Making the Most of Your Marketing Communications

From a marketing communications perspective, the conventional wisdom used to be “throw some money at advertising and marketing to create awareness and sales will follow”. Marketers were more interested in building awareness and brand recognition and there was no linkage between sales and marketing. Lots of assumptions were made and there was little accountability.

All that has changed. Now sales and marketing are inextricably linked and it’s all about return on investment — ROI. Marketing budgets are now scrutinized to squeeze the most value out of media plans and PR activities. So how do you get good ROI from your marcom budget when you’re trying to reach a specific target market with information about your product or service?

ROI in marketing communications is all about taking the time to really understand who you are trying to reach and what it is that they really want. It also requires finding the most cost-effective way to reach that very specific target audience. No longer can the strategy be spray and pray, identifying the largest trade magazines and industry websites in your market and then hitting the biggest audience with a general message, assuming that you’re going to benefit from trickle down. Traditional vehicles like on- and off-line trade publications are suffering from some of their lowest advertising revenue in years, which translates into reduced readership and effectiveness. So, despite some very attractive deals out there, chances are industry trade publication advertising right now doesn’t offer very good ROI.

Identify your target customer accurately.

So what do you do? You practice something called guerrilla marketing. You find multiple, more focused ways to reach a highly qualified, targeted audience. And you start by doing your homework on who you really want to reach. For example, don’t say your target audience is engineers. Go that extra mile to confirm that the person you really want to talk to is the senior design engineer who’s driving specifications for board-level components. Target, target, target.

Now you can concentrate on how to most effectively reach your highly qualified target. Because you’ve selectively reduced the audience to a critical few, think about generating case studies, white papers, and press releases containing relevant keywords and specific “long-tail” search terms that potentially would be used by your target customer, with helpful industry links as well as appropriate anchor text and links to landing pages within your own website. Then make sure you have more complete, relevant information on your landing pages and an interactive contact form that enables them to query you and provide some details on what they really need.

Keyword every page in your site using those long-tail terms specific to your niche; for example, instead of a generic keyword such as “fabric”, use “waterproof, ripstop fabric.” Ten well-qualified leads are much more valuable than a hundred less-than-qualified leads.

Tweak your web site to contain a wide range of links out to appropriate trade pubs and industry or trade association websites, and try to get them to post a link to yours on theirs. All these things cost very little money, yet they can go a long way toward creating visibility for your company and product or service.

Use social media wisely.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding social media networking these days. One thing that is true, though, is that a thoughtful, appropriate presence on major sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can boost your visibility and help you open conversations with potential customers.

If you don’t have an account with these social media, get one. Join relevant professional groups on LinkedIn and start discussions there (almost every major industry has at least several professional groups on LinkedIn). Start a company blog and Facebook page, get a Twitter account, and have your comments posted automatically to all three (they all have mechanisms that enable, say, a LinkedIn comment posting to appear automatically on your Twitter page). There are lots of helpful, easy-to-find blogs, websites, and consultants that can help you explore social media networking more fully.

Five tips for achieving marketing communications ROI:

Know your target customer

Do your homework and research who REALLY would buy your product or service. Avoid generic job titles or descriptions as much as possible and try to drill down to the job responsibilities and purchasing needs of the person you’re trying to reach.

Hone your message

Focus on customer pain – the thing or things that really present a challenge to your potential customer and that your product or service will “cure”. Avoid the trite and hackneyed and communicate with clarity. Talk about what concerns your potential customer, not your company.

Disseminate your message creatively

Don’t blindly rely on traditional methods that may or may not work for your specific circumstances and in these economic times. Seek alternative methods, such as using social media networking and free article directory sites to post industry-related comments, key-worded case studies and press releases that can be found by industry bloggers and e-publications looking for content.

Find ways to “get found”

Generate case studies, abstracts, and articles that can become search-optimized content for industry publications, all pointing back to you. Make sure your website is updated regularly to include new and better content and links for increased visibility. Foster online relationships with industry marketplaces, trade journal sites, and professional organizations. Position yourself as an industry expert — line up speaking engagements and conduct seminars, webinars, and podcasts where possible.

Repeat

Once you find the right mix of message and media, repeat as often as possible. Stay on-message and on-target by producing key-worded content on a regular basis for outside publication and your own website. Create new content more easily by expanding upon previously-covered topics and updating older pieces with new information.

Good ROI for your marketing communications efforts comes from doing your homework, understanding what you’re trying to accomplish, and setting goals. Do this, and you can sleep easy, knowing your marketing communications program is working as hard as it possibly can.

A Small Or Midsized Company Marketing Communications Audit – Improving ROI For The Year Ahead

With another new year approaching, you’re probably even more concerned than usual – because of the sluggish economic growth, turbulent financial markets, unknown fallout from Brexit, and the exhausting and uncertain election season. Rest assured, your customers, prospects and employees are probably as concerned as you are.

