Midsized Company Marketing Communications – Five Major Considerations For 2014

Another year is ending, and economic uncertainty and Washington’s gridlock continue to plague consumers, companies and brands.

That said, life must go on. And whether you’re a business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B), or nonprofit organization, the question remains as to what marketing and marketing communications investments, strategies and tactics should you employ in the year ahead. My thoughts on achieving profitable sales growth are as follows. Some may surprise you.

  1. It’s Time to Increase Marketing Communications Spending
    You probably haven’t heard many pundits talk about increasing marketing communications investments in 2014. However, you probably haven’t heard much about what Congress is considering in this area either. Did you know that Congress is now reviewing a reduction of the current 100 percent deductibility of advertising spending?

    The current discussions center on permitting a deduction of only 50 percent of the costs in the year the advertising runs, and then amortizing the remaining 50 percent over the subsequent five or ten year period. In reality, a new tax on advertising.

    Both parties are pushing this, and while it is doubtful that anything will make it into law in 2014, once the process has started it’s very difficult to get it stopped. So, consider the significant opportunity that exists – for at least a year – to use increased spending to profitably build your brand in 2014.

  2. Employ Market Research to Further Understand Your Customer
    Many B2C and B2B marketers believe they understand everything that is important to their customers and prospects. But do they really?

    Rather than “thinking” you understand what’s really important to them, and how they perceive your brand versus competition, doesn’t it make good sense to conduct market research to uncover the real truth?

    In today’s fast changing world, your target audience has multiple ways of evaluating your product or service well before entering a store, placing an online order, or speaking with a sales person. And unless you constantly monitor their conversations on social media, you’ll never know, for sure, their attitudes and perceptions (or, perhaps more importantly, their misperceptions).

    Before you invest your precious marketing and marketing communications money and time, make it a priority to invest in fully understanding your target audience. Look before you leap!

  3. Improve Your Brand’s ROI with a Marketing Communications Audit
    Consider conducting a marketing communications audit to determine when, where and how to invest your time and money. An audit can provide you with an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of your existing program as a whole, as well how each marketing tactic does or does not meet your objectives.

    A marketing communications audit will help you determine:

    • What subject matter should be emphasized (or de-emphasized);
    • How to improve your budget allocation and media mix;
    • The fit of existing or planned theming, graphics, and tone and manner of all messaging;
    • A roadmap of how messages should be delivered across all media, both traditional and “new”

    Integrating your marketing communications in a holistic manner (with messaging that is important to your audience) before you commit marketing dollars can provide a significant opportunity to improve ROI.

  4. Recognize the Importance of the Creative Product
    With all of the focus over the past few years on the efficiency of media delivery, some marketers have forgotten that the creative product itself has been – and always will be – the key to effective marketing communications.

    If the creative product doesn’t break through the clutter and increase awareness, and if it doesn’t improve your image and convince your customers and prospects to buy, the delivery system you employ really won’t matter.

    This is true in all aspects of your communications – the website, content marketing communications, advertising, social media, public relations, direct mail, collateral materials, and even that latest cure all, “native advertising”.

    As Tom Bradley, head of marketing at Nestle once said, “the best source of marketing communications leverage is the quality of message. It’s not the media vehicle, new or traditional, that does or does not deliver.”

    And don’t settle for unproven creative practitioners or cut corners because of cost. Good creative work is priceless, so nurture the creative professionals you have to constantly deliver impactful messages that your audience can relate to and be engaged by. Make sure someone in your organization has the expertise to not only encourage brilliant creative work, but also to recognize it when he sees it. As the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”.

  5. Marketing and Marketing Communications Consultants Can Improve ROI
    There will be challenges in the year ahead. Consumers are more demanding and knowledgeable, and along with businesses, have learned to purchase in new ways. Rapid changes in technology have created an “always on” media environment. A recent study by Forrester reports that 34 percent of marketers currently feel overwhelmed by change.

    If this hits home with you, now may be the time to tap into established, experienced, media neutral consultants. It’s an efficient use of your resources and can provide much needed objectivity to the choices you have to make.

