How to Create an 8-Step Strategic Communications Planning Matrix

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Becoming a trusted advisor to your clients is one of the best ways to build your writing career and your income. It only makes sense. If you are involved in creating the marketing strategy, you will be more valuable to the client than if you are simply completing writing projects.

In an effort to make the transition from writer to strategic advisor, I started to pursue my master’s degree in Strategic Communications from Penn State. In one of the classes, we’re learning how to use a powerful tool that can help you organize all the moving parts of a complex strategic communications plan. It’s called the 8-Step Strategic Communications Matrix.

In this article, I will walk you through the process of putting the communications matrix together so you can offer planning services to your clients.

The eight steps of the planning matrix are divided into four categories: research, action planning, communication, and evaluation.

As I go through the steps, I will use my side business of private trumpet lessons as an example.

Start with Research

Step 1: Background Research

Find out as much as you can about the industry, the organization, and the surrounding community. Learn as much as you can about the customers and the issues they are currently facing. Also pay attention to other people who are affected by the organization, especially their opinions, attitudes, and behaviors.

For my trumpet lesson business, I would research the community. For example, socioeconomically, the people in the town I live in have higher incomes and higher education levels than the surrounding communities. They are focused on academic achievement and getting into college — musical lessons can be advantageous on a college resume.

The surrounding communities have tight-knit families and might be interested in music for the sake of playing at family celebrations.

I also need to get to know the specific people who are involved in the music scene, such as music teachers, community band directors, professional and amateur players, parents of young kids, and parents of older kids, and find out what their needs and problems are.

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Mandy Marksteiner

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