by Becky Pagel, owner of Accentra

Welcome to 2018! Is this going to be your best year yet? It can be. By taking time to plan, and being intentional, you can substantially increase your success. After all, you can’t get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going.

An important part of this is your communications platform. What and how you communicate defines your business because that’s what your customers see and hear. In today’s digital world, people absorb small snippets of information and make very quick decisions, so it’s more important than ever to level up your communications to tell your story effectively, efficiently, and relentlessly.

How to level up in 2018

If you want to level up your communications this year, start by taking a 30,000-foot view of your communications. Use the Three C’s: Cover the basics, create consistency, and check your calendar, and you’ll be on your way to improved communications.

Cover the basics

What pieces do you really need to get started? While there are always exceptions, here’s a good list to work from:

  • Logo – A visual representation of your business should be in all communication pieces. If you have the money, it pays to have a professional designer create your logo (check the LBB directory for some great designers). Or, try online services like freelogoservices, fiverr or logojoy.
  • Website – To show and tell people who you are, what you do, but more importantly, how you can help them. You can create your own website easily with WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace, and others, or hire a professional.
  • Business cards – Provide necessary contact information. Always have them on hand, and professionally printed.
  • Social media accounts – Tell your story and engage with your audience on the big ones including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest.
  • Elevator pitch – The essence of what you do and why someone should care, in 30 seconds. This is useful for job interviews but also for your business! Here are seven steps for writing a powerful elevator pitch from the folks at The Balance.
  • Brochure (printed and digital versions) – The old school way to show and tell people who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. Again, a designer can really help with this, but sites like com offer great templates.
Create consistency

Consistency and continuity across all communication pieces is important. Your marketing materials must all tell the same story in their own way. Decide what look, feel and theme you want, create designs and messages accordingly, and stick with them! If someone looks at your website, and then your business card or brochure, it should be immediately apparent that they go together.

  • Colors & font – Choose a color palette and font and use them only in all communication pieces. Make note of the font name and color formulas (RBG and CYMK) you choose, so you don’t have to guess when you’re creating new pieces.
  • Style – Modern, traditional, eclectic? Do you like white space and short copy, or large photos on a black background? Overall style should carry over from piece to piece.
  • Voice – This is how your story sounds. Is it formal or casual? Funny or serious? Written from your perspective (I or we) or for the customer (you)? Often your business will dictate this.
  • Tagline – A short message that encapsulates what you do. Not every company has a tagline, but if you do have one, use it often to tell your story and create continuity.
  • Social media handles – If possible, use the same username, or handle, across all social media platforms. You’ll be easier to find on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even Snapchat with a consistent handle.
Consult your calendar

When was the last time you communicated with your audience? If it wasn’t within the past week, you’d better get back into the ring. People are bombarded with so many messages every day. If you’re not communicating with your audience, someone else is.

  • Create a communications plan – Invest the time to plan how you’ll use your communication pieces. Planning three to six months out will force you to make decisions and take action while working toward a strong goal.
  • Recognize holidays – Holidays provide great theme ideas for engaging with your audience. Use them for a reason to communicate with your customers through social media, blog posts, web banners, emails and more.
  • Schedule social media posts – Social media can be hard to keep up with. Try a program like Hootsuite to prewrite and schedule posts on the major social media channels and work ahead a few months.
  • Make a to-do list – Use your calendar or a program like Todoist, or Wunderlist to help you stay on track. Or maybe just a checklist on a steno pad. Find something that works for you and use it to stay organized.
Get going!

Is there a lot to do? Of course! If you want to level up your communications in 2018, just follow the three C’s to cover the basics, create consistency and consult your calendar, and you’ll be on your way to your best year yet. Best wishes for an amazing 2018!

Photo by Mia Baker on Unsplash.

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