice in a crowd – what you want to say has to be clear, concise and stand out.

Your key messages must support your business plan. What you want to emphasise comes from there. If you don’t have a business plan, we have to create a defacto one or encourage you to write one.

Once developed, your key messages are woven into all your communications: for instance if you are providing quality over price you need to emphasise quality in all your communications.

The whom

The whom, the RECEIVERs of your messages, are your organisation’s stakeholders. Focus on your stakeholders not just your customers. Your staff is a stakeholder that is often neglected.

Good communications with all people with a legitimate interest in your business helps to strengthen your reputation and reduce risks of conflict, for instance with neighbours, regulatory bodies, even competitors.

That said stakeholder research is recommended and invaluable; but customer research is necessary. To understand your customers you have to ask them or track them. We can provide simple surveys for you designed for simple analyses and clear conclusions.

Many organisations make the wrong assumptions about their customers’ motivations (their needs and wants). Some focus on the wrong segment of their customer-base and miss the potential for market growth. Others don’t understand what their customers really want.

The channels

The CHANNELS you use to communicate are determined by what you need to say and to whom you need to say it.
Placement of advertising and promotions and use of direct marketing are the most costly of decisions. Before you decide undertake some research. Local newspapers for instance have different readerships with different demographics. Radio can be a viable alternative.

Public relations uses a soft-sell approach in similar channels to the hard-sell of advertising. It can be more persuasive because it has media legitimacy but is less certain of getting picked up. A well placed media story can be very beneficial.

The effect

The obvious EFFECT of your communications should be getting purchases (and ultimately engagement with your customers). How ready are your customers to buy? The readiness levels move along from:

  • Awareness
  • Knowledge
  • Liking
  • Preferring
  • Convinced
  • Purchase

You need to know your customers readiness levels and set your communications tactics to appropriately respond.

Measuring the effect

Monitoring success can be the hardest of all aspects of a communications plan. It is, however, necessary to determine where your budget is best spent. How do you do it?

Benchmarking is important in putting together the communications marketing plan. What level of readiness are your customers at? You need to measure where on the readiness level they are and then where they have moved to. Methods include customer surveys, focus groups, media monitoring etc.