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Posted by Sarah Brown on 31 Jul '18

Stakeholder mapping or who do you really need to talk to?

Are you talking to everyone that you need to? And how do you decide what to say and how to do it and how often?

While hardly anybody does stakeholder mapping unless they are a communications professional it really is important to work out who you need to talk to and why, particularly when time is so precious and we could all do with more focus.

Before you start to think about your stakeholders you need to think about what is the issue you are considering as the audiences and where they are on the map will vary depending on what you want to achieve with your communications. Achieving anything is like completing a jigsaw you need to have all the key pieces in place and communicating effectively to each of the audiences is a critical part of the success. Creating a strategy, and developing a plan will frequently pre-empt issues and increase the success of projects.

Reasons to talk

Examples of reasons for communications campaigns include:

  • Expanding into a new geographical area as an organisation or with a specific service
  • Wanting to change/expand your premises
  • Wanting to grow the organisation
  • Needing to attract staff

How to map

I tend to use a big sheet of paper and post it© notes to map different people that are important to the organisation based on the issue. As the diagram shows these will break into four categories:

  • Interested in you and important to you
  • Important to you but not interested in you
  • Interested in you and not important to you
  • Neither important nor interested in you

The first two categories are the most important and, if possible, you want to encourage people in category 2 to become interested so that they move to 1. Messages will be tailored by audience but where they sit on the map will dictate how much effort and expense you invest in communicating.

Varying audiences

If you just think about the four example campaigns above the key audiences that are important and interested will be different for each one:

Expanding into a new geographical area as an organisation or with a specific service

In a new area you will want to raise your profile with key influencers such as the local media, important local organisations which may include high profile charities and sports organisations. You will also want to communicate with prospects and their influencers such as professional advisers.

Wanting to change/expand your premises

The key audiences you will want to communicate with are your neighbours and the wider community including the parish or town or borough council. There may be local environmental groups you also need to communicate with or specialist organisations like heritage bodies if your building has a history.

Wanting to grow the organisation

This thinking should already be in place if you have got a marketing plan but audiences that are sometimes forgotten and can help a lot with growth are key influencers who advise your prospects and other suppliers into the same prospects with complementary services who you could collaborate with. If you don’t have a map for your marketing audiences then it is useful to do and ensure you include existing customers on it, key ones by name potentially and then others by their shared interests

Needing to attract staff

Depending on your location and type of staff needed local universities may be a key audience, local prisons, or local charities working with people wanting to get back into work. Research may identify local businesses with redundancy programmes in place who could be a good audience.

This last example illustrates the importance of thinking broadly and doing research to identify audiences.

What to say and how

Now comes the hard part and here are some of the questions you need to be asking for each of the audiences:

  • What are their personal interests in the issue?
  • What do they need to know?
  • How can you effectively communicate?
  • What are the existing views before you start to try to influence and communicate?
  • How can you track the impact of your communication?
  • What do people need to know and how can you interest them?
  • Whose opinion do they value?

If you need help with developing your communications plans to support you achieving your goals then give me a ring on 01709 810080 to see how we can help.

If you found this useful you might like to read:

How to win friends and influence people

Stakeholder communications planning

Using emotion to increase your sales

Action Marketing Plan

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Tags: communication leadership marketing