Kids get the most out of school when their parents know their instructors and have a working understanding of the curriculum and education goals. As an education service provider (ESP), you’ll offer a better product if you build relationships with Arizona parents. Good relationships are built on consistent communication, and it’s no different for business relationships in the education industry.
Your communication strategy grows out of your business plan and should serve the larger plan of your education service provider business.
Where to start? Your communication strategy grows out of your business plan and should serve the larger plan of your education service provider business. You can start on your communication strategy once you have a firm understanding of your vision and mission statements, customers and market, services, and staff and capacity to dedicate towards executing your communications.
A communication plan isn’t just a great idea for providing vision and onboarding new employees, it’s the groundwork for your communication operations detailing the day-to-day production of your business.
Here’s what you should include in your communication strategy:
1. A description and example of your organization’s tone.
A well-crafted vision and mission statement is often the first example of a business’s tone of voice. All the effort you put into fussing over the details of these statements will pay off while you’re encapsulating the tone of your business. In one paragraph describe how you want your business’s communications to sound like.
Your tone should have two things in mind: 1) your business’s identity — often at this point reflecting the tone of the owner or chief executive —, and 2) what your audience(s) will respond to. Encapsulating both of these elements can feel daunting, but know this: your organization’s tone will and should evolve over time, putting down your best guess on paper doesn’t mean it won’t change as you test your communications and get feedback from customers.
2. A description of your audience(s).
When you were developing your business plan, you should have conducted market research and captured your ideal customer base. Now is the time to put that understanding into action. In a paragraph or two, record your assessment of your audience(s) — how they prefer to receive information; what their key desires and expectations are; what amount of knowledge about key products, services, and government education projects; and what services you’d expect both your average and exceptional customer to use and why they’d be interested in it.
3. A description of your services.
As an ESP, your services are the cornerstone of your business. How you market your service and use communication to deliver your services to customers should be cohesive.
Spend some time writing one to two paragraphs per service describing each service. This copy could be used later for a website, a marketing email, on social media, and how you talk to customers about your services.
4. A detailed plan for your normal content cycle.
Once you have the above three items buttoned up, you’re ready to develop the tactics you’ll use to bring them all together to foster relationships with your customers, direct them to your services, and generate new business.
There are dozens of avenues to reach the audiences you want, do some research into the social media platforms you may want your brand on and see if they’re attracting the right audience for your business. Study what avenues similar businesses typically use to communicate and research each for yourself remembering the resources you’ll have available to execute your marketing and communications. Most businesses will want a website that they use to direct advertising to and offer to customers that want to better understand your business.
Your detailed communication plan should include:
- A list of each communication avenue your business will need to develop — list out if you’re going to use social media, website, email, text, mailers, and whatever other creative avenues you can dream up.
- A list of action items your communications need to elicit from customers. For instance, as an ESP you’ll likely want to direct customers to a payment, event, or information form on your website at some point. Have the URLs you want customers to click on and some example copy that would drive them to take the action item for each concrete action. Common action items include the ones above, but can also include asking customers to sign up for a newsletter, to follow your business on social media, to share your content, or to offer feedback. For the most part, you’ll want all of your communications to have an action item or two connected with it. Having the tedious details ironed out beforehand gives your communications clear vision and helps reduce redundant work later.
- Once you’ve assessed potential avenues for communication and determined what ends your communication will serve, it’s time to assess the hours and expertise it will take to execute your plan. It’s no good to bite off more than your business can chew, especially with communication. One effective social media account and website is worth more than four social media accounts, a website, a newsletter, and a text campaign, that your business struggles to execute. So while you’re capturing the details, consider the copy hours, design hours, photography hours, project management hours, review hours, vendor offerings, and vendor prices you’ll need to get the job done right. As a note, this part of your communication strategy should evolve over time as you test what works and build relationships with your customers. Review, rethink, and reassess your resources and communication techniques, bi- or once-yearly and around changes to your services or employees.
Vendors and avenues you should consider for your ESP:
- For your website.
- For social media.
- For email — Mailchimp, MailerLite, and Constant Contact are a few of the great options ESPs can use to design beautiful emails, automate their email campaigns, track their open, clickthrough, and rejection rates, and capture contacts. Each email management software will be affordable for most ESPs, but their price can increase as your list expands or you purchase additional features.
- For text — Though we’ve been using text messages since the 90s, text as a mode of communication is on the cutting edge for many businesses. Text campaigns often outperform email campaigns — texts are often read immediately and as customers are increasingly using smart phones for the majority of their day-to-day interactions with businesses, text messaging offers the right mode of communication for many customers. We recommend you consider text messaging services like Subtext, Twilio, or Textedly as you’re considering text messaging marketing vendors.
- For customer management software — As you scale and need further, customized communication automation and interaction tracking, you should be looking to purchase dedicated customer management software. Many of the services we discussed for text and email marketing offer the basics of customer management. As you grow your business and discover, however, that you need further customization, integration across communication platforms, operational support tracking sales leads, and specialized services like chat support or automatic calendar management, consider Monday’s sales CRM, Salesforce, or HubSpot.