You’ve decided it’s time to build (or rebuild) a website. Or maybe you’re thinking of doing an email campaign, a brochure or a one-pager to hand out to prospects. Maybe you’re thinking of building a Facebook or Twitter presence. Sounds great. But before putting pen to paper (or pixel), there’s one thing you must do first: craft a communication strategy.

Your communication strategy will identify with whom you want to communicate (your target audiences), what you want them to know or do, and what you hope to accomplish.

Who’s it for?

First, identify your target audiences. Who are they? Do they know you already, or are you reaching out to people who haven’t heard of you yet?

At this stage, it’s fine to think in terms of primary, secondary and even tertiary audiences. You’re not likely to engage the whole universe of potential customers all at once, so it’s useful to know whom to target first.

Don’t assume you already know everything you should about your audiences. Chances are, you’re not the audience. Or maybe you represent just one segment. Talk with people, do research, and learn everything you can. The more you learn, the better your communication strategy will be.

What do you want to accomplish?

Now that you’ve identified your audiences and learned about them, think about what you want them to do. If “buy stuff” is your answer, that’s okay. But it’s not enough. Think about engagement. What will make them want to choose your product or service? What will make them happy they did? And what information will help them decide?

Look at pain points, too. What gets in your audiences’ way? What problem will your product or service solve for them? How could you make it easier to do business with you as opposed to the competition? Again, research will help you answer these questions.

What’s next?

After all that up-front work, you should have a pretty solid communication strategy. It will serve as your roadmap for selecting and developing communication tactics to reach, engage and satisfy the people you’ve identified.

You’ll still need to decide which tactics (website, app, email, social media, print, etc.) will be most effective. And of course, you’ll need to prioritize and create the communications you chose.

Ready to learn more about communication strategy and tactics? Ask Andy.