    In this uncertain economic landscape, B2C and B2B marketers are already stretched to the limit. Many will benefit from candid and apolitical “fresh eyes” who are willing to tell it like it is.

    Above all, search for consultants with broad scope and senior level experience across industries and brands. This diversity of experience and their network of like-minded professionals can expand your horizons while keeping you on budget.

Success in the Year Ahead
There will be many other factors for marketers to consider in 2014 – recognizing a rapidly growing older population, the importance of the Latino community, globalization, the effectiveness of various content marketing tactics-to name a few. Hopefully, the five major considerations discussed above will challenge you to even deeper thinking for a more profitable year.

Multiple Forms Of Marketing Communication – Helping You Reach Your Widest Target Audience

You’ll have heard the saying ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ and when it comes to your marketing communications you really do need to take that on board! Using just one or two types of marketing communication can be a risky business.

But, just to confuse matters a little more (!), using too many different marketing communications can be just as dicey…

So, what direction should you be taking?

Well, in short, you should be focusing on 4 or 5 marvellous marketing communication types to ensure you have all avenues covered. Should you continue to focus on just one you can be sure that you won’t reach the widest audience possible. Also, what would happen if the one and only communication type you are using is no longer flavour of the month?

It goes without saying that your aim, where your business is concerned, is to reach as many people within your target audience as is possible.

No two people are the same – the world would be very boring if we were… So, to be sure that you are reaching all of these different personalities, it’s essential that you include a variety of marketing options to be sure you appeal to the largest chunk of this medley of personalities within your target audience.

As with many things these days, different marketing methods are in and out of fashion at the blink of an eye… If the marketing model you are using goes out of fashion overnight, you have a problem and will need to work quickly to implement something new. The trouble with this is that ‘rash’ decisions aren’t often good decisions. Plus, you’ll have lost valuable marketing time while you sort the issue out.

Also, different people have their likes and dislikes of various forms of communication. Some people love e-mail delivery, but you’ll have some who don’t even use e-mail (imagine that…) or they are so fed up with receiving e-mail in droves that it no longer has the desired effect. Or, they may feel that the e-mail being sent doesn’t focus on relationship building and is too ‘salesy’ from the outset – the opt-out button is hit in one split second… So, it may be that the e-mail phobics would be better suited to direct mail.

Then there are those that don’t own a fax, but do use Facebook. They love social media and Blog reading, so maybe that’s how you should be marketing to them.

So you catch the drift. What one person likes, the next person doesn’t. Your quest is to find out who likes what and the types of communication that people will marvel at!

For example, if you look and note that a proportion of your target market is male, age 18-35 and living in an urban area. It is likely that social media communications would be a better fit than direct mail.

To fulfil your quest, you need to be sure to test and track your marketing. You could even ask for feedback on your marketing methods to help you understand what is liked best and by who.

So, in summary, to be sure that your marketing system is durable and robust:-

– Never focus on just one lonesome type of marketing communication

– Be sure to interface multiple marketing communications

– Track and test what type of communication works best and with who

– Ask for feedback on your marketing communications

Multiple marketing communications are important to ensure that you reach the widest audience possible and to be sure that they get to know about your offering!

Integrated Marketing Communications: Why Is It Important?

Managing and coordinating the entire communications process calls for integrated marketing communications (IMC). But what is IMC and why is it important?

By definition, integrated marketing communications is a concept of marketing communications planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan. Such plan evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communications disciplines and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum impact through the seamless integration of individual discrete messages.

Considering that (a) the mass market can be fragmented into a multitude of mini-markets (with each mini-market requiring its own approach), (b) there is continuous proliferation of new types of media, and (c) there is growing sophistication of consumers, it is clear that there is definitely a need for marketers to utilize a wide range of communication tools to efficiently deliver messages to specific audiences. Marketers should therefore combine personal and non-personal communication channels to achieve maximum impact (i.e., employing multiple-vehicle, multiple-stage campaigns). Hence, it is clearly imperative for companies to move toward integrated marketing communications, and the absence of which results in uncoordinated communications and image diffusion.

