Chad Hetherington

Marketing communications planning frameworks help marketers organize, develop and distribute key information to stakeholders and their target audience. Without them, people who should be informed remain unwillingly ignorant, which can damage ROI and weaken relationships.

Here, we’re talking all about marketing communications planning frameworks, including what they are, how to build one and the power of using technology to formulate the perfect framework.

What is a Marketing Communication Planning Framework?

A marketing communications plan framework is akin to a roadmap that guides a company’s efforts to promote its products or services to its target audience.

Typically, these frameworks outline the strategies and tactics that your stakeholders require to devise and execute a successful marketing program. Depending on how you prefer to run the show, these schemas can take many different shapes and forms — meaning there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all communication plan template.

That said, there are certainly some must-haves that any solid communications plan should include to maximize its effectiveness, such as:

  • An analysis of the current situation.
  • Key objectives and SMART goals.
  • The intended target audience.
  • Key messages.
  • Communication strategy.
  • Communications channels.
  • Budget.
  • Timeline.

But, more on these a bit later.

For now, let’s explore some of the many benefits afforded by having a robust and thorough marketing comms plan in place.

The Benefits of a Thorough Marketing Communications Plan

Any strategy in marketing produces benefits, but a communication strategy, in particular, helps bring alignment to your teams in ways few other plans can.

Equipped with one of these puppies (the communications plan, that is), don’t be surprised if the stars begin to align and manifest fruitfulness in the following ways:

Strategic Direction

Having a framework to work from helps provide clear and strategic direction for your marketing team. It’s essentially a single-source-of-truth document where team members can get the scoop on what’s happening, what’s been done and tasks they still need to complete. They ensure that everyone involved in the campaign is aligned with your overall business goals and objectives.

Resource Allocation

Lying everything out in front of you makes it much easier to allocate resources appropriately. Having a framework allows you to see which marketing channels and tactics should take priority based on your goals and target audience.

Measurable Marketing Objectives

One thing in particular we’ll talk about in the ‘building a framework’ section is that these frameworks are a great place to establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based objectives (SMART goals, for short). Including these as part of the framework itself makes referring back to and measuring progress much less of a hassle.

Improved ROI

Disseminating all of the juicy communications information into a robust framework can help improve your return on investment (ROI) from the associated campaign — and future campaigns — in several ways:

  • Makes it easier to track results to learn what worked and what didn’t.
  • Provides a holistic view of the strategy, enabling marketers to make any necessary adjustments quickly.
  • Provides a record to reference for future campaigns, which can help you manage your budget better in the future.

Customer Understanding and Engagement

A well-planned marketing communications strategy encourages you to dig deeper into your target audience and develop a more comprehensive understanding of them through detailed audience analysis. In turn, this leads to more targeted and relevant communications and can increase the likelihood of your campaign engaging and resonating with your audience. When done correctly, it all helps build stronger brand-audience connections.

Enhanced Team Collaboration

Among the main draws of marketing communications planning frameworks is enhanced team collaboration. These handy foundations for your next campaign facilitate collaboration among different departments, helping to ensure everyone is on the same page and working toward common objectives.

Increased Efficiency

Organization is key to achieving greater efficiency in pretty much any industry imaginable. When everything is where it should be, it’s easy to reference, retrieve and recall as necessary to stay on track. Communication frameworks in marketing help streamline workflows and processes by reducing redundancies and disparate sources of information.

Brand Building

Last (but not really — just last on this list), is brand building or the ability to strengthen your brand image more effectively. Communications plans help businesses reinforce their brand image and identity through a framework designed to enable consistent messaging and creative elements throughout marketing campaigns.

Building a Strong Marketing Communication Planning Framework

An unwavering marketing communications plan often includes the following bits of information, so be sure to do your due diligence and be as thorough as possible. This will only help you and your team when it comes time to deploy the strategy.

Analyze the Current Situation

To make meaningful progress, you have to first develop a robust understanding of where you’re currently at. That way, it not only becomes much easier to track progress as the campaign unfolds but also lets you set realistic expectations based on the current state of your business and its surroundings.

A  SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) can come in handy here. Create a chart and fill in each section with appropriate details. Ask these questions (or others like them) for each, respectively:

  • What are you good at?
  • What needs work?
  • What is happening right now that we could take advantage of?
  • What are our competitors up to?

Highlight Key Objectives and SMART Goals

Including specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based objectives helps hold your team accountable. Plus, getting goals that adhere to the SMART framework is much easier to achieve than ambiguous objectives.

For example, if you want a particular campaign to really take off on social media, what do you hope to achieve in doing that? Be specific. Maybe it’s to get more engagement or increase brand awareness, but don’t just leave it at “post on social media.”

Identify and Research the Intended Target Audience

As a brand, you may have identified multiple target audiences across your breadth of products or services. However, it’s important to stick to one for each campaign; that way, you can better tailor the content and communications to that audience’s particular preference rather than trying to talk to too many people at once.

Start by creating a buyer persona that highlights their demographic, preferences and behaviors.

Include Key Messages

Key messaging is the bread and butter (and a non-negotiable) of any marketing campaign. It’s the message (or messages) that you want to effectively communicate to your audience, full stop.

When you’re working on this section of your plan, identify any core messages that you want to communicate. Make sure they align with your brand and resonate with your target audience.

Outline Communication Strategies and Channels

One of the most important parts of a marketing communications plan is outlining the ideal strategies and channels you’ll use to distribute your campaign to your tagged audience. Channels could include anything from social media and digital marketing to public relations and email — and more.

Consider This Template

Who has time to create a template when there’s already so much on your plate? Well, we’ve gone ahead and prepared a template for you. Armed with all the context above, Brafton’s strategic marketing plan template will walk you through everything from your mission statement to the ideal communications channel for the delivery of your next campaign. It’s a completely fillable PDF, so all you have to do is download it and input your information — that’s it!

The Role of Technology in Formulating Marketing Frameworks

Even when you and your team have been fully briefed on a marketing communications plan, there’s a lot of information to keep track of. Having the template is an excellent way to organize all of the important details in a single source of truth for your entire marketing team, but what about the day-to-day communications as you begin to roll out the strategy?

This is where technology, more specifically, a content marketing platform, comes into play.

Features abound in the perfect platform that allows you to set goals, create content strategies and calendars, and chat with colleagues to help streamline the communications planning process in numerous ways.

Spreadsheets and calendars had their time — and they still have their place. But, content marketing has come a long way, and having the right technology to create top-notch campaigns is a must. It’s time to level up.