The question of how you are heard is more pertinent today for business than it has ever been. CommTogether is no different in that regard, operating as a voice amongst such a sea of noise both online and offline.
There is no magic answer as to how to be heard, but here are five simple tips which can start you down the path of both assessing where you are at and where you can go:
1. Identify your stakeholders. An annual review of your stakeholders is critical, because business and the world is changing so fast, you need to take stock. Stakeholders traditionally includes, owners / board of management, management teams, staff, clients, funders (usually government is included as a separate group) and suppliers. Identifying who these groups are and the role they play in your business which then helps you assess the role they should play going forward.
2. How do you engage. If you are a service provider, there is a first and obvious answer to this question, because it is directly through your work that you engage with at least one of your stakeholders, your clients. However they are not the only stakeholder and indeed it is probably not the only way you engage with them. You need to determine what all the types of communication you have and assess them to see if they are consistent and on message. You also have to decide if they are the only forms of communication you should be concentrating on or are there more types that you should explore.
3. Develop a strategy. An effective strategy will be one that engages your audience and therefore reaches them in their desired forms of communication. Assess what your audience and stakeholders want from you and marry that up with your vision for what you want to achieve, You need to plot a path that is measurable with Key Performance Indicators that will ultimately deliver your vision.
4. Listen. This may seem obvious, but far too often people do not listen to their audience, particularly their existing stakeholders. You have to identify ways to listen and ensure that data is captured. Listening also means identifying and understanding then monitoring your competitors regularly to see where there are opportunities to grow your market or where your market share may be at risk.
5 Respond. Engage in a conversation with your stakeholders using the platforms relevant to them (phone, face to face, newsletter, letter, brochure, social media etc). Respond to them, whether they have praise, complaints, suggestions or recommendations. The measure of your success will be in your ability to respond. Communication is a two-way process. When you have an open dialogue with your audience, you know what they want and expect and can continue to marry this with your vision.