Businesses don’t become successful by chance. They do diligent research in order to create effective marketing campaigns. This allows them to break into new markets, establish a presence, and become a go-to source for customers.
An effective promotional campaign driven by a rock-solid marketing communications strategy helps make this connection. However, it takes some planning to get started. You’ll need to reflect on your brand and its goals, your optimal customers and their habits, and the current trends in your industry. You’ll also need to remain flexible enough to adjust your strategy as you go based on what works and what doesn’t.
The Make-Up of Marketing Communications
So what does marketing communications entail, exactly? The simple answer is anything and everything you do to bring the message about your products or services to the world. The point of marketing is to generate awareness surrounding your brand and turn that attention into sales. In order to do this effectively, you’ll need a well-thought-out strategy that includes these three elements:
- What you want to convey to your followers, customers, and supporters. Examples are a new product launch or a limited-time sale.
- How you plan to deliver this message. This may include direct email marketing, social media platforms, TV commercials, or print ads.
- Who you identify as the people most likely to be interested in your brand. You may want to target school teachers in New York or married couples aged 35 to 50.
These three elements make up the skeleton of your marketing plan, and they also influence one another within your strategy. If you know exactly who you want to reach, how you want to reach them, and what you want to say, then you’re in good shape.
If you had a hard time answering these questions, it’s not a problem. Just keep them in mind as you read on and learn how to create your own marketing communications strategy.
Creating a Strategy That Works
Now that you know what goes into an integrated marketing communications strategy, it’s time to learn how to create one that actually works. Large corporations and established businesses have entire departments dedicated to market research, strategy, and implementation, and even then it still takes a trial-and-error process to develop the perfect campaign. A solid plan helps marketers stay organized and informed as they adjust their strategy as needed.
Recognize Your Audience
While you probably want to reach as many people as possible with your message, you should focus your marketing efforts on people who are already looking for what you have to offer. Consider what your company does and who it can help the most, and then find which groups of people best fit that profile. Those people will be the most receptive to a campaign.
Another way to determine who comprises your target audience is to look at the sales you’ve already made. What types of people already buy your products? Consider what those customers have in common—aside from buying your products—to find out what drives them to you. Find out what platforms these people use and determine the best way to reach them. Also, don’t be afraid to look into who is buying from your competition and why they’ve made that choice.
Demographics vs. Psychographics
The group of people most likely to be interested in your company is typically referred to as your target demographic. However, it also pays to look at psychographics, which are slightly different.
Demographics are factors like
- Marital Status
Psychographics relate to:
- Beliefs and Values
You can use both demographics and psychographics to narrow your focus and identify a core group of target buyers.
Choose the Right Marketing Channels
If you have a good idea of who you’re marketing to, deciding exactly how to market becomes a whole lot easier. Young people are receptive to social media marketing through apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. Retired people and young children are more likely to catch daytime television ads. Decide which marketing channels to use based on the tendencies of your target audience. Knowing which channels they use most will help you get the greatest amount of exposure in the most relevant markets.
Once you’ve found an appropriate channel, consider what would be the most effective way of using it. Marketers are finding new ways to promote brands every day. Your campaign might include some combination of offline advertising, video or email marketing, or even sponsorships and product placement.
Find Relevant Influencers
A little boost from the outside can go a long way, and online influencers can provide it. When someone else shares your promotional materials, you get exposure to their network. If you develop a partnership with the right influencers, you can fast-track your company into bigger markets and create ongoing relationships.
Anyone with a big enough following can be considered an online influencer. Since everything they post publicly on social media will be viewed by a large audience, this creates an opportunity for advertising. Sometimes this is even more effective than expensive TV spots because all of the influencer’s followers have something in common already—they follow the influencer’s account.
Search for influencers who may be interested in your product or service and would be willing to get your name out there. It doesn’t hurt to reach out to huge celebrities, but they’re less likely to share their spotlight. You may also consider contacting established brands that are relevant to your niche and offering some incentive to work together.