These concerns will in many cases retard or even halt decision making and commitment to a variety of programs. In fact, the August CEO Confidence Index from Chief Executive Magazine, reflecting opinions on “future business conditions”, is near its lowest level since January, 2015.

As a marketer in a B2C, B2B or nonprofit organization, developing and implementing your new marketing and marketing communications strategy, plan, budget and tactics probably seems even more unnerving than in previous years. And the time to commit your resources – money, time and people – is rapidly approaching.

In the midst of all this doom and gloom are there any rays of sunshine? We believe there are, and recommend that now is the perfect time to take a step back and consider a more thorough evaluation of your program through the use of a marketing communications audit.

A Marketing Communications Audit Improves ROI

If you haven’t recently (or ever) conducted an audit, now may be a crucial time to do so before committing your already stretched resources. Like a financial audit, this process will provide an objective, professional picture of your current situation.

It will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing program as a whole, as well as how each communications tactic and message does or does not contribute to your objectives, strategy, budget and ROI.

The audit can provide a meaningful analysis of both your internal and external tactics and messaging, creative approach, subject matter, media mix, and budget allocation. Importantly, it will also provide an understanding of what is registering with your customers, prospects and employees versus what they really want to know about your brand.

Ultimately, the audit will provide an understanding of what needs to be improved, along with an actionable integrated roadmap of how to achieve your goals – how specific messages should be delivered across all forms of traditional and new media, as well as events, promotions, public relations, packaging and employee communications. The end results of this type of audit can significantly improve your marketing communications ROI now and well into the future. It will also provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your have developed a plan based on increased rigor and professionalism.

Marketing Communications Consultants Can Really Help

Most probably, you’ve already put a lot of hard work into developing your marketing and marketing communications plan. And, even if you believe that an audit would be a prudent way to go, you might not be confident that your internal staff has the time, energy or skill set to provide a thorough and in-depth audit at this time. Fresh eyes and apolitical candor from outside consultants might be just what you and your already stretched team might need.

Consider tapping into established, media neutral consultants, with broad experience across industries, companies and nonprofits, both large and small, who are willing to “tell it like it is” so candor will flourish. Don’t settle for a consultant with experience in only your niche or industry, selling only one particular discipline. And be sure they’re analytically driven, willing to test their measurements against the real world. This is the time to take a broad view of your business and opportunities, not to rely on “this is the way we’ve always done it”

Improving your ROI for the year ahead is always an important goal; it’s even more important this year with the increased uncertainties facing all of us. Fresh and apolitical evaluation and measurement of your program makes a lot of sense. As W. Edwards Deming, the father of modern quality management techniques, said, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

Difference Between Event Marketing and Integrated Marketing Communication

All businesses need communication to develop, prosper and create relationships. In fact, communication is so vital for the success of any business. You may have excellent products but if the external and internal communications are not strong, your business will experience a decline. IMC or integrated marketing communications offer an approach whereby there is a consistent message put across to buyers during a promotion that can include different media types.

Utilizing Events to Drive IMC

When you receive a sampling of free coffee, you are actually experiencing the new product and you could be a potential buyer. Therefore, event marketing is nothing but spreading recognition of a product at a social event. Consumers today, resort to multiple sources of information; businesses are realizing the ineffectiveness of depending on advertisements alone, hence, the importance of IMC is becoming apparent. Well-planned and focused integrated campaigns depend on digital media, advertising, social networking and live events to effectively move and engage potential buyers through sales. In today’s competitive business scenario, organizations are looking at integrated marketing in order to have a cost-effective and efficient approach. The main difference between promoting or marketing using events is that an event offers chances for individual interaction with a product. Therefore, it is clear that a group of consumers and media meeting at one place can effectively use multiple disciplines to achieve a common objective. Hence, events can drive IMC.

Events Open Doors for Products

Event marketing spreads awareness of a product at social events. There is constant competition to catch the attention of a product using the print and visual media. However, when you try to create recognition at a social gathering, you can engage the potential buyer in a better way and help him experience the product personally. Unlike the print media and televisions, events are fun and participatory. Often, this will translate prospective consumers into buyers. It makes your marketing effort cost-effective. Corporate groups use events extensively; they also sponsor events making the objective of marketing less obvious. Well-planned occasions can become regular local attractions.

Basic Tools of IMC

If companies plan, communicate and follow industry guidelines ethically, they can earn customer trust. The basic tools of integrated marketing communications are as follows. Advertising is the age-old form of marketing that can reach a large audience effectively. Sales promotions are used to encourage repeat buying and to speed up short-term sales. Public relations, another IMC tool is carried out through press releases, public appearances or sponsorships. Direct marketing uses catalogs, emails and mails and other marketing techniques to launch new products. Finally, there is personal selling wherein presentations, sales appointments and other type of personal communications are established to reach customers and to strengthen relationships.