How to involve my customers in my communication strategy?

Keeping customers updated on your company’s products, services, and activities ensures constant market visibility. Communication strategies help you to define your goals, the best ways to reach them, and to stay the course. Your communications strategy will also serve as a way to define your business’s message.
With the advent of multiple global communication platforms, a company’s reach is further, and the competitors are louder. Involving your customers in your communication process, and in turn your strategy, will help eliminate a lot of ‘noise’ and messages will be better received.

Know your customer
How you communicate to an audience in their twenties compared to how you communicate with a pensioner will often be different – as will the means by which you involve them. It’s unlikely that you will reach a large young audience by marketing through newspapers, for example.
Donald Swanepoel, founder of South African-based marketing and communications agency Herd, says, “I think historically with advertising or marketing, companies would approach it very formulaically. So you would go to an above-the-line company because you think that you need a TV or a print ad. I think the advice would be to firstly do proper research on your target audience to know exactly who they are so that you can then figure out what channels they use.
When you put your communication strategy together you always start with your audience and then check and do proper research on them – and that informs which media channels you communicate through.
The language and style you use are important. How you say something to a customer will indicate to them whether it is meant for them – and whether you understand them and are best-suited to meeting their needs.

Define your aims
The purpose for your communication will almost always depict how you should involve your customer. Do you want to gather a following and convert the numbers to sales? Are you trying to push a new product or service? Or do you want to build a solid, reputable company image? The intention of the message informs the message itself.
Your company’s core position needs to be behind each message. Each message should reflect what it is that you’re selling – and not just the product or service, but the philosophy behind the business offering it. Is it the cheapest? The latest? The coolest?
As Swanepoel explains,
When you start your marketing, especially for a new company or a new brand, you need to be very single-minded in terms of your offering or what your positioning as a product or as a company is. And I think a lot of times people try and say too much, they get too many messages across – whereas it needs to be very simple. So you need say, ‘We fix phones in the fastest possible time,’ and that needs to be what separates your company from your competitors. Or, ‘We develop software that does specifically this.’ And that kind of platform or line of positioning needs to be at the forefront of every piece of communication.

Dedicate the appropriate resources to social media
Social media allows access to a huge audience. It’s flexible, real-time communication with your customers. And a lot of the time, you don’t have a choice. Any company that wants to remain visible in the market needs to be active on social media. Not using a tool that is potentially so useful, and one that allows you to talk to customers, especially young ones, can send the message that either you’re not going to be the most up-to-date product or service, or that you simply don’t care to talk to customers.
That said, don’t take social media lightly. The way you interact with customers, unlike on a phone or in-store, can be seen by everyone – as can the time it takes you to respond. If you want to engage with customers and build a valuable base for getting feedback or reaching out for opinions, as well as building loyalty and keeping your brand top of mind in customers’ heads, it’s important that you dedicate time and human resources to handling this properly.