by Michael Bonts
Northeast Florida Builders Association
Before man walked on the moon, there was a plan. Before you build a house, launch a product, go on a trip or provide a new service, very likely, there’s a plan.
This is also true for building your brand, awareness and image in the marketplace, through strategic communications including advertising and public relations. The real work comes in defining your messages and then reaching the appropriate and most responsive audience.
For builders and developers, having an in-depth strategic communications roadmap can provide structure to successfully convey your vision to target audiences and generate publicity that will help establish and maintain your brand, enhance revenues and community stature.
That’s what makes public relations, advertising and marketing communications so important in positioning. Because so many groups collectively hold your brand, managing those relationships requires the wise deployment of the tools of several disciplines.
Through research, focus groups and careful assessment you can design and implement a long-term communications plan that features key messages, media campaigns and action-oriented timelines. Integrate these plans with print, broadcast and new media – the Internet.
Your strategic communications plan contains many steps including:
• Establishing communication goals
• Crafting the message.
• Identifying target audiences (consumers, employees, government).
• Identifying media vehicles and opportunities.
• Use of tools from press releases, press conferences, Internet sites, e-mail lists, opinion pieces for editorial pages, staged media events and more.
• Developing a press kit.
• Tracking media coverage and evaluating the effectiveness of planning.
If you hire someone to build your brand, be prepared to share information. They will need a thorough understanding of the your business.
From your goals and objectives a comprehensive communications strategy specializing in message development, national and local media relations, advertising, special events, community relations, promotions, PR and marketing communications is created.
From television producers to business reporters and online editors, a strong working relationship must be maintained with key members of the media throughout the market to effectively place your story.
Successful branding happens only with repetition and consistency. The proper messages must be repeated again and again and again at every occasion and in every form of communication.
It is a totally wasted opportunity to talk about your product, your services or your company without finding a way to state and dramatize your brand position. Every sales presentation, every brochure, every ad, every press release should reference and romance the brand statement.
Your brand requires strategic reality and relevance, creative innovation and differentiation in its expression, and a commitment from senior management to continuous promotion and consistency.
It should be a guide for customers to make a conscious decision to buy your product, have you build their dream home or use your service with unwavering confidence in their choice.
Remember, too, that your brand should not only sum up your present, it should also provide a template for your future. Small business owners especially need to find ways to differentiate themselves and appeal to their target audience in new ways, and that means building a brand.
— Michael Bonts is communications director for the Northeast
Florida Builders Association.
You can contact him at 725-4355
or [email protected].