It is just about that time of year again. The time when we sit down with clients to plan their Asia communication strategy for the year ahead and start new conversations with financial and professional services firms, real estate investors and corporations looking to 'launch' their brands in Asia.
The planning process has always been one of the more exciting and rewarding elements of brand and communication consulting. It is an opportunity to really work with stakeholders within the business – senior management, product specialists, operations, marketers – and understand their Asia business priorities in greater depth. It is an opportunity to ask very simple questions that will often elicit unique and usable information. Information that allows us to help companies 'paint their brand story.'
Young communication executives often ask me for guidance on how to approach the communication planning process. For me, there are three simple steps that you must follow in order to build a tailored, effective and relevant communication plan for your client or business.
Never start a plan without researching and seeking to understand the context in which you are developing a company's brand. As a start, seek to understand the competitive landscape in Asia, regulatory environment and how it differs across markets like China and Singapore, business environment and consumer sentiment. Summarise this information in a simple SWOT analysis – it is an old framework, yet still very helpful.
Ask yourself how well you know your client
You uncover what is unique about your client or company. Arrange a meeting with one or more stakeholders from the company – over coffee or in the conference room – to ask about their business. If you are unsure about where to start, why not revisit the famous 4Ps of marketing? What product are they selling, at which price, how do they want to promote it and to whom, and in which places in Asia.
Plan your content and methods of distribution
You now have information about the landscape in which your client is operating, along with deeper insight into their strategic focus and value proposition for the year ahead. Now, it is up to you to develop the communication strategy that delivers on these priorities. My advice here is simple. Start with content.
Work with your clients to look at fresh ways to use their corporate content. Most companies produce a wealth of content yet it is often not maximised and used across a range of communication channels. Develop ideas to localise the content for target markets like Japan or Hong Kong and then leverage this content to reach the stakeholders that matter. If the client does not have the right, localised content to support business priorities – then help them create it.
Next you can look at the communication platforms. Consumers of your clients' products – be they asset owners, retail investors or CFOs – are making decisions based on information sourced from a multitude of platforms. This includes traditional media such as the Financial Times and The Edge in Singapore, high quality conferences and roundtables and unique thought leadership delivered over podcasts, webinars, video and social media. Understand how these platforms are used by the customer segment your company is targeting and then feed regular, impactful, value-add content into these channels.
This three-step approach to communication planning is a good place to start for young communication executives in Asia. If you know your market, client and communication channels, you are already in a position to play a valuable role in helping your client or company sharpen their brand and communicate thoughtfully with their customers.