Three Key Elements of Messaging Alignment
October 26, 2023
Poor communication is expensive. By some estimates, it costs businesses as much as $37 billion per year—but that’s only half the story.
Forrester research found highly aligned companies grow 19% faster, and are 15% more profitable than companies with poor alignment. So, while messaging misalignment is more expensive than most people imagine, fixing it is not only possible, it can have a measurable positive impact on the bottom line.
Misalignment is common, but curable.
Organizations often send contradictory messages to employees, leading to confusion, frustration, and general apathy with internal communications. In a recent market data report, Gitnux shared that “97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project.” Gallup further states that only ”7% of U.S. workers strongly agree that communication is accurate, timely, and open where they work.”
That leaves 93% who feel that internal communication needs to improve.
As many as 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional, and poor communication emerges as one of the biggest culprits. When team dynamics are unbalanced, complex business tasks become even harder to handle, and that friction reverberates across the entire organization.
According to some studies, companies that adopt effective communication practices achieve as much as 47% higher total returns to shareholders. Aligned messaging unites senior leadership, stakeholders, employees, and external partners.
Messaging alignment also:
- Helps stakeholders understand the organization’s vision, mission, values, and goals
- Reduces confusion, duplication, and inconsistency for more effective marketing and communication campaigns
- Creates a common language and culture to boost collaboration and innovation across teams and departments
- Supports scalability as organizations adapt faster to changing market conditions
- Reduces employee turnover as good communication fuels engagement and satisfaction among employees
Messaging alignment improves internal communication at its core, increasing productivity and improving outcomes by preventing issues caused by conflicting or outdated information. If you’re working to build a better-aligned communication ecosystem, there are three foundational elements to consider:
- Provide a central source of truth where employees can both seek and discover up-to-date information.
- Work with a diverse range of organizational representatives to establish cohesive communication practices and strategies.
- Provide timely and clear information to all employees, avoiding the need for second or third-hand information.
With these three elements reinforced, building a sturdy, resilient communication culture isn’t just easier, it’s inevitable.
Three Key Elements of Messaging Alignment
Building a messaging alignment framework that will gain high adoption rates across departments involves adopting three crucial practices:
Providing a central source of truth
Siloed in databases, hidden in emails, forgotten in out-of-date software like old customer relationship management (CRM) systems, or even trapped in an individual’s head—crucial data hides in many places. And when all teams fail to access the same data, that hinders collaboration and increases the chances of error across departments.
Having a single access point to all relevant information supports processes and tasks. It reduces the risk of data inconsistency, duplication, and errors. A single source of truth (SSOT) aggregates data from across an organization in one place. It gives stakeholders a complete view of product creation, business performance, customer needs, and market trends.
Here are some examples of SSOTs you might recognize in both a business and personal context.:
SSOT architecture enables a search engine to retrieve information quickly. This data can be in separate databases in different departments or external sources.
For instance, a searcher enters a Google query to find a nearby car repair service. Google pulls business hours, phone numbers, locations, services, and ratings from disparate sources. It draws data from Google Maps, shops’ websites, and Yelp or Google ratings. Google users enjoy the benefit of having a single source of truth. They can make an informed choice without wasting time finding all the data themselves.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems
CRM systems like Salesforce or HubSpot gather customer information into an SSOT. A CRM is convenient because the system uses the same language, metrics, and customer data. This helps the marketing, sales, and production departments synchronize efforts. As a result, teams can harmonize products, services, marketing campaigns, and sales strategies.
The detailed information that CRM systems provide empowers businesses to segment customers. Segmenting makes it possible to deliver personalized products and messages to each group. Personalization fuels good customer experience, and happy customers share their good experiences.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
The goal of ERP software is to create interconnection through optimal resource performance. The software promotes business efficiency by integrating and synchronizing data from various functions. The data flows between different business processes instead of being siloed in departments. Users can view finance, operations, and HR information in one place.
When companies link departments on an ERP, users have a central source of truth. Everyone has access to the same databases, which brings better messaging alignment.
An intranet is a private internal communications network. Using it allows communication teams to align their messages easily. It is customizable, secure, and serves as a reliable source.
Intranets enhance organizational communication and provide a single starting point to access internal and external resources. Employees can use them to securely find answers, communicate, store information, and collaborate. Good intranets also have a customizable dashboard that displays important messages and commonly used data.
Intranets foster trust and transparency by promoting open, honest, aligned communication among all levels of the organization.
Creating an effective communication strategy
Gallagher’s informative 2022/2023 State of the Sector report states that 74% of employers say shaping culture and creating a sense of belonging is the purpose of their internal communication strategy. However, only 56% of respondents think employees understand the company’s strategy, vision, and purpose.
Internal communicators and HR teams can use messaging alignment strategies to unite teams and grow employee understanding. But kickstarting an effective messaging alignment strategy requires a plan. Having a framework to define the messaging goals, audience, channels, and content will steer strategy. A clearly defined communications plan will also help gain critical top-level support.
Comms teams can follow these steps to build a practical messaging alignment framework:
- Define the users and their needs, preferences, and pain points.
- Identify communication goals and objectives, like growing employee engagement or conversions.
- Analyze current messaging’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
- Compare the analysis with competitors and industry best practices to spot gaps.
- Craft the unique value proposition to build brand voice and alignment across teams.
- Choose the most appropriate channels and formats for delivering messages. Examples include intranet, email, social media, blog, podcast, or video.
- Establish metrics to measure messaging strategy effectiveness so everyone uses the same measurements.
- Iterate and optimize the strategy based on data and feedback.
With a basic communications plan established, comms teams should align it with leadership before executing.
Getting leadership support
An effective messaging alignment strategy requires having everyone on the same page, so earning stakeholder support is critical.
- Identify the key stakeholders and decision-makers for the project. Understand their roles, interests, and expectations.
- Communicate the project’s value proposition and benefits to leaders. Explain how they align with organizational vision and goals.
- Ask for stakeholder feedback and input. Tweak the project plan, scope, budget, and timeline as appropriate.
- Establish regular communication channels. Update leaders on project progress, achievements, challenges, and issues.
- Involve stakeholders in resolving any conflicts or problems arising during project execution.
- Recognize contributions and support for the project and celebrate successes.
Keeping employees informed
When leadership provides clear and aligned messages, employees stay informed without relying on rumors. Well-informed employees can communicate consistently and confidently with colleagues, customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
Organizations can use a mix of channels and formats to keep employees informed. By addressing the needs and preferences of every department (and person), communications
Here are the most widely used channels and their benefits:
- Intranet posts educate and inspire employees with relevant and valuable content.
- Social media campaigns raise awareness. Catchy hashtags, engaging visuals, and user-generated content drive action.
- Newsletters provide valuable information and helpful resources to employees.
- Podcasts can feature stories, interviews, and insights. Industry experts and influencers provide a source of knowledge for employees.
- Webinars showcase a new product or service. They display benefits while answering common questions from potential customers.
- Town halls provide opportunities for face-to-face interaction.
An intranet dashboard is a particularly effective way to reach internal audiences with any or all of these communication mediums. Users can set notifications so they don’t miss anything, saving valuable time and effort.
Messaging Alignment Changes Outcomes
Organizations can improve messaging alignment, creating more impactful messages to enhance both the employee experience and the bottom line impact of their work. To maximize these benefits, businesses need a comprehensive messaging alignment framework focused on:
- Providing a central source of truth
- Collaborating with stakeholders
- Delivering timely, accurate information organization-wide.