There are various marketing and communication channels — and methods — that entrepreneurs can use to promote their products and services. The question, however, is which one works best?

As Sir Richard Branson says, entrepreneurs need to take their business to where the conversation is happening. Taking your business to the conversation is an excellent start, but how do you determine where that is? Which channels should you use to communicate your messages, and how can entrepreneurs position themselves in an ever-changing market?

With these questions in mind, here are five crucial steps that will help you take your business to the conversation in 2020:

1. Cultivate a clear vision

A lack of a clear vision is like getting into a car with a blindfold on. You need to know what it is you want to achieve and add as much detail as possible. Set yourself a big goal for the year ahead and break it down into smaller stepping stones of what you need to do.

You can do this by breaking it down into what you need to do each quarter in order to get to your big goal. Write down what you want to achieve, what you stand for, as well as your brand promise. Make sure that it aligns with your vision.

2. Conduct research

Research is the roadmap to your vision and it provides you with the crucial data and information you need in order to reach the goals that you set out in step one. It also helps to define and understand your target audience.

Understanding exactly what makes your specific target audience tick, whether they are eight or 80, will enable you to know exactly what to communicate to whom. It will reveal what the most effective channel of communication is for you and what is the best time to do so.

This means that you target your audience according to their specific needs, as opposed to a 'spray and pray' approach, which tries to reach everyone and ends up reaching no one.

3. Target your messages

Once you know where you are going and you have gathered the facts, you can start creating messages for each target audience. The way you communicate and explain something to your children differs from the way that you communicate with your grandmother. Why should this not apply to your marketing and communication messages as well?

Different genders, age groups and cultures should ideally have messages that are targeted at them and that speaks to them directly. As long as the brand promise remains the same and authentic, the messages can be shaped to appeal to different target markets.

4. Choose the correct channels

The next step in taking your business to the conversation is to choose the correct channel to communicate to the different target audiences. Communication channels can include:
  • email
  • instant messages
  • social media
  • telephone calls
  • face to face meetings, and
  • newsletters.
During the research phase, entrepreneurs should also focus on determining what channels are the most effective channel when communicating with the different target audiences.

Utilising these different channels will ensure that your target audiences feel valued and they will know that you listened to their needs and preferences. It does not help to have a TikTok account — because it's the latest fad — when it is never updated and your key audience hardly knows that it exists or what a hashtag is.

5. Build lasting relationships

In an era where computers and social media are dominating the way we communicate, it is important to realise that we are dealing with people. Building interpersonal relationships, getting to know your clients and really caring for them will differentiate you from being just another entrepreneur that communicates to the crowds.

In order to really bring your business to the conversation, you need to listen to your customers. Listening is just as important as using the correct communication channels. Give your customers the opportunity to give you feedback. This will, in turn, close the communication loop and build lasting relationships.

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