Here’s How You Can Create Your Marketing Communications Effectively

When we talk about delivering your message to your prospective customers and convincing them to buy from you we are talking about marketing communications. To communicate effectively you need to know to whom you are speaking and understand what motivates your prospective customers. A great way to begin developing your marketing communications is by answering a series of questions. So let’s get started.

The main question you are answering is: who is your target market? The answer to this question forms the basis of all the “market communications” you will produce. You need to think through who you want to reach with your product or service. In order to fully identify your target market you need to think about your customer on several different levels.

First start by identifying the demographic information of your ideal customer. What is their:

  • age,
  • marital status,
  • gender, and
  • geographic information?

Once this is defined you then need to develop the psychological profile of your ideal customer. Ask questions such as:

  • What motivates your customer to act? Is it security, peace of mind, status, recognition, etc.
  • What makes your ideal customer happy?
  • What does the average day in the life of your customer look like?
  • What does your ideal customer do in their free time? Are they interested in sports, movies, exercise, reading, etc.
  • What struggles does your customer face on a daily basis?
  • Where will you find your customer spending their time online?

By creating the picture of your ideal customer you will understand their wants, needs and problems. You will also understand what they expect or need from the products and services they purchase. With this knowledge you are able to craft your marketing communications materials. Your messaging will be targeted to the people you are serving. Your messaging will identify why your product or service is important to them by indicating the need it fills or the problem it solves. Targeting your message in this manner enables you to connect with your customer on an emotional level that will solidify your relationship with them.

Throughout your marketing communications it is extremely important to maintain consistency in your materials. This applies to the look, feel and tone of your marketing communications. You need to think of your marketing communications moving on a continual timeline. By maintaining consistency in your presentation your customers will become familiar with your marketing material. This allows them to concentrate on the value messages you are delivering rather than looking at a new marketing format.

By focusing on your target market, maintaining consistency in your marketing presentation and packaging information that is valuable to your customers you will have a formula for continually growing your customer base.

FOMO – Killer of Effective Marketing Communication

No matter how awesome your stuff is, it does you no good if you can’t communicate to the relevant people about it.

When you get down to the purpose of communication, it’s to GET YOUR POINT THROUGH.

Which means, if you get too convoluted in your communication you’re going to lose your audience’s attention. When your audience gets lost, you don’t get your point through and they don’t understand you have good stuff for them. You don’t get to sell your stuff, and that’s not good for business.

I see a lot of “verbal diarrhea” in most marketing communications – online and offline.

I’m guilty too. I was looking at my website homepage the other day, and I thought – what exactly do I want to communicate? If I were a first-time visitor, would I know what to do?

When I redesigned the homepage, it started out with a pretty clear objective. As time went by, I read an article here and listened to a webinar there, I thought – hey maybe I should tell people A and B, and I probably should put a link for Y and Z.

So I added A and B and Y and Z – and the homepage got mucky.

It’s not because I didn’t know Keep It Simple Sunshine is a usually a good thing – I challenge my clients to do that all the time.

It’s because I am human, and I have FOMO (fear of missing out).

Many times when I come across a “tip” or “tactic” I have the urge to add it to my marketing communication so I can tell myself I got all the ground covered and I am pulling all the strings.

Not for the sake of my audience. But for the selfish reason of pacifying my FOMO…

Forgetting that if I pull all the strings and they go in opposite directions, they would cancel out the effect of each other!

3 Simple Words for FOMO Prevention: Clarity + Discernment + Discipline

FOMO can creep up everywhere in our communications – from website to brochures to presentations.

You need a powerful filter so you can stay focused and get the point through.

1. Clarity – what do you want this piece of communication to achieve? What’s the best way to get the point through?

2. Discernment – simple, chuck whatever that don’t answer the questions above.

3. Discipline – it’s easier said than done when it comes to “chucking” stuff. Now you have the awareness, you need to train your Discipline muscle so you can execute your discernment and free your communications from FOMO.

Theory is cheap… here’s how to stay focused when you write for these common webpages:

HOMEPAGE

What’s the primary objective to support your business at the moment? Building your list? Creating an authority positioning? Showcasing your work? Launching your book? Promoting a webinar?

What’s the secondary objective?

What’s the MINIMUM amount of content, links or calls-to-action needed to support your primarily and secondary objectives?

When you put too many choices on the page, your visitors will be confused. And the confused mind says “no”.

Is your Call-To-Action that supports your primary objective loud and clear? Or has it disappeared into a sea of content? If everything is screaming, nothing can be heard.

ABOUT PAGE

Your about page is not really about you. Your readers don’t care about your entire life story unless it is relevant to why and how you can help them.

Typically, your about page needs to (1) build a personal and emotional bridge so your readers can connect with YOU and trust you; and (2) share your experience to illustrate why you are qualified to help them and how you can do so.

Your about page needs to answer the question – why are YOU, as a PERSON, relevant to helping ME solve my problem?

