As a business owner, you're focused on multiple priorities every day, from sales to customer service to quality control, to name a few. One aspect of your business you may not have realized needs attention as well is your stakeholder communications plan.
If you think that only big corporations must worry about stakeholders and their needs, you couldn't be more mistaken. Your business's very existence depends on your stakeholders. They require and deserve a well-thought-out, ongoing communication strategy that keeps them in the loop.
Follow a few simple tips for developing a plan to connect regularly with your stakeholders, and you'll soon reap the rewards in increased engagement and profitability.
Before you can communicate with your stakeholders, you need to identify exactly who they are. Defined as any individual or group who has an interest in an organization and its activities, a stakeholder can affect your business or be affected by it. Examples include customers, employees, and the community at large.
The number of stakeholders you have is dependent on the size and type of your business. For example, a sole proprietorship offering a single product or service will have fewer stakeholders than an enterprise sales company that procures large-scale, complex contracts.
Regardless of how many individuals or groups are somehow linked to your business, you should develop a cohesive plan to keep them in the loop on anything that could affect them and their relationship to you.
Your business's stakeholders fall into two broad categories, internal and external. Internal stakeholders are your employees, subcontractors, and other members of your day-to-day operations. External stakeholders include customers, suppliers, investors, and the general public.
Internal communications tend to be less formal and easier to manage than external ones. After all, your team has a vested interest in the success of your business. But just because they're predisposed to be receptive to your messaging doesn't mean you should take their goodwill for granted. Whether you're texting everyone about an upcoming party or making a staff meeting presentation, keep your tone respectful and encouraging.
Communicating with external stakeholders often takes a bit more forethought and finesse. You might be announcing a new product, sharing a helpful blog post, or taking a position on a social issue or current event. Besides ensuring that your content is error-free, make sure you're clear on why this information is important to your stakeholders and what action you hope they'll take as a result of it.
Once you've identified your stakeholders, you need to select the appropriate tools for communicating effectively with them. Some options include emails, social media posts, press releases, and public appearances. While you may use these same vehicles for your marketing efforts, keep in mind that the goal of your stakeholder communication efforts is quite different. Sales may be an indirect result, but your primary objective is to relay information in a helpful and trustworthy manner.
For more advice on keeping your stakeholders in the loop, check out these 14 communication tips from industry experts. Key takeaways include showing as well as telling, keeping it short, and staying consistent.
Hopefully, you'll never need to activate it, but you should have an emergency communications plan in place. Whether justified or not, negative feedback can spread quickly and put your business's meticulously established reputation at risk. Be proactive by crafting a step-by-step strategy for responding to attacks so that you're operating from a position of power rather than defense.
Even if you've never thought about it before, your business has multiple stakeholders who are vitally interested in what you're doing. Embrace them as the vital components they are by engaging them through an ongoing, effective communications strategy. Your efforts will pay off through increased engagement, greater loyalty, and a healthier bottom line.
Publish Date: June 3, 2021 6:00 PM