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How to communicate effectively with your stakeholders

Learn how to properly communicate with all of your stakeholders en mass and individually
Hannah Stacey

/ Last updated on 17th October 2017

Let’s face it – marketing can seem like a bit of a minefield when you’re a busy entrepreneur. When you’re occupied with new business meetings, dealing with suppliers and the other hundred and one things on your to-do list, embarking on a marketing campaign can seem like opening Pandora’s Box. But getting your offering in front of the right people is integral to its success, and a cleverly-crafted marketing campaign can help you achieve just that. Strapped for time? Here’s a cheat sheet to creating a good marketing strategy.

Related: Maximising different types of communication

What are your marketing aims?

Before you start thinking about who you want to get in front of, you must seriously consider what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts. This can be more than one thing, but remember to be reasonable with your expectations. For example, you might be:

Trying to get your product or service in front of potential customers

  • Trying to get your product or service in front of potential customers
  • Wanting to generate interest in your business amongst potential investors
  • Get potential business partners involved

Figure out who you need to get in front of to fulfil your aims

The scattergun approach to writing a press release, paying a questionable newswire service to post it on a few websites that nobody reads, and then sitting back and hoping for the best will not cut the mustard if you’re serious about getting in front of the right people.

If you’ve created a sound business plan, you’ll know who your various stakeholders are. Let’s use an example. I’ve just set up a great new education tech company that teaches Swedish to secondary school children using a revolutionary method (over-dubbed One Direction songs) outside of class. I’m also looking for more investment. I’ve got loads of different stakeholders, and the message that I want to relay to each of them is slightly different. These stakeholders could be:

Secondary school pupils themselves

The parents of secondary school pupils

Decision-makers in schools

Potential investors

Once you’ve come up with an exhaustive list of stakeholders, make sure you’ve recorded them in a spreadsheet to keep track of your activity.

Think about what you want to say and what they want to hear

If you get into the mindset of your potential stakeholders and what drives them, you’ll be able to craft messages that appeal to them more. Create personas by asking yourself the following questions:

What demographics do they fall into? How old are they? Where do they live? What is their income?

What is their part in the buying process?

What does a day in their life look like?

What are their pain points? What issues in their job or day-to-day life bother them?

How can your product/service help them address these problems?

Let’s take the parents of our secondary school pupils in my example. They’re likely to be between the ages of 35 and 50 and will be the ones buying the product for their beloved children. They probably don’t speak Swedish personally but are keen to see their child progress in their Swedish lessons at school, however, they are having problems convincing their troublesome teenager to do their homework (because they would rather swoon over Harry Styles on Twitter).

How does my product help address their pain points? It makes their life easier and helps them feel like good parents when their kids ace all of their Swedish exams at school. In this case, my marketing message might be: “My product makes learning fun, so your kids succeed without you having to moan at them.”

Track down where they hang out

You may have your marketing messages sorted, but if they’re not reaching the ears of your target audience, you’ve wasted your time. It’s important to think carefully about the types of places that each of your stakeholder groups goes to for information. Here are some of the biggies and how you might use them in your marketing efforts:

National newspapers and their websites – creating newsworthy PR stories and targeting them at relevant journalists in the national press.

Trade press – tracking down any trade press and placing articles (interviews or opinion pieces, for example) in them.

TV and Radio – again, using PR to generate newsworthy angles that get covered in the broadcast press (easier said than done, though!)

Social media – using marketing techniques like social media advertising (on Facebook or LinkedIn, for example) to target your chosen demographic. Many social networks have advanced targeting options for advertisers so you can get the message across.

Google – optimising your website for certain search terms to rank higher.

Blogs – contacting bloggers and trying to persuade them to write about your product or service.

So if I’m trying to get in front of parents, the best course of actions is probably a PR campaign that gets attention from the national and broadcast press (unless they’re incredibly keen, parents are unlikely to reach any education trade press.) I would also make sure that I had ads on social networks targeting my chosen demographic with my key messages, and also make sure that my website was keyword optimised so that for any parent searching ‘how to get my child to do their Swedish homework’, my product would be the first thing that pops up in Google. This process should be repeated for each of my target stakeholders. It may seem like a complex process, but refining your messaging to the key needs of stakeholders means that your precious time is not wasted in the long run.

Related: Stealth startup or loud startup?

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