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Definition: Communications Planning
Communication planning embodies every act done to reach the target audience. Communication planning is deciding on how to make your brand message reach the target audience using some communication channel like direct mail, advertising, promotional events, PR etc.
The main elements of designing a communication involve deciding the target audience, the message and the communication channel. The timing also plays an important role. Brand message communication generally involves spreading the brand message through more than one channels like print media, social media, TV, radio etc. The communication plan needs to keep evolving with the changing needs of the audience and the changes in environment in general.
A communication plan includes the following six basic elements of communication:
1. Who – decide the target audience for your message
2. What – decide the key points of the message
3. When – decide the timing and the time frame of the message i.e. the best time to deliver the message and till when
4. Why – decide what you want to achieve by communicating the message, what is the desired outcome
5. How – decide the communication channel for the message, keeping in mind the desire for feedback
6. By whom – decide how to choose the communicator or who delivers the message
For example, suppose that your company wants to launch a new body lotion (given the approaching winter season). First you have to decide who will use this lotion and who will buy this lotion. If the lotion is a baby lotion, then the target audience would be young mothers; if the lotion is for men, the target audience may be the young, metrosexual men of tier-1 cities. Most common of all is launching a body lotion with women/girls as the target audience. This decides the ‘who’ of your communication planning. Next, decide ‘what’ the key message of the lotion will be, for example, if it is a body lotion for women, maybe it can be silky smooth, nourished skin with reason-to-believe being that the lotion has 19% milk extracts (among other nutrients).
The best time to deliver the message i.e. ‘when’ to deliver the message would be just before the winters are approaching i.e. in the month of October & November. ‘Why’ would be your brand goals – say achieving sales of 100 SKUs in the next 4 weeks following the airing of the first advertisements. ‘How’ to deliver the message or which communication channel to use again would be dependent on the characteristics of the target audience. For young girls, it is best to advertise on YouTube and Television. The last element is deciding ‘by whom’ the message will be delivered – do you want it to be celebrity, like Kareena in Ponds ad, or a model who portrays a usual individual, as in the ads of Parachute body lotion.
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