3 Lessons Learned from a Successful Change Communications Strategy

If you’re a marketing professional, by now you know that you’ll always be charged with the same basic concept: Get X group of people to do Y.

Whether the Y is to buy a product, complete a task or endorse a service, there are many factors to consider.

While working in corporate communications, I collaborated with people from different backgrounds. Together, we drilled down to determine what would motivate our audience, in this case, employees and their partners to change their health-related habits. The end goal was to improve the health indicators — cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. — of those people. And we did it.

Here’s what I learned in the process:

1. Set a Goal

How can you ask for change if you don’t know what you’re asking for? As the famous saying goes, be strict about your goals but flexible about how you get there.

I now consult with businesses in a variety of industries, and in doing so I’ve come across a common theme: There’s often no set goal for communications.

Specific, measurable goals help guide any communications strategy along the right path. If you don’t know why you’re sending an email to your employees, contacts or mailing list, then reconsider sending it.

Examples of good communications goals include:

· Number of people who attend your webinar

· Number of people complete a program

· Number of people who complete a survey

2. Don’t Set it and Forget It

What gets measured gets managed. With today’s digital tools there are plenty of tools to help you measure the effectiveness of your communications.

For digital communications, consider syncing Google Analytics to your website. For email communications, consider A/B testing, also known as split testing. With this, you’ll send two versions of an email and you’ll be able to gather data that gives you insights into what your audience responds to. Then, consolidate all your data to identify trends and what works — and what doesn’t work — for your audience.

Depending on the campaign or goals, track measurements regularly, weekly or monthly. By measuring your goals on a consistent basis, you can adjust your approach as you go along. That way, you can learn from experience and send increasingly effective communications to achieve your goals.

3. Meet Your Audience Where It Is

This sounds simple. Sometimes, however, we all fall victim to wanting to implement the latest, greatest and coolest tactic. A successful change communication strategy considers where the intended target congregates, whether it’s online or in real life.

Think of it this way: if you want a group of people to listen to what you say and you know they’ll all be at the mall at 7 p.m., would you show up at the movie theater at that time? No, because they wouldn’t hear you. Literally.

Some tips for meeting your audience where it is:

· Take a look back. What tactics have been particularly effective or ineffective before?

· Look at the data. Communications are both an art and a science. You could write a riveting blog post, but if you send it out at midnight, will your audience ever see it? Maybe, maybe not. Collecting a variety of data points — from the day and time a communication is deployed to the segment of the audience it was deployed to — can reveal the best opportunities for you to effectively influence change through communications.

· Think outside the email. There is definitely a time and place for using emails in a communication strategy. For a successful communications strategy, other channels — websites, social media, print collateral — may find the audience when they’re away from the go-go-go of their inbox, which, in turn, could result in the desired action or change.

Have you learned any lessons in your experience as a communicator? Feel free to share in the comments. You can also come to a discussion I’ll be part of in October at the International Association of Business Communicators Conference. Check out iabcheritageconference.com for more information.