The Art & Science of Marketing Communications

There’s a good chance that you’ve come across the term “marketing communications”, if you work in a reasonably large organization. In our present day and age, most organizations have a division that deals with marketing communications. It is often referred to as corporate communications and product marketing.

Marketing communications is the art and science of communicating information that enables a company to market its products or services better. I know that this definition sounds really simple, but it rarely simple in reality. This is because it conceals more than it reveals. It also makes the role appear to be simple and straightforward. However, in today’s world marketing communications is one of the most complex fields of business.

It is not difficult to fathom the reason for this term’s complexity because it only works in an evolved marketplace. Its complexity depends on how advanced or developed the marketplace itself is. The last promotional e-mail that you got in your inbox is a good example. Promotional emails usually come embedded with action scripts, flash, cookies and a whole lot of other high technology wizardry. This method is the best practices in marketing communications at work.

Your usage patterns are being monitored so that businesses can determine whether you will click on the links in the e-mail. They can further track your activities when you reach the landing page if you click on the links. How long you stay online, which pages you visit, what lengths of time you spend on those pages and which products you are specifically interested in, are patterns that will also be monitored. This information will then be sent back to the centralized server. Adept marketing communications professionals will use the data to structure their next communication to you.

All communication in the present world has moved towards being measurable and marketing communications is no exception. It is proving to be an invaluable tool for the modern day marketer because it is being measurable, traceable and result oriented.

Can One Kind of Marketing Communications Survive on Its Own?

Marketing Communications is a very important aspect in every brand’s marketing strategy. For any kind of strategy can’t survive without it being communicated to the target market. As you plan for which strategy you are going to use, bear in mind that one strategy can’t survive without the other. There is a mix that you need to consider so that you can get the full benefits of your marketing communications strategy.

Take for example your company’s website. You need to have it optimized so that you can get the kind of traffic that you want in your site. You may opt to have a blog that could serve as a place for you and your market to stay and talk. You should always remember that you have to be able to talk to the people who matter to you – your consumers. It is a very important that you be able to give them the kind of information that they want and the kind of information that they see as relevant for their needs. Create a strategy that would be able to influence their thinking and make them realize about some issues that matter to them. Your strategy should be able to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question.

Your consumers are like normal people who would always want to know how they could benefit from your product. By making them aware of your existence and letting them know that choosing your product over the other would be beneficial for them then you have better chances of capturing your target market. If you are not able to communicate this information to your market, how then can you convince him to try your product out.

Getting to know your market cannot be emphasized enough. Know who they are and what makes them tick and you are well on your way to improving your brand standing.

Optimizing your site should make you link with others. The internet is a vast expanse wherewith you can meet your market and your potential market as well. So don’t be content with just having a website, but make sure that your site is being linked to sites with the same market in mind. Visit blogs and forums and drop relevant comments. Make the people see that your brand is intelligent and worthy of their patronage.

Remember that marketing communications isn’t only about having an online campaign. There are a lot of other aspects that goes with it. You branding strategy is a part of it, your product design, packaging and promotion among others. So as you can see, it is a really big task that you need to focus on each strategy little by little. It is a proven fact that using only one way of communicating will not work. You need everything to work together and be united. Whatever element of your marketing communications you would use, think about it as a part of a greater whole.

Integrated Marketing Communications – 5 Primary Communication Tools

Communication is always one of the most important and vital strategic areas of an organization’s success. You can have the best or most innovative products or services, but if your internal and external communications are weak, then the demand for your products or services raises a personal flag of concern. When communicating the value of your products or services, you want to focus on how they will benefit your clients.

When planning your strategy for Integrated Marketing Communication or IMC, you want to have dialogue with your customers by inviting interaction through the coordinated efforts of content, timing and delivery of your products or services. By ensuring direction, clarity, consistency, timing and appearance of your messages, conveyed to your targeted audience, these factors will help avoid any confusion about the benefits of your brand, through the connection of instant product recognition.

When looking at your marketing mix, you’re examining price, distribution, advertising and promotion, along with customer service. Integrated marketing communication is part of that marketing mix included in your marketing plan. IMC strategies define your target audience, establishes objectives and budgets, analyzes any social, competitive, cultural or technological issues, and conducts research to evaluate the effectiveness of your promotional strategies.

If companies are ethically planning, communicating, and following industry guidelines, they will most likely earn the trust of their customers and target audience. There are five basic tools of integrated marketing communication:

1. Advertising:
This tool can get your messages to large audiences efficiently through such avenues as radio, TV, Magazines, Newspapers (ROP), Internet, Billboards and other mobile technological communication devices. This method can efficiently reach a large number of consumers, although the costs may be somewhat expensive.

2. Sales Promotion:
This tool is used through coupons, contests, samples, premiums, demonstrations, displays or incentives. It is used to accelerate short-term sales, by building brand awareness and encouraging repeat buying.

3. Public Relations:
This integrated marketing communications tool is initiated through public appearances, news/press releases or event sponsorships, to build trust and goodwill by presenting the product, company or person in a positive light.

4. Direct Marketing:
This tool will utilized email, mail, catalogs, encourage direct responses to radio and TV, in order to reach targeted audiences to increase sales and test new products and alternate marketing tactics.

5. Personal Selling:
Setting sales appointments and meetings, home parties, making presentations and any type of one-to-one communication, to reach your customers and strengthen your relationship with your clients, initiate this IMC tool.

