Marketing Communications

Marketing communications is referred to as the messages and the media used to relate those messages to the market. There are many ways in which you can communicate with the market namely through personal selling, sales promotion, public relations, publicity, advertising, direct marketing and so on. In this article, we shall look at a few of these methods.

Personal selling

Personal selling is referred to as a means of selling the product to the consumer personally. It was much easier to sell products in the last century than it is now. The basic philosophy of the seller is to sell products not as a peddler but as a consultant. For this, personal selling has become a viable tool as companies manipulate the emotion of the consumer to make them buy products.

Sales Promotion

This is a way in which the sale of a product can be increased. In this type of marketing communication, both the media as well as the non media are involved. Their goal is to increase the demand of the consumers, increase the number of products or stimulate the demand of the market within a limited predetermined amount of time. Some examples of sales promotion can be contest, rebate, free flights and even “point of purchase” displays.

Public Relations

This involves the managing of relations between a company and its customers. Public relations involve activities on the part of the company that do not directly lead to payment from its customers or the public. Some examples of public relations include press conferences, speaking in public meetings and communication with the employees.

The difference between Public Relations and Advertising is that while advertising has some tangible output, public relations is non tangible.

Publicity

It is a means of promotion. It is through this means of marketing communication that companies attempt to manipulate the perception the public has of a particular brand. Publicity is generally done through some celebrity like a film star or politician. Services and goods and even works of entertainment and art and different organisations are also used for the purpose of publicity.

Advertising

This is a form of marketing communication that involves two things. Firstly it includes the name of the service or the product and secondly, it narrates the benefit the product will give to the consumer. The main goal of advertising is to persuade a person to buy a product. Mass production has had a very important role behind the development of advertising. Advertising came to rise in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Direct Marketing

This is a relatively new type of marketing which involves looking for people within the target, and then communicating to them the details of the product.

There are two things that differentiate it from other types of marketing. The first thing is that it attempt to sell products directly to consumers. It does not use forms of media as an intervention to reach to its consumers. The second thing is that it rests on a “call to action” mechanism. This means that it stresses on the positive responses from the consumer, whatever be the medium.

How to Bolster Advertising Success Through Integrated Marketing Communication

There was a time when mass marketing your skills and expertise was enough to secure a steady stream of work. Those days are over. The shotgun approach simply doesn’t deliver the results you need. You must take careful aim at your intended target. That’s where integrated marketing communications takes its bow.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road. More than 75% of companies with three hundred plus employees have embraced the doctrine of Integrated Marketing Communications and small to medium size companies are rapidly following suit. To make Integrated Marketing Communications part of your corporate identity requires a strong commitment from senior management coupled with a basic vision. With commitment and vision, you can put market resources in place.

Your Customer Database. Start developing a successful program by analyzing your database. See just what different customers require and respond to. Do extensive profiling and segmentation of your customers. Understand them. Know their buying habits. Then focus on specific customers and prospects who use your services. This customer-driven approach is cost effective and delivers better results. You discover who your prime prospects are in order to tailor communications to their special needs.

Integrate marketing and sales. Use your new insights to shape marketing, sales, and communication strategies. Encourage those in sales to attend strategy meetings. They have their eyes and ears in the marketplace. Invite everyone in your company to make contributions and become involved.

Differentiate yourself from the competition. If there are no real differences, create perceived differences. Develop a customer contact strategy. Build long-term relationships with customers you already have. It is five to eight times more expensive to obtain a new client than maintain an existing one.

Pick a Judge. Someone must take responsibility for judging and evaluating what’s going on. Don’t do things simply because they’ve always been done that way. Integrated Marketing Communications is about twenty-first century selling and marketing. It offers the promise of increasing success.

Get the Word Out. What tactics should you implement? There are a multitude of vehicles you can use. Advertising is the most popular vehicle. However, it may not be so effective for service-oriented businesses. Consider trade shows, direct mail, and public relations. Disseminate your message through sales promotions, telemarketing and websites. You may find multimedia presentations and special events add strength to your communication, too.

Participate in Social Media. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ning and countless other online resources offer unbridled potentials for reaching prospects you are looking. Use the research you have done through Integrated Marketing Communication to identify who you want target via social media.

Doing all these things will be in vain if you do not track the responses you get. The responses are there to evaluate. Analyze the feedback. Use it continually to shape your database. It will help you on the next go ’round.

The Queen’s Sombrero and Marketing Communication

If you have not taken the time to sit back and think about how much marketing communications has changed, you should. The changes are astounding from Dallas to New Delhi, and the rules have changed significantly from even five years ago. One important change is the actual decentralization of marketing communications and publishing.

The days are over when only the Forbes and the Hearsts published business and consumer material. Today, everyone that is pushing written material through the various Internet channels is a publisher. That means you. When you are not in the role of the soccer mom or proud papa posting pictures of little Bobby on Instagram, or exclaiming your pride that Susie made the cheerleading squad on Facebook, you should most likely be following more formal rules when communicating as your role and audience are most likely very different. You’re wearing a different hat.

When you are not tweeting about the family, or posting some anecdotal story online, more than likely you are publishing business and professional information such as marketing communication. And, the hat you wear is different, the rules are different and operations should be different. When you are publishing business communication, remember these rules:

1. Wear the right hat. Remember you are not writing poetry or posting a personal status when you are writing professionally. You are communicating as a professional to other professionals. And, with that comes some formality in your style and execution. That is not to say you cannot write business communication with expression and catchy headlines. In fact, marketing communication sometimes requires that. It simply means, when you are communicating professionally, you need to remember your audience, and your professional role and credibility should be as evident in your style and presentation as well as your content.