Just listing out your trainings and certifications is not enough – what’s your journey? What’s your unique point of view that would make me want to work with you rather than the next gal?

BLOG POSTS

Your blog on your business website is not your personal journal. Write your articles with an objective in mind.

One big idea per article, one call-to-action per article.

What do you want the article to achieve for your business? What call-to-action will help you achieve this result?

Who are you writing for, and what do they need to know to take the intended action?

If you have the tendency to ramble, have the discipline to read and re-read your articles, and DELETE anything not essential to getting the point through. (note: read and re-read, but don’t get stuck in perfectionism. You need to hit that “publish” button.)

Run-on sentences? Break them down into 2-3 smaller chunks. Big jargon-y words? Find a plain English alternative.

Run your content through a readability score tool – a 7th grader should be able to comprehend your article.

Stop FOMO from driving your marketing communications:

Clarity – know your message, how it applies to your audience, and how to position it to get the point through

Awareness – catch yourself when you are having a verbal diarrhea, and admit it

Discernment – realize what is not in alignment, what is extraneous to getting the point through

Discipline – have the guts to not yield to FOMO and cut out what doesn’t serve the purpose of the communication

Midsized Company Marketing and Marketing Communications – Four Keys To Success in Today’s Market

“It’s a buyer’s market!” We seem to be hearing that everywhere these days, whether it’s for a consumer or business to business (B2B) product or service purchase, this economy has taught our customers a new way to purchase. And, with the plethora of new technology providing information sources to evaluate and compare a brand’s attributes and reputation before purchase, how we now market to our customers – both new and existing – represents a series of challenges.

As a B2B or consumer marketer in this new marketing environment, how marketing and marketing communications plans and tactics should be developed and employed is a dilemma for everyone. But it’s possible to overcome these challenges – here are four critical keys to success.

Know Your Target Audience
Knowing your target audience is a major priority. Like the management of many midsized companies, you probably think you know what your existing and potential customers want and believe about your brand. But do you really?

Before you spend your limited marketing dollars, isn’t it a better idea to use market research to determine – beyond price – what is most important to your target audience? And how they rate your product and its attributes compared to your competition?

Also, don’t forget to conduct research with your own employees and channel partners to find out how their opinions match up with your customer’s wants and needs. Employees and channel partners can be your best brand advocates, but they’ve got to be in sync with the priorities of your customers and prospects.

Investing marketing communications dollars to uncover and then promote what your customers actually want is key to improving your marketing ROI. The old adage, “Look Before You Leap”, has never been more true.

Value Both New and Traditional Media
Traditional media, such as print and broadcast advertising, events, direct mail and public relations, still remain very important marketing tools. But, becoming equally important, are blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, webinars, online videos, and a whole host of new media alternatives. All have value, and learning how to use them in concert is vital. But you must take the time to understand their relative effectiveness, not just their efficiency.

The question to address is which media mix of these marketing communications tactics to employ to keep existing customers, much less gain leads for new customers. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these tactics with your target audience presents some interesting challenges, and you have to be able to separate the myths from the facts. For example, did you know that:

  • 47 percent of Americans, between 50 and 64 years of age, are now actively using social media, up from 22 percent in April, 2009 (Pew Research);
  • Magazine readership has actually increased over the past five years, even in the 18 to 34 year old segment (MPS);
  • While U.S. advertising spending declined by 9 percent in 2009 to $117 billion, cable television advertising increased by 17 percent, and Spanish language television advertising increased by 32 percent (Media Reports);
  • Nearly two-thirds of consumers “value their direct mail”, but only 36 percent of marketers believe this – clearly a disconnect (USPS):
  • Retailers who post messages online have found that shorter posts (with fewer than 80 characters) receive 66 percent higher engagement that longer posts. And specific “dollars off” messages receive higher redemption than more general “percentage off”, “deal” or “bargain” phrases (Buddy Media).

Clearly, understanding the benefits of both traditional new media, especially for a midsized company with limited resources, is very important. Both are impactful, and finding the right mix for your business is another key to your success.

Participate in Content Marketing
Recently, there has been an explosion of content marketing to meet the demand for information by inquisitive buyers. Whether in the B2B or consumer marketing communities, existing and prospective customers have started looking to blogs, videos, articles, white papers and case studies to provide them with ongoing and fresh sources of information.

The depth of information now available to customers, and the speed at which it is available to them, when they want it, can raise brand awareness, improve reputation, develop qualified leads and achieve profitable sales engagement. It cannot be ignored. But there are issues. In a recent B2B Marketing Trends Survey Report from HiveFire, among nearly 400 marketing professionals:

  • Nearly 70 percent of content “curators” say lack of time hinders their efforts;
  • Two-thirds say a lack of original and quality content is a major disadvantage;
  • 37 percent say lack of expertise to do the work is a major problem, while a like number have difficulty in measuring ROI.

But, recognizing the importance of content marketing and addressing these problems could be another key to your success.

Don’t Go It Alone
Truly understanding your audience, learning about new as well as traditional media opportunities, and developing an impactful content marketing program represent major keys to improving your marketing and marketing communications ROI. But there’s more.

