Some businesses have seen a period of massive growth lately, especially those that deal solely with online sales and services. While this development is promising, it also opens up a business to another problem — that of having their growth outscale their ability to communicate.
Business communication deals with how the company interacts with and informs its employees and its clients, which includes the overall branding promise. Naturally, a small company is likely to have a different approach to a larger one, simply because of the scale of the communication involved.
However, as businesses grow in size, many of their focus areas and key elements that helped them get to where they are today tend to fall and get lost in the mix. Unfortunately, this happens to a great majority of businesses and brands, and it just doesn’t have to be this way.
We consulted 14 entrepreneurs from YEC about the best ways for a business to ensure that their communication keeps up with their business growth. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Be Open to Feedback and Change
Maintaining effective communication through growth is something that’s hard to get right. In my experience, the trick here is not some grand multi-step strategy. You’ll never get that right — at least I don’t. The trick is to be able and willing to listen. When you’re receptive to feedback, your team will inform you when they lack context. I see my job as listening and adapting.
2. Create Brand Guidelines
Brand guidelines can be a one-page document that helps the whole team understand what is on or off brand. Having the guidelines written down helps if they need to be changed as well, which can happen if there are changes to the business that need to be reflected back in the core brand guidelines (example: acquisition of another company with a different brand positioning).
3. Replicate Your Voice
In an ideal world, you can just hire employees who “care” as much as you do about staying on brand. In reality, it’s next to impossible to find those employees, and it takes a lot of time to properly train them. As such, the next best thing is to “replicate your voice.” You can do this through company documents, training materials, videos, websites, social media and even a message to callers who are on hold!
4. Build a Strategic Communications Plan
Create brand guidelines that define tone, style, etc., and make the guidelines available to your communications team(s). Build out a strategic communications plan that maps the various outreaches, both internal and external, that will be needed as part of the business’s growth. Make it clear who is responsible for each communication and who signs off on its compliance with brand standards.
5. Leverage Automated Tools
Make sure you have automation tools and systems in place. This way, the brand can scale without heavy manual oversight, and creative roadmaps can receive the proper attention they deserve.
6. Audit Communication Channels
The larger your organization is, the more detailed of a process that will need to be laid out in order to ensure continuity and correct messaging. Like a game of telephone, conduct an audit to understand where gaps in communication may be occurring and be prepared to revise your process.
7. Create a Chain of Accountability
As your business grows, it’s critical that everyone stays on the same page. When you add new departments or see massive growth in one of your teams, assign leaders to keep each group accountable. This chain of accountability ensures that everyone’s on the same page.
8. Have Daily Meetings
For rapid and sustainable growth, you must have daily meetings to make sure your communications are on brand. Nothing goes out without several sets of eyes on it and those working on these communications are held accountable for performance and delivery. We check in multiple times per day — it does not need to be long, but a morning and afternoon signs-of-life check does wonders.
9. Maintain Personal Connections
Because most of my employees work off-site, it’s important to communicate as often as we can with one another and that they feel supported by me. We hold a quarterly all-hands staff meeting where we go into more detail and ensure that everyone gets to know one another. With a rapidly growing business, unless we have regular get-togethers with our team, people start to lose that personal connection.
10. Create a Schedule
Like everything else, communication needs to be planned to be effective. This means investing in the right tools, creating fixed weekly meetings, quarterly appraisals, one-on-ones and more. Use calendars and create reminders for these meetings so that they’re all in place and clearly communicated. It’s just a matter of planning “up” as your business grows.
11. Establish a Single Tool
The means of communication are becoming endless, from Slack to email to phone or IM, so it is no surprise that interoffice communication becomes a problem the larger a team becomes. Put a process in place that streamlines communication on certain topics into one single location and on one identified platform. This way, everyone knows where to go to stay up to date.
12. Take a Step Back
Sometimes you just need to take a step back from all the craziness that comes with day-to-day management of a business and ask yourself, “Is this on brand?” If you continue to ask the question and be true to your core values, communications will remain on point.
13. Train and Delegate
As your business grows, it’s not realistic to think that you can maintain the same level of interpersonal communication as before. The next best step is to train key people in your business to communicate on your behalf. Lead by example and also create documentation that outlines what to discuss. This will keep things consistent across the organization.
14. Hire a Content Marketing Agency
When you need to scale communication both internally and externally, it’s helpful to hire some help. A content marketing agency can help you with everything, from your company blog, to bylined content, to internal communications and speeches from executives, and can ensure that everything is consistent and on brand.
How to Focus on Growth and Business Communications
For most businesses and brands, it’s all about the bottom line and trying to reach new goals and levels every quarter. However, the last thing you want to do is hit your goals while jeopardizing your customer and B2B relationships that you’ve worked so hard for.
To best accomplish this, we highly recommend you go through each of the tips and expert advice featured above and start implementing these solutions into your own business or brand.
The post 14 Ways to Ensure Company Growth Doesn’t Outstrip Business Communication appeared first on Zac Johnson.