How to Streamline Communications

Remember the 1990’s?  You know – when the height of technology meant you could download the new Bare Naked Ladies album from Napster with your cool, new dial-up internet connection… as long nothing else was open and the stars were perfectly aligned?

Fortunately, computers can handle a lot more data nowadays, but us humans haven’t evolved quite so quickly.  My rough estimate is that the average person’s capability to take in messages is about that of an old school floppy disk.

It’s our nature – we’re easily overwhelmed with data and messages.

That’s why it’s so important to keep your messaging consistent.

What’s the biggest road block to consistency in corporate communications?

From my observation, many companies and organizations have the most trouble with too many voices shouting too many different things.  Streamlining communications begins with streamlining communicators.

I work on the franchise team here at 919 Marketing, so I see this on a daily basis.

Each franchisee, much like departments within a large organizations, have their own opinions and want their voice to be heard.  Sometimes they create their websites, brochures and even ads.  They all think that their messages and priorities are the most important ones to get out.

While it’s often difficult and ill-received to limit the autonomy of those individuals in their communications efforts, you enter dangerous waters giving them all control.  Take it from someone who has experienced the aftermath of communications autonomy.

Before I joined 919 Marketing, I worked with a school system that must-not-be-named (yes, Harry Potter fans – that reference was for you).  The system was just beginning to implement a centralized communications plan when I arrived, and had just completed a communications investigation that found 14 different pamphlets and countless handouts developed by at least five departments, none of which shared a single consistent element of design or messaging.  It was total chaos, and it affected the operations of the entire system.

Don’t let communication chaos happen to you!

When you come up with your communications plan, include a set of communications guidelines that encompasses rules about who, within your organization, is allowed to publish information.

Who can distribute information?

Depending on the size and type of your organization, you may be able to limit your communicators to one department or team.  That would be ideal.  But, for many companies, there is good reason for other parties to have the authority produce their own content.  If that’s the case, you need to implement a system of checks and balances to make sure your message and brand aren’t getting muddied.

One possibility is to have a person in each department who is required to consult with the communications team throughout the process of creating published materials. Another is to require that all materials be approved by your communications team before being distributed.

Find something that works for your company.  Make sure the process you come up with is streamlined, reasonably easy to implement and results in consistent brand management across the board.

Our CEO, David Chapman, always reminds the us and our clients that we need “one version of the truth” replicated across all channels.  I think he says it best.  Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your message and confusing your audience.

Have any additional ideas about streamlining communicators or any fun horror stories?  I’d love to hear them!  Post ‘em in the comments.

The content on your website plays a vital role (web pages and blog posts) in driving search engine success. To develop the right content, you need to know what topics are driving prospects to your website, what topics are actually being consumed on your website, and what topics convert a visitor into a lead. You need to utilize a marketing attribution data analytics platform to do so.

Once you have identified the right content strategy, set KPI’s for ranking in the top 3 organic search positions on Google around the topics that convert into customers.

3. The New Way To Set PR Metrics:

There are standard PR metrics that should be used as part of the overall evaluation process, including third-party (e.g., Cision) reporting of media impressions and associated media values of the coverage. However, in our view, there are more effective and tangible ways to develop PR strategies and measure PR success using marketing technology and what is commonly referred to a “digital PR’.

Through our 919 Insights platform, we identify the top 28 topics that your best prospects are searching for online as they seek out advice and make purchase decisions.

We then create a PR plan that integrates those topics into our media pitches. Additionally, the use of digital PR is increasingly more effective than just driving traditional media coverage. Going back to Domain Authority, gaining a backlink from a high DA media outlet to your website can provide a big boost to your score.

PR KPIs to consider include the standard media impressions / media values from a trusted 3rd party, the number of PR mentions around your top 28 topics, and the number of backlinks from high-value websites.

4. Organic Social Media:

Again, if you know what topics are most important to your desired audiences, it takes the guesswork out of social media content.  The standard KPIs involve increasing your audience reach, generating engagement and conversions. Again, numeric KPIs need to be used (Increase audience reach from 700 – 1350). You can also include harder to measure KPIs like leads, cost per lead and revenue attributed to organic social media.

5. Paid Social Media

The most effective approach to developing effective paid social media campaigns is to have the data you need to laser focus your messaging on the ad topics that convert. Social media advertising/boosted posts should be measured on the KPIs you need to meet to drive sales goals.

You need to set monthly and yearly KPIs based on your sales funnel — audience reach, % visiting of landing page visits, % of conversion from landing page visits to prospects, % of deals closed from paid social media ads, etc.)

6. Digital Advertising:

From a KPI perspective there isn’t a lot of difference between paid social and paid digital advertising other than that there are more platforms to deploy and measure – Google AdWords, native advertising, retargeting, etc.

Again, if you have identified and validated the topics that resonate based on search behavior you are already a step ahead of the competition. You should set clear, numerical KPIs for each digital channel utilized from reach, conversions and the revenue generated from each.

7. Email Marketing:

Why is Email marketing the most underdeveloped tool in the franchise marketing toolbox? We suspect it’s because its time consuming, difficult to arrive at an approved content calendar and is typically evaluated using soft metrics.

The email marketing KPIs we utilize include delivery rate, unsubscribes, open rate, conversion rate, referral/shares, landing page visits’ lead conversions and revenue attributed to email.

I guess you’ve noticed that we couldn’t help ourselves – there are a lot more than 7 KPIs listed in this article! However, when it comes to program focus and execution, we always revert back to the sage advice of a former Nabisco sales executive who directed us to always take the “fewer, bigger better” approach.

Reach out if you are looking for a fresh approach to your marketing programs and setting the right combination of KPIs that matter most to your franchise.

Every successful relationship starts with a conversation.

Start exploring a new approach to your Franchise Development Marketing efforts today.