If there is one thing that everyone involved in communications and PR abhors, it’s the shout to nowhere. Nothing frustrates a budget holder more than finding out their communications team has spent time and money and delivered nothing to show for it.
No new leads. No new opportunities. No improved access to customers. No crowd of fans clamouring at the door, pulled by your reputation and keen to engage. It’s very meh!
Similarly, it is dispiriting for the communications team itself to bring to life a brilliant campaign, packed with their own kind of energy, only to discover the business opportunities uncovered, either can’t – or won’t – be fulfilled because the area isn’t a commercial focus.
So, how can a communications leader make sure their efforts are synchronised with the commercial team? How can they ensure that they support the goals of the business?
As a communications professional, our goal in speaking with the commercial team should be to fill-in the blanks on a formula that looks something like this:
- get <audience definition> to <behaviour>, so that <business goal>,
this statement will feed into your communications strategy, which you can formulate in a similar manner, and would look something like this:
- get <audience definition> to understand <company message> through <campaign strategy>.
Each of the blanks will be defined by the discussion you have with your commercial team.
And it’s likely the commercial team will already have their strategy mapped out in terms that look something like the formula above. After all, it’s just another way of saying, what do we sell, who do we sell it to, and where do we want these sales to take the business.
To make the jump from the commercial strategy to the communications strategy you will need to understand a few things, so you can look your CFO in the eye when, at the end of the year, she asks what did you do for the business? Getting confirmation from your commercial team on the following three questions will help you execute your strategy effectively:
- Is <audience definition> the audience that really matters to the business?
- Will understanding <company message> help to change their behaviour?
- And most importantly: Will the cost of <campaign strategy> influence <behaviour> sufficiently to justify its costs relative to the <business goal>?
Take these three questions to your commercial team, talk through them as you set out how you want to evolve an effective communications strategy, and explain that your goal in executing the strategy is to make life easier for your business development and sales teams.
Let’s be clear – these won’t be the end of your questions – and nor should they be.
Rather, they are the 3 key questions you are looking to answer definitively (with a yes or no) to give you and your commercial partners confidence in the effectiveness of your communications programme.
To get the desired answers you are going to need to understand what drives your commercial teams.
Your questions will beget more questions, and hopefully, even if you don’t find answers for every subsequent question, you will discover enough to confidently answer the three questions outlined above.
It’s worthwhile using the key driver of any business to frame the work you do with the commercial team, this is encapsulated in one simple question; where is the money?
Find out from them, which teams or products bring in the most revenue, which are most profitable, which part of the market has the most money to spend. There are more questions and some should be specific to your business.
To build the most effective campaign for your business, your questions will necessarily be tailored to the company and the products and services it offers. But after many years working with clients in industry, we have seen plenty of questions that transfer across business types, and have helped us develop strong campaigns for our clients.
This approach is a worthwhile investment of your time that will allow you to confidently point to evidence of your value to the business at the end of the year.
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If this has gotten you thinking – you have some questions – or you want to talk to us about what happens next, then please drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.Get in touch