SMES: Ignore communication at your own peril

By Rukh-Shana Namuyimba

Communication is one aspect of our lives, personal and business, that can’t be over emphasised but sadly is not given as much attention as it deserves. When it comes to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the mastery of communicating with both internal (teams) and external (customers and other stakeholders) audience is critical to success. If the communication is not streamlined, there are higher possibilities of business failure.
Imagine running a business where the team has no idea what the strategic objectives are, there is not clarity on performance, there is no guidance on how to communicate effectively to customers and suppliers and no policies on what to and not to say to the outside world. What you would have is a ship on course to nowhere and waiting to sink when the winds blow hard enough. It helps to think of communication as storytelling. This happens 24/7 and being deliberate about telling your story internally and externally is critical.

Internal communication
Engaging employees through internal communication keeps them informed, empowered and hopefully inspired. When you think of staff as the line of brand ambassadors, they will need to be abreast with what’s going on but even more important, how to represent the organisation in their spheres of influence. It’s important to build a working environment where everyone knows the strategic direction of the business, understands and appreciates the challenges and opportunities and can tell your organisation’s story.
Engaging with customers and other external stakeholders can persuade them to make certain decisions like purchasing your product, offering you services etc. So external communication is an integral part of the overall marketing plan. It helps you stay in touch with stakeholders beyond your staff and is more than just about spreading your message or reaching out to others. Effective communication also involves taking the time to listen to any feedback you receive so you can consistently improve your service to your customers. How you communicate with your external audiences is crucial to the way your brand is perceived and responded to.
Communication is only effective when clear, consistent and well-targeted messages are delivered through the appropriate channels and understood by the intended recipient.

The writer is the communication & events manager at dfcu bank.

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