Communications Strategy: Why Don’t We Just Do it?

You could make it look like you’re doing something but not really make any difference.

Or you could develop a communications strategy so that everything you do has a purpose.

Working together to develop a Communications Strategy
Developing a Communications Strategy is a team exercise.

Time is money, especially for small businesses or not-for-profits, which is why it can be so tempting to skip the strategy step.

The pull towards action, to show you’re doing something, can be strong but the value in taking the time to work out a strategy pays you back in the long run.

What is a Communications Strategy?

There are different types of communications strategies that you can use in different situations.

A helpful way to think of it is that Communications Strategy isn’t an anchor that holds you back but a compass to show you the way.

Whether you are looking to grow your business as a whole or plan for a specific event or campaign, a communications strategy guides the way you manage stakeholders and communications activities.

A Communications Strategy helps to inform actions, including planning and tactics.

It is a written document that you can refer back to that sets out the reasons – the why – and the overall objectives – the what.

Where’s the value in having a Communications Strategy?

Spontaneity and reaction have a time and a place, but strategy builds a water-tight business case and brings focus.

A Communications Strategy gives the opportunity to judge progress, in other words:

  • Encourages proactive communication,
  • Improves efficiency,
  • Shows value for money, and,
  • Looks to the long term.

Also, in a twist of irony with a Communications Strategy you can do less communications because instead of a panicked, scattergun approach, your communications activity is considered and purposeful.

You can read my mini-rant about the value of a Communications Strategy in Ways to Invest in your Business.

Why don’t we just get on with it?


Hammer time!

The most effective organisations – big or small – work best when everyone knows what their job is and why they’re doing it.

I get it.

It’s so easy to print those leaflets because that’s what you’ve always done or put something on Facebook because…er…everything is social media these days, right?

But who was supposed to get in touch with the local press to tell them our amazing story?

By taking the time to look at the current situation, you can be clear about:

  • what you want to achieve,
  • who your audience is,
  • agree responsibilities,
  • set a budget, and,
  • evaluate.

Effective communication can help your organisation solve problems and achieve goals.

Ineffective communication is a waste of time and money, which none of us are growing much of right now.

As Tom Peters demonstrates, what gets measured, gets done.

If you don’t even have the time to think about it, get in touch.

The difference between marketing and communications

The big, burning questions: is there a difference between marketing and communications? Where does communications end and marketing begin?

Photo graph of four people in a row holding speech and thought bubbles to show communication

This is a query many a professional marketeer or communicator has grappled with and it’s certainly true that over the years, these different fields have increasingly overlapped.

In a classic GCSE essay tactic, I turned to the dictionary:

Marketing n. the action or business of promoting and selling products or services.

Okay, so that seems fairly clear…

Communication n. the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.

That makes sense to me,too.

The truth

As a small business or not-for-profit, if you want to grow your reputation and business you can’t really have one without the other.

No doubt, one of your goals as a business is to sell your product or service.

However, the success of this depends on understanding your business, your ideal audience and strategic goals.

There are some brilliant marketeers who appreciate this and think beyond the scope of selling and see the sales funnel to be more than just putting an ad in front of someone.

Just want to give a shout out to Knowlton Marketing who are awesome communicators – it doesn’t even feel like selling!

There are also some brilliant communicators who appreciate that a compelling story and great reputation won’t always convert to sales without a little nudge here and there.

Red flags

If you are working with someone who calls themselves a marketeer but doesn’t take the time to understand your business or makes assumptions about your ideal customer, this is a red flag.

In a similar vein, an experienced communicator should start with analysis and strategy because your reputation will flow from that.

If you’re working with either a professional communicator or marketeer and they get straight into the ‘doing’, you might need to adjust your expectations to suit short-term vanity metrics.

Taking your ideal audience from awareness through to sales and even advocacy is about more than selling a product.

It’s about your mission, values, credibility and reputation – this is where professional communicators come in.

Communications people are storytellers of an organisation, and their work should complement the marketing strategy.

Avoid cookie-cutter marketing and communications.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to successfully communicating and marketing a small business or not-for-profit.

