Business plans often contain a lot of marketing jargon, but they can also be a goldmine of ideas and inspiration, which can form the basis of your communication messages. Here’s how to dig out the gold from your small business plan.
Writing a business plan is essential before developing a communications strategy. Not only does it give your business direction and purpose, but when it eventually comes time to create your communications plan, you will often find all the messages you need hiding within your original small business plan.
Often these unique messages can be buried under business language and marketing jargon – beneath the SWOTs, plots, visions and missions – and uncovering these communication gems can be difficult. That is, unless you know where to look.
I call it the business plan pull-apart process. Here are the five key places in your business plan to go gold digging:
1. Your business description: In a business plan this is the last place many people look for their communication messages. Why? Because people tend to focus on describing what the business does rather than what it is in this description, and it ends up being several paragraphs or even pages long. When looking for communication messages, I start here, and distil the business description into a one-line slogan that fits all the other four parts of my gold-hunting expedition.
2. The vision: A business vision should set the tone for all your communications. The vision is the one, simple message that you can test all your communications against forever more. It could be “Making the world’s best coffee” or it could be “Revolutionising coffee in Australia” or perhaps “Blitzing Ballarat’s coffee scene.” Either way, you’ll come up with something that sticks about where you stand and what you should be concentrating on saying.
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3. The SWOT: Your Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities chart is dynamite. With your tone sorted, a quick analysis of what you’re doing well and where you’re vulnerable can help you create messages of ambition, hope and positioning. Add an ‘A’ to each category to ‘Activate’ the message and make a SWOTA:
Strengths: What are the Advantages?
Weaknesses: How can you Adjust these?
Opportunities: What Action can you take?
Threats: How will you Address these?
I’m not always sure where the communication gold comes from this one, but it always does. The light always goes off at some point. Try it, and see what works for you.
4. The market position: Your market research is priceless, and might enable you to say something such as: “Five out of 10 people accept a bad coffee. The other five drink ours” in your communications. Or perhaps, “By 2015 there will only be two brands of coffee that are drinkable. One will be ours. The other hasn’t been invented yet.”
5. The competitor analysis: Pitching your communications messages against the competition will have greater impact. The tag line “We try harder” is one example. Taking your message from “We make coffee” to “We make your coffee drinking a unique experience” could change your customer demographic dramatically.
So, why not take a fresh look at your small business plan with these five ideas and start digging. You might strike communication gold!
What techniques do you use to identify your communications messages?