Highlight Your USP
What is it about your brand that makes it more appealing? That’s the first question a potential customer will ask themselves to decide if they’re interested. Do you offer lower rates, or do you provide a more luxurious experience than your competitors? What are the characteristics of your brand that make your existing customers stay loyal? How can you use them to bring more customers on board?
Your unique selling proposition is what makes your brand stand out. You offer something that your competitors don’t, and as a result, customers should choose you. Your USP might be the way you cater to a specific niche, the attitude and values your brand promotes, or even a flashy spokesperson that keeps your name fresh in people’s minds. Conducting surveys of existing customers can help you determine your USP.
In a strong marketing communications strategy, you’ll leverage this USP to build up your customer base.
Stick to Your Brand Identity
Brand identity goes hand in hand with your USP. Your brand identity is the personality of your company—it’s what you believe in, how you operate, and the way you interact with the world.
Visually, your brand identity consists of some combination of logo, icon, and recognizable color scheme. All of your marketing materials should include the visual elements associated with your brand, from website and app designs to business cards and memos.
Take McDonald’s, for example—the Golden Arches have been famously successful. People around the globe immediately recognize the simple shape and color palette as McDonald’s brand staples. When you visit the McDonald’s website, use their app, or walk into their stores, you’ll find the same colors and iconography across the board. This is the kind of consistency that people expect from brands they trust.
Objectively Measure Results
The importance of marketing communications is clear, but it’s up to you to determine whether or not your strategy is working. To do this, you’ll need to find a way to measure your results objectively.
If your goal is to promote a new product through social media marketing, for example, you know what you’re expecting to see: more sales. Likes, shares, and retweets are nice for building engagement and spreading brand awareness, but the endgame is to move more product or establish more customers.
On the other hand, more engagement and interaction might be just what you’re after. If that’s the case, then those likes, shares, and retweets are indeed measurable interactions that you can count toward the success of your marketing campaign.
Whatever it is you measure, you should make sure it’s directly related to the ultimate goal of your strategy.
Tailoring Your Strategy to Your Company’s Needs
The phrase “one size fits all” seems less and less applicable in today’s day and age. You won’t find any infallible approaches that apply to everyone’s market communications strategies. Every business has its own goals, needs, and resources, so each one needs its own plan. Now that you know what a marketing communications strategy is and how it works, you can make one with the characteristics that are right for your company.
Stay Within Your Budget
Although there are many ways you can market for free, chances are you’ll need to put some money into your efforts. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, but it’s important to stick to a budget.
Planning is critical, and the better your research is, the more effective your efforts will be. You don’t want to sink too much money into a channel that your target audience doesn’t use, and you certainly don’t want to waste time, energy, or money marketing to a group of uninterested people. Better research and planning means a more efficient use of your resources.
Motivate Your Employees
Your plan looks great on paper, but it’s up to the whole team to buy into it and ultimately carry it out. Since happy employees are generally more energized and eager to produce, it’s in the company’s best interest to keep workers in high spirits.
Think about how you can incentivize your team to roll out your marketing strategy as effectively as possible. Perks keep employees around, encourage productivity, and improve morale. Employee benefits are so much more than a line item HR throws at you. They can mean a lot. Even simple rewards can motivate workers to keep pushing forward.
Understand Your Niche
Niches range from ultra-exclusive to broadly inclusive. Regardless of your niche’s size and scope, it pays to get familiar with it.
Maintaining an active presence in channels your niche uses makes you more recognizable, helping you score valuable connections in the industry. Participate in Facebook groups and Reddit threads, send reps to events, and converse with other experts in the industry. Some niches are particularly exclusive, so you’ll have to work your way in before you can roll out your strategy.
To Sum Up
A good marketing communications strategy involves identifying the most efficient channels to get the most effective message to the most receptive audience. Before you create your campaign, decide what factors you’ll use to measure its success so you can make improvements on the fly.
You can maximize your strategy’s effectiveness by reaching out to relevant influencers, emphasizing what makes your brand unique, and maintaining a cohesive brand identity. But as long as you do your research and know your niche, you should now be able to create a marketing communications strategy to drive your brand’s success forward.