That kind of approach undermines the uniqueness of your business and serves the conveyor-belt marketeers or communicators more than you.


With the right strategy, marketing and communications can enhance each other.

More importantly for you as a business owner, together they can bring clarity, efficiency and a better return on investment than if you apply them on their own.

Growing your business purely through a marketing approach can sometimes backfire.

This is especially true if you don’t have the values and reputation to back it up or your potential customer gets tired of pushy tactics.

In this situation, communications strategy offers a conscience that can enhance your marketing so that it has purpose and proof.

It feels counter-productive to slow down marketing tactics but nothing turns off a potential customer than the whiff of BS.

Reputations are built on genuine, two-way communication.

Successful sales start with awareness.

So the truth is they’re not the same but they are better together.

If you want to discuss how a Communications Strategy can enhance the way you market your business, get in touch today.

Ways to invest in your business

Maybe I’m just having a bad business day but I am done being polite – I have to call out the bullsh*t and urge you to invest in your business.

A white piggy bank

The digital and real world is awash with solutions that claim to boost your brand, fix your follower numbers, create more conversions, enhance your engagement, raise your reach (big breath) – and all for free!

Well, my friends, I’m sorry to break this to you but a lot of it is utter b*llocks.

I am all for helpful content, but I urge you to watch for the pitfalls.

How do the tips in that Instagram post fit into the values of your business? It offers the promise of reaching a wider audience but are they the people you are trying to reach.

Is it just another distraction at the fairground?

Luck and quick fixes will only get you so far whereas investing in your business sets you up for the years to come.

I have worked with clients who have wasted money on paid-for advertising without a strategy.

Yes, they saw ‘results’ – their followers and reach grew.

However, those shiny stats did not convert into new leads or clients.

When I started working with them and they began to understand where their audience was, communicate with purpose and see meaningful progress in the way of valuable connections and new leads.

Investing to survive

A stat most business-owners, like me are familiar with is that over 50% of small businesses do not survive beyond five-years.

Of course, there are lots of reasons for this – it is hard running a business!

I have found either I do it myself or I pay someone to do it.

Perhaps strategy – be it overall business strategy or the communications strategy that I specialise in – feels like an unnecessary cost.

But it is an investment that yields returns by delivering on business focussed targets.

If you don’t know where you’d like to be in five-years, how will you get there?

The sense of satisfaction when you invest in your business and the opportunity to streamline tasks that comes with a Communications Strategy is valuable in time and money.

For example, if you know your audience hangs out in Facebook communities, you don’t need to waste your time and money on other channels.

That kind of liberation is priceless!

Delayed gratification

Judging by how I feel at the time of writing, trust me when I say I understand the frustration that comes with running your own business and not seeing results as quickly as you would like.

Paying a small amount for an online course that will open up the magic of TikTok for Business might feel like you’re investing in your business but it’s only useful if it’s practical:

  • Can you realistically apply the learning to your day-to-day business demands?
  • Are your ideal audience (and/or customer) on TikTok?
  • What sort of content can you come up with?
  • How does this fit into the overall business needs and goals?

We live in an age where delayed gratification seems over-rated.

But let me remind you (and myself) that it is worth it.

The money spent on a short, sharp webinars is better invested in something that:

  • Is well-researched and tailored especially for your business,
  • looks carefully at who your current and potential audience is,
  • Sets realistic objective on communicating your brand and marketing your business,
  • Specifically contributes to your overall business goals.

The widely accepted truth

Sometimes when I look at my social media feeds, it reminds me of the story The Emperor’s New Clothes.

From one business owner to another, I’d like to remind you there is strength in admitting you’re overwhelmed, confused, even irritated by the well-meaning advice, relentless noise and expectation that comes with marketing and growing your business.

Let’s talk about the right way to invest in your business, get in touch to book a call with me.

Marketing your business: Strategy vs. Blagging it

When you’re marketing your business, looking at the bigger picture can feel overwhelming but the value is in the energy, time and money you save.

Man wearing blue headphones working at a computer

A Communications Strategy might sound dull, but it can transform the way you market your business and reach your ideal audience and potential customers.

Let’s be honest: how you run your business and grow your reputation is about more than what you post on your social media channel of choice.