2. Don’t co-mingle professional and personal communication. Your friends on Facebook are different than fans on your fan page. Have a personal Facebook page for communicating with your BFF, and have a separate Facebook page (fan page) for your professional communication and content. The same holds true for blogs. There are professional blogs, and then there are personal blogs. They do not mix.

3. Use professional vehicles for your professional communication. In this day and age, you should have a professional website for your business operations, period. Costs now are simply low enough these day as to not be an issue. And, you should have a professional email address (or addresses) attached to it. You lose credibility when you communicate to a potential customer or client from a generic Yahoo email address. For little or no cost (depending on your hosting platform), you can obtain a professional email address with your company’s name attached. Always communication using professional platforms and vehicles when you are publishing professional communication – including emails.

Just remember, business is business, including when you are publishing marketing communication, or any other professional material for that matter. One hat does not fit all. Case in point: Queen Elizabeth wears a lot of hats. But, you would never see her wearing a sombrero to an investiture at Westminster Abbey. Just saying…

Midsized Company 2015 Marketing Communications Forecasts

Developing marketing communications strategies and plans presents a challenge every year, but 2015 seems especially problematic. While 2015 should be a good year for business in general, we believe that most B2B, B2C and nonprofit marketers should still be prepared for a bumpy ride.

Most financial advisors expect the stock market to keep gaining, and most projections assume modest GDP growth and low inflation. Even Madison Avenue predicts advertising spending to increase by 4.8 to 5.0 percent. So what’s the problem?

Well, the average American’s earnings haven’t risen in more than six years. Cheap money in the financial markets will limit corporate acquisitions. And political and economic unrest around the world continue to be major unknowns.

Marketing Communications Considerations For 2015

In discussions with clients, prospects and colleagues, my takeaway has led to the following ten forecasts for 2015:

  1. The tax deductibility of advertising investment is at great risk. As forecast last year, Congress is still considering putting a limit on the 100 percent deductibility of advertising in a single year. One potential in-coming Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee has already told advertisers that he’ll consider a proposal deducting advertising spending over a five to ten year period rather than just one. If or when this passes, it will have a huge impact on budget planning.
  2. There will be a much deeper and expanded look at the use of “Big Data” as a means of improving customer service, responsiveness, product development and measurement of social media. Fully understanding the “wants and needs” of customers and prospects will take center stage. Analytics will rule, and so will savvy analysts.
  3. There will be increased pressure on proving and improving marketing communications ROI. Evaluating each tactic employed (in traditional or new media) and how each contributes to the overall marketing program is a necessity for profitable growth. Professional and apolitical measurement will be a must.
  4. Outsourced consultants and staff will continue to grow in importance. Companies and nonprofits will continue to pursue a work-as-needed strategy, as opposed to full-time employment. By 2020, these “guns for hire” will comprise forty percent of the U.S. workforce. Now is the time to identify and evaluate these people who you will be so dependent on in the future.
  5. Companies and nonprofits will increasingly focus on internal communications. Employees are as much of a legitimate marketing asset as the product or service itself. Making every employee a marketer and true brand ambassador is becoming a priority. Be sure to make every meeting or internal function a brand building platform. And, above all, keep monitoring your employees’ opinion of the brand.
  6. Small and startup company entrepreneurs will realize that – to be successful – they will require a lot more than just their “big idea”. Building a profitable brand is team sport. And using marketing and marketing communications as part of your team will get you the leverage you need to turn an idea into a sustainable brand.
  7. More emphasis will be placed on marketing to older adults. A recent Nielsen study points out that by 2017 American boomers will control 70 percent of the country’s disposable income. And, according to Forrester Research, the 28 million people over 55 years of age buy twice as much online as do younger adults. In fact, the millennial generation has even less money to spend than did their counterparts of previous generations. However, new approaches will be needed. Marketing to boomers (and older) is a lot different than marketing to 18 – 34 year olds.
  8. The Yahoo-Bing Network (YBN) will grow in importance. Currently, 70 percent of the people who search business and financial service categories on YBN (17 million people) do not search these categories on Google. YBN now represents 29 percent of U.S. search volume (149 million unique searches/month), and the searchers themselves skew towards older, better educated and wealthier people.
  9. Being media neutral in your marketing decisions will become even more important. A recent Gallup study among 18,000 consumers reported that 62 percent said social media had “no influence at all on their buying decision”, while only 5 percent said “it had a great deal of influence”. And, reading between the lines on the importance of traditional media, Advertising Age projected an increase of 48 percent in event spending, 34 percent direct mail, 6 percent in radio and 4 percent in television. Make sure you understand the difference between efficiency and effectiveness for both new and traditional media.
  10. Considerably more time and effort will be spent on improving creative messaging. As competition increases, more effort will be placed on determining what customers and prospects want to know about a brand – fact, not opinion. More respect will then be given to the resulting creative product, regardless of media, to make sure it’s authentic, relevant and timely. As Tom Bradley, head of marketing at Nestle, 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.”

Obviously, there are many other areas worthy of prognostication and discussion (e.g., Facebook’s decline, the rise of native advertising, fraudulent clicking on digital ads, the importance of marketing to women and Hispanics, etc.), but the forecasts discussed above seem to have greater impact on marketing communications in 2015. The question then becomes what to do about them.

Consider Fresh Eyes From Marketing Communication Consultants

Another recent study from Forrester Research reports that 34 percent of marketers currently feel overwhelmed by change. And, unfortunately, most companies and nonprofits don’t have the financial or intellectual resources to deal with the challenges in either the short or long term.

If this hits home, now many be the time to tap into established, experienced, consultants. Look for people with broad industry and brand experience, across organizations large and small. Candor should flourish. Most of all, make you future better than your past.