There are no shortcuts to effective marketing.
The concept of integrated marketing communication prevalent today is simple in theory, more complicated to achieve in actual practice. The aim is to coordinate the best set of tools, channels and tactics to cost-effectively reach your target audience and create exponential impact that goes beyond the sum of the individual elements.
The process of strategic planning helps to clarify what you are trying to achieve and how to do it better. There’s a lot to consider. Often it’s necessary to go back to the basics and consider who you are, what you do and why? Objective expert perspective helps facilitate the required effort outlined here:
Consistent articulation of your unique selling proposition – Does your branding define who you are, what you do and how you are different in the marketplace? It should express the traits, characteristics, values that differentiate you and be clearly understood at first blush by the audience to be most effective. The core brand message is how you explain what you are all about. It is not necessarily your slogan, but a good slogan will often express the essence of the brand message.
Effective knowledge and targeting of your prime audience – The objective of marketing is to reach an audience and move them to buy your product. It’s important to focus the effort on the target audiences that are most likely to be receptive to what you have to offer. One of the best predictors of who future customers might be are existing customers – particularly satisfied customers. In a brand or rebranding rollout, however, there is also opportunity to reach new audiences and especially individuals or groups of individuals who are influencers – those whose understanding and embrace of your unique selling proposition is a key to sharing it with a wider audience.
It’s worth taking some time and effort to think about the importance of influencers and other potential target groups and working specific targeting into your marketing plan. Some research here may be worthwhile.
A coordinated campaign rollout using an appropriate set of cost-effective Integrated Marketing Communication tools and tactics – There are more ways than ever to put out messages than ever before and it’s harder than ever to move the audience because of the clutter. Public Relations and Advertising are just two of the tools of Integrated Marketing Communication used to reach and move audiences. Others might include the Internet and Social Media; Trade Shows and Events; Sponsorships, Specialty Products; etc. Lots of choices.
This is why planning and coordination of the marketing activities are so important. It’s also why the consistency of your message and your knowledge/targeting of the audience matters so much. A marketing plan chooses a set of tools and tactics that are best suited to reach your targeted audience and consistently and frequently deliver that message in the most cost-effective way to reach your target audience.
None of this should be done in a vacuum.
There may always be value in various Public Relations tactics such as news releases and getting coverage in the media – even though today’s audiences are more fragmented. It will provide exposure and, if it captures your brand message well, also can become collateral material in your marketing (posting video, even printed coverage) which might reach even more people and add credibility to your messaging. Media coverage can be especially important with Influencers. Keep in mind that media outreach is more effective as part of a coordinated effort with messaging via other tools as well. It helps to create synergy.
Advertising is an often effective choice of IMC tool to make impact but it can be expensive. This is again why targeting your audience is a valuable consideration. You may or may not need to advertise at all. If you do, you may not need to advertise on the most expensive programming if you can reach your audience via specific interest publications, targeted Facebook advertising and other less costly alternatives that will produce a strong return on investment.
There is tremendous opportunity in the IMC environment for finding creative ways to reach and move the target audience. And it’s changing all the time. The intent should always be to find new ways to make the most impact more cost-effectively. That’s what a Communication Audit is all about.