If you’re blagging it, it will show – your audience and customers won’t necessarily notice but it will show in their actions and in your data.

Perhaps you’ve noticed your social media posts are very up and down, as are hits on your website.

Maybe you have lots of followers through a particular social media channel but this doesn’t translate to engagement and sales.

These things can you leave you feeling confused:

“I don’t understand what works and what doesn’t.”

Big Up Blagging It

However, there is a lot to be said for blagging it – you get a job done.

Put something on Facebook – another task to tick off the list!

But when it comes to building your reputation and growing your business it is classic ‘short-termism’.

The key to successfully marketing your business is authenticity and consistency, which you develop over time.

You can make sure you realise your business values and dreams in your content with a Communications Strategy

It will also make sure you are in the right place, talking to the right people in way that works for you.

Comparison table of Communications Strategy vs. Blagging it covered in detail in the blog
Quick Fixes

When marketing a small to medium business, the temptation to go after quick fixes is strong.

The satisfaction of seeing immediate results is appealing.

But when those results tail off you feel disappointed and frustrated.

You can resist the pull by looking at who you are:

  • What is your business about?
  • How are you unique?
  • Are you solving a problem?
  • Think about what you want to achieve.

As part of a Facebook series, Comms Bombs, I have talked about the fact there are no quick fixes.

A clear, road map will help you appreciate your progress rather than suffer the highs and lows of the latest hack.

Just do it

You already understand the extensive multitasking involved in running your own business.

Figuring out a Communications Strategy might feel like another task when you’d much rather just do it and post content when you get the chance.

Sometimes, yes – it’s great to jump on that trend or try that new thing – but then where do you go?

Ironically, a Communications Strategy can free you up to make impulsive marketing decisions because you always have something to centre you and get you back on track.

Book a Discovery Call with me to talk about how I can help you market your business for the long-term.

What do you actually do?

Communications Strategy sounds dull and boring, but it can transform the way you reach your ideal audience and potential customers.

The right strategy will save you time, stress and money.

A coffee in a blue cup with a blank notepad and pen ready to start planning a strategy.
Photo by Pixabay on

I help you reach the right people in a way that’s right for you.

My grandad used to work in the coal mines (yes, really – proud Essex girl from northern stock right here!). He could never get his head round what I do for a living. He’s always in my mind when I try to explain what I do.

When you communicate well you grow your reputation, build a supportive community and, if it’s your thing, make a good living – this is where I come in.

However, even as an experienced and qualified communications expert, I’ve had my fair share of dismissive attitudes but when the comms is right, the message lands.

Overwhelmed or confused?

You might feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of things you think you should be doing when it comes to communicating:

  • Social media
  • Website
  • Advertising
  • SEO
  • Events
  • Webinars
  • Email subscription
  • Advertising
  • Local press
  • And so the list goes on.

Trying to keep up is no way to stand out.

There’s an expert on every YouTube ‘street corner’ extolling the virtues of the latest hack that will get you a six figure business, double your followers overnight and so on.

Do what feels right for you.

Stop reacting. Start being proactive – it’s easy with a plan.

Why have a strategy?

Have you ever been on a journey without a map or an idea of where you were going? How far did you get? Did you feel lost?

I’ve worked with lots of organisation who, often without realising it, are blagging their comms. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t but hands down someone’s time, money and energy is wasted at some point.

A decent communications strategy will look at the whole business and draw out a realistic roadmap to achieving useful goals

I will listen

One of the things I do is look at your journey so far, where you want to go, who you’re trying to connect with and how we can make that happen.

I listen to you – learn about your personal brand and your story – then I marry that up with my skills and expertise to develop a Communciations Strategy that sets you on a manageable path.

You might be surprised to learn that the answer doesn’t always lie in social media!

For a small business, your passion and your brand are the key to magic content that helps you grow.

Don’t lose yourself chasing the latest ‘must-do’. Get yourself a map and choose your route.

Get in touch to start your journey:

You can find out more about how I can help you by visiting my Services page.

Read about how listening is the gold dust of good communication and your ticket to better content on the guest blog I did for CommsRebel.