A comprehensive integrated marketing communications plan can produce stronger message consistency. It can also help to build brand equity as well as create greater sales impact. Furthermore, it can unify the company’s brand images and messages as they come through multiple company activities. In simpler terms, IMC improves the company’s ability to reach the right customers with the right messages at the right time in the right place.

Marketing Communication – The 6 Primary Forms of Marketing Communication You Can Employ to Promote

Marketing and Promotion can occur through various avenues. Creativity not withstanding, all marketing and promotion can be categorized in 1 of 6 primary forms.

These 6 primary forms of marketing communication are as follows:

1. Media

Media marketing communication refers to any traditional mass distribution broadcast or publication with a large volume of viewers, listeners, or viewership. Television, Radio, , Internet Banner Ads, Magazines, Newspapers, Billboards, etc are all forms of traditional media marketing.

A more recent addition to this type of marketing communication is the webinars and social networking sites on the internet.

Regarding up front costs, media marketing communication tends to be the most expensive type of marketing. This is due to the value related to the mass volume. The back end reward is that because of the volume, the actual cost per lead can be less if a high volume responds to the marketing effort. So, the trade off is that it may cost more up front but can produce more leads by volume.

2. Mail

Mail is an equally popular method of marketing communication. Whether it is direct and independent or bundled in a mass mailing, millions of marketing message are sent by mail daily. Distributing marketing messages by mail is difficult, though. It is so easy for the message to simply hit the trash.

Ideally, if marketing communication is performed by mail, it should be to a targeted list. A target list is list of subscribers who indicated an interest for a particular product or service. Since mail is paid per unit delivery, it is more cost effective to mail to individuals who expressed interest or who have demonstrated interest by previous consumption.

3. Telephone

The telephone is another obvious form of marketing communication. Whether there is a live human dialing you or if contact is accomplished by an auto-dialer, the telephone can be an efficient way to contact a large amount of people in a short period of time. The telephone, due to the number prefixes, also, allowed for targeting specific geographical areas. Limitations with the phone, however, include the requirement that someone answer, or have voice mail, and short duration of exposure to message. Additionally, legalities must be considered due to the “do not call” list which allows numbers to be opted out from direct marketing.

4. Electronic

Electronic marketing communication is best know by fax or email. These are very cost efficient mediums with email marketing being near infinite return on investment when successful due to the negligible cost associated. Also, the available message space is virtually infinite, as well.

Another rising form of electronic marketing communication is SMS and MMS through the mobile phones. These are otherwise known as text or picture messaging. Systems are available now that can mass text to multiple mobile numbers at once, or allow consumers to text in a particular message to a 5 digit number in order to receive a pre-formatted message. This is usually associated with contests for sufficient enticement.

The issues with electronic marketing communication, quite similar to mail and telephone, is that you must build a list of names and associated email addresses, or numbers, in order to market in volume.

5. Direct Contact

Marketing communication by direct contact is less efficient unless talking to groups. And, even then, it is usually limited to a very finite number. This is in stark contrast to the other forms of marketing mentioned above.

Additionally, direct contact can be a more aggressive, or assertive form of marketing and requires a special verbal communication skill set. If direct communication is not handled correctly, prospects can be easily alienated.

The underlying theme to direct contact is that efforts must be made to determine the interests of the consumers and to tailor solutions which accommodate their needs and interests, versus the needs of the marketer.

This is true for all forms of marketing, but especially poignant and noticeable with direct contact.

6. Referral

This final form of marketing communication is very strong and highly effective. It relies on the testimony of previously satisfied consumers to market. It is really marketing based upon strength in relationships. It has been reported that it is 6 times easier to market to someone where a relationship has already been established than to a new contact.

Referral based marketing communication is the truest form of flattery or complement that a business can receive as it reflects upon the genuine acceptance, appreciation, and approval of an established relationship. Theoretically, as a quality business grows, referral marketing of satisfied consumers can be a perpetual source of new clientele.

A key concept to remember when employing any form of marketing communication is that studies show that it typically takes an average of 7-9 exposures to a message before a consumer will respond to an offer. This means that your budget should take this into consideration when deciding on a particular form of marketing communication.

A second key concept is that you have to do split testing and statistical analysis to objectively determine which marketing messages, and marketing communication avenues, are producing.