Decisions linking the overall objectives and strategies during the marketing planning phases help to evaluate and fine-tune the specific activities of integrated marketing communication. Before selecting an IMC tool, marketing, product and brand managers must look at social, competitive, legal, regulatory, ethics, cultural and technological considerations. One thing you want to avoid when activating the tools of integrated marketing communication is reaching inappropriate audiences and causing controversy. That could be damaging when trying to build brand awareness and encourage consumer spending with your company. When marketing managers examine the beliefs, emotions and behavior of their targeted audience towards their brand, they can influence their beliefs to achieve product awareness, by attracting attention to their promotional campaigns.

Improving Marketing and Marketing Communications – A Midsized Company Dilemma

You’ve slashed expenses and reduced investments to deliver your current profitability. But your sales growth is marginal at best, and you know this is not a sustainable model.

You’re not alone. According to Frost & Sullivan’s CEO Choice Growth Survey, ninety-three percent of Chief Executive Officers consider “growth” their number one objective over the next five years. And with an ever increasing need to use the latest “sales deal-of-the-day” to meet quarterly goals, you know you can’t profitably continue this course much longer. Further, and perhaps of even greater importance, marketing budgets have also been cut drastically, impacting brand value for the short, as well as long, term.

One tactic you should consider to begin “righting the ship” is to invest in and improve marketing and marketing communications to grow both the top and bottom lines. But where to begin? How to do this? Using which marketing tools? And with whom?

Understand The Changing Marketing Environment
First, you must recognize that there is a changing marketing environment. Businesses and consumers are learning to “do more with less”, while also having less time to evaluate choices and make purchase decisions.

Therefore, the most fundamental change revolves around one word – trust.

With all that has happened, people distrust not just the most traditional of institutions – banks – but business in total. According to a survey by Edelman, only 44 percent of Americans said they trusted business in the Summer of 2009, down from 58 percent in the Fall of 2007. Whether you’re a b-to-c, b-to-b, or even a nonprofit, how you act and communicate in this environment is vital to your success.

As a first step, employ market research. You probably think you know everything about your existing and potential customers but, other than price, are you really sure you know what’s important to them? And do you know what factors are critical to their purchase decisions, and how much trust they place on you to deliver versus your competition? And with downsizing affecting everyone, and new faces in many positions, what do your new purchasers and prospects know about you to begin with? It’s time to find out.

And these changes are taking place not just in the outside world. Your internal corporate environment has changed as well. With already stretched marketing and sales departments, are the leads generated by marketing actually being followed up by sales? A recent study by the Kern Organization estimates that up to 80 percent of b-to-b leads are not followed up by sales, and only 13 percent are followed up in the first 90 days. Why? Because sales doesn’t trust the leads from marketing as being qualified.

Whether you’re a $35 million organization or a $350 million organization, without recognizing and developing solutions to meet the needs of a fundamentally changed environment, your growth and brand will stagnate.

The economy may improve and help you, but it most probably will also help your competitors as well. So, now is the time to get an edge on them by improving your marketing and marketing communications.

Determine Your Best Marketing Mix And Measure It
There isn’t any boilerplate answer to determine which marketing communications disciplines to employ, much less whether your brand position is right for today’s marketplace. But there are steps you should take to answer these questions.

Focus your attention on being media neutral or at least find advisors who are, and are seasoned professionals with broad experience across industries and companies who don’t have a vested interest in promoting a particular marketing communications discipline.

And recognize that all of the hard work that goes into today’s marketing and marketing communications needs to be measured to make sure you’re on the right track. Find an individual or company that really understands analytics and what it means for the future.

Which Media To Employ – New Or Traditional
The next question is how to effectively and efficiently reach these customers and prospects. Professional marketers have spent countless hours addressing this; take advantage of their knowledge and expertise.

For example, your website is probably heavily branded, but did you know that less than ten percent of your visitors will actually click through to see the important message you’re putting out there?

You’re probably sending out email newsletters, and may even be blogging and tweeting to your important audiences. But, when was the last time you handed something to your customer or prospect, and looked them in the eye? There’s no question that webinars, for example, are effective and cost efficient, but what about in-person events, seminars and trade shows?

Much of today’s marketing dilemma is appropriately focused on media fragmentation and the resulting difficulty of efficiently and effectively reaching a prospect. Newspapers and magazines are clearly losing ground, but they’re still important channels of reaching certain demographics (such as the ever growing older demographic). Contrast that with the fact that the fastest growing segment on Facebook is women, aged 55 to 65.

Determining which media alternatives to use to reach any key marketing or demographic segment means that you have to consider both efficiency and effectiveness. Traditional media and social media should be able to co-exist in your marketing communications plans. It’s just a question of when and where to use them.

The Marketing Communications End Game
Which leads us to the ultimate dilemma – how to obtain and evaluate the creative work that will impact and move your customers and prospects. Recognize that whether you use television, radio or billboards, or emails, blogs, Facebook or tweets, they are only tools to deliver your message. The strategic thinking and outright “creativity” that you employ with these tools will ultimately determine your success.

Look for strategic and creative partners, with demonstrated ability; people who are genuinely interested in profitably increasing your sales, not just trying to garner the latest industry awards.

There is much to think about, especially for a mid-sized company. The dilemma is trying to understand what to do, how to do it, and finding people you trust to help you accomplish this. But, standing still clearly isn’t the answer.

Find a senior professional, or group of professionals, whom you can trust, who can not only improve your marketing ROI but will also be willing to help you evaluate your on-going marketing communications efforts.

Don’t try to go it alone.