Probably a lot of smart thinking has already gone into creating your business strategy, plans and tactics. But, like most midsized companies, you may be understaffed and underfunded to make the changes to take advantage of these marketing tools in today’s environment. The solution – don’t go it alone.

Consider partnering with established senior level consultants to help you and your team develop, refine and implement your programs. Above all, look for consulting groups who are “media neutral”, and aren’t selling one particular marketing discipline. And be sure they have extensive experience across industries and brands, as well as a willingness to “tell it like it is”, so candor will flourish. And, happily, finding the right consulting partner to work with you could turn out to be the fourth key to your marketing success.

Why Integrated Marketing Communications is Essential for Small Businesses

How can Integrated Marketing Communications help me, the small business owner?

Integrated Marketing Communication is essential to small business owners because they, even more so than large corporations can not afford to misspend or waste money on a single isolated marketing effort.

For instance, as a small business owner, it may be tempting to focus on one aspect of marketing – a new website, a direct mail campaign, radio ads or as a manufacturer, simply letting your partners market for you. However, what happens if that one piece of marketing doesn’t work?

ANSWER: Your entire marketing effort fails.

Instead, wouldn’t it be great to have an integrated marketing plan that takes the best parts of online marketing such as websites, email newsletters, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click advertising and use that to make your traditional, offline efforts such as direct mail, advertising and public relations even more effective.

For instance, this may be as simple as making sure that your website has the same key words as your radio advertising and that your banners at the little league games also have the same message. To internalize a message, a person must be exposed to it several times. If you hit them three times with three different messages it is nearly the same as being exposed only once. Even worse, it could be confusing and disorienting, resulting in a negative experience with your brand.

Integrated Marketing Communications addresses this issue by creating a plan with a consistent message and then delivering it through as many media as possible, online and offline.

What are the components of an integrated marketing plan?

An Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) plan should draw from all communications disciplines available, including online, offline, and interpersonal.

Online marketing channels include any e-marketing campaigns or programs, from search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click, affiliate, email, banner to latest web related channels for webinar, blog, RSS, podcast, and Internet TV. Offline marketing channels are traditional print (newspaper, magazine), mail order, public relation, billboard, radio, and television. Interpersonal marketing includes participating in community groups, networking organizations, your handshake, how you dress, and even how you answer the phone or return calls.

While not every communication discipline needs to be included for each campaign, it is important for any integrated marketing practitioner to be well versed in the various components so that he or she can select the ones most appropriate for a specific client’s budget and demands.

Is it better to go with an agency, or shop for individual services myself?

While both have benefits, an agency can be a benefit if you don’t already have a network of trusted service providers including printers, promotional products companies, tradeshow planners etc. who are familiar with your business. Often times, an agency can get things done for a client faster, more efficiantly and with better quality for the same or lower price. Plus, as a business owner you have to factor in the time you may spend shopping for the best price and reading reviews to make sure that the best price doesn’t give you the worst services.

However, the cost of each component shouldn’t be your primary concern when evaluating an integrated marketing plan. Instead, look at the expense and benefits of the entire plan working together. For instance, a website might cost $2,000 to build and then you might spend $10,000 in pay-per-click advertising over the next year, but if the content on the website doesn’t match the message on your direct mail, or your customer service people aren’t able to answer questions about the website then you wasted a lot of money.

Instead, don’t look at the website as a single entity. Make sure that it is perfectly integrated into your marketing strategy:

* Promote it at all opportunities. This includes not just pay-per-click ads, but also on business cards, in radio ads, even place a sticker on your products letting customers know they can download copies of the product manuals there, and print it on your receipts telling customers to download coupons on the website.

* Develop an email newsletter to offer your customers and prospective customers news and information they can use – not just a brochure to sell your products.

* Create a blog and allow people to subscribe to it. This will build trust and familiarity between your customers and your company. Don’t limit blog posts to just the president, sometimes a post from a project manager or even the receptionist can keep the blog interesting and attention grabbing.

* Create a contest – but make sure the message is consistent with your integrated marketing strategy. Have people visit your website to enter.

* If you run an advertisement promoting a specific service, make sure that that your customers can find more information about it quickly and easily. Perhaps even put a graphic at the top of your page saying “Attention 99.5 listeners, Click Here to Learn More about Gutter Cleaning”

Those are just some examples for how you can integrate your marketing plan and maximize the initial investment you made by building a website.

Isn’t an an integrated marketing communication just like any other marketing plan?

A marketing plan can be just a marketing plan for a website, or a marketing plan for an advertising campaign, but an Integrated Marketing Communications plan involves all aspects of marketing, across the entire company. This means that you are integrated all aspects of the company into a single cohesive plan.

After all you could have a great website marketing plan, an awesome advertising campaign and an award winning PR agency, but if a customer reads a press release or hears your ad and decides to visit your website where he can’t find more info about your PR or advertising message what’s the point of spending the money in the first place?