Communicating with a Purpose

In today’s fast-paced business culture, it’s more important than ever to incorporate the best practices of communication in every marketing message you send. That message may be to customers, partners, business associates or employees. It may take the form of written words for print, digital, web or social channels. And whatever the—Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How—of your message, your foremost objective should always be communicate with a purpose.

So how does one communicate with a purpose? Let’s break it into six easy steps you can start using today. Use this as a checklist for all your marketing communication.

Have a Plan.

What do you want your message to accomplish? Do you want to inform, share an idea, sell something, explain something, or persuade? After this message is sent to your desired audience, what do you want the end result to be?” Have a vision, a goal, a purpose—and make sure that objective is maintained throughout your communication process.

Consider Your Audience.

Who are you talking to? Be sure you know who you want to reach with your communication. Then ask, “What do I know about them?” Think about their age, gender, education, and profession. Where do they live? What is their preferred method of communication—print, digital, electronic, or mobile? There are generational differences and preferences you should consider. Know who you want to communicate with, then find out their communication preferences. Don’t guess—ask!

Be Clear.

Communicate your message as directly and concisely as possible. Define that message right up-front. Give your audience enough information so they understand, but don’t include irrelevant data or unclear terminology. Avoid repetition. If your message is complicated, consider structuring it with a beginning (introduction), a middle (detail), and an end (summary). If you’re asking that a certain action be taken, make sure you define what, when, how, and why you want something. When communicating in writing, provide a resource—phone number, website, etc.—where your audience can get further information. Be clear at the start, then keep that focus throughout your message.

Make It Real.

The reader wants to know, “What does this mean to me? Why should I continue to read this?” Tell a story that supports your message—and make it relatable. Testimonials and case studies can be invaluable in getting your message across. Bring your story to life. Tell stories of REAL people, REAL situations, and REAL actions. Ultimately, you want your audience to realize, “This sounds just like me!” Not only will they relate, but they’ll learn something from the story you tell. Great content comes from writing about your customers’ challenges and providing them with solutions others can learn from.

Create Impact.

Put visuals to work. Photography. Colors. Graphics. Fonts. Infographics. Interesting layouts. And don’t forget “white space”—a void of content on a page can create great visual effect. Just make sure all these elements are of the highest quality and relevant to your message. You want the visual detail to support and payoff your message, not distract your audience from the purpose of your communication. Your message is most impactful when strong copy is supported by strong visuals.

Keep It Frequent.

If you’ve taken care to develop a strong, relatable message supported by great visuals, send your message to your audience frequently so they’ll remember you. When they’re seeking products and services you provide, you need to be top-of-mind. Determine other ways you can repeat your message. Direct mail. Your website. Print ads or advertorials. White papers. Send out a formal invitation for your open house or special event—it puts you in front of your audience again. Frequency is key!

So, now that I understand the importance of communicating with a purpose, how do I get started? Take it from the top—Have a Plan! If you simply stick to the six steps outlined above, everyone in your organization will be on the same page—more connected, informed and accountable. You’ll save time, money and maybe even a little sanity. Expect external rewards in the form of a more satisfied, engaged and appreciative audience.