Multiple Forms Of Marketing Communication – Helping You Reach Your Widest Target Audience

You’ll have heard the saying ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ and when it comes to your marketing communications you really do need to take that on board! Using just one or two types of marketing communication can be a risky business.

But, just to confuse matters a little more (!), using too many different marketing communications can be just as dicey…

So, what direction should you be taking?

Well, in short, you should be focusing on 4 or 5 marvellous marketing communication types to ensure you have all avenues covered. Should you continue to focus on just one you can be sure that you won’t reach the widest audience possible. Also, what would happen if the one and only communication type you are using is no longer flavour of the month?

It goes without saying that your aim, where your business is concerned, is to reach as many people within your target audience as is possible.

No two people are the same – the world would be very boring if we were… So, to be sure that you are reaching all of these different personalities, it’s essential that you include a variety of marketing options to be sure you appeal to the largest chunk of this medley of personalities within your target audience.

As with many things these days, different marketing methods are in and out of fashion at the blink of an eye… If the marketing model you are using goes out of fashion overnight, you have a problem and will need to work quickly to implement something new. The trouble with this is that ‘rash’ decisions aren’t often good decisions. Plus, you’ll have lost valuable marketing time while you sort the issue out.

Also, different people have their likes and dislikes of various forms of communication. Some people love e-mail delivery, but you’ll have some who don’t even use e-mail (imagine that…) or they are so fed up with receiving e-mail in droves that it no longer has the desired effect. Or, they may feel that the e-mail being sent doesn’t focus on relationship building and is too ‘salesy’ from the outset – the opt-out button is hit in one split second… So, it may be that the e-mail phobics would be better suited to direct mail.

Then there are those that don’t own a fax, but do use Facebook. They love social media and Blog reading, so maybe that’s how you should be marketing to them.

So you catch the drift. What one person likes, the next person doesn’t. Your quest is to find out who likes what and the types of communication that people will marvel at!

For example, if you look and note that a proportion of your target market is male, age 18-35 and living in an urban area. It is likely that social media communications would be a better fit than direct mail.

To fulfil your quest, you need to be sure to test and track your marketing. You could even ask for feedback on your marketing methods to help you understand what is liked best and by who.

So, in summary, to be sure that your marketing system is durable and robust:-

- Never focus on just one lonesome type of marketing communication

- Be sure to interface multiple marketing communications

- Track and test what type of communication works best and with who

- Ask for feedback on your marketing communications

Multiple marketing communications are important to ensure that you reach the widest audience possible and to be sure that they get to know about your offering!

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Developing A New Nonprofit Marketing Communications Plan

With another unsettling economic year on top of us, it’s time again to begin developing or refining a new marketing and marketing communications strategy, budget and plan. If you’re fortunate enough to have achieved a good ROI from your current program, along with the data to substantiate the reasons, you’re in better shape than most.

For example, in the for profit arena, only eight percent of Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) say they can determine the ROI of their social media efforts. And 93 percent of CMO’s say they’re under more pressure to deliver significant ROI.

A Changing Nonprofit Marketing Landscape

The Giving USA Annual Report presented the nonprofit community with some good news – giving increased by 7.1 percent in 2014 versus 2013 to $359 billion. Individuals again accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total, with foundations a distant second, at 15 percent.

And, interestingly, while arts/culture/humanities increased by 9.2 percent, and the environment/animals by 7 percent, international affairs declined by 2 percent for the third year in a row.

As individuals are leading this growth, the obvious question becomes how to continue this trend? Consumer demographics, income, expanded consumer promotion and politics will impact many marketing communications programs next year. Consider the following:

The two largest age groups, Millennials and Boomers, are very different. Millennials are cash strapped, unimpressed with brand names, and socially conscious; Boomers, on the other hand, are brand loyal and projected to account for about 70 percent of U.S. disposable income in 2017 (Quirk’s Market Research).

Asians and Hispanics will continue to become even larger and more potent portions of the US population. Many will be courted by nonprofits for the first time, representing a brand new audience (US Census Bureau, 2014 National Projections).

Median household income actually declined 8.7 percent between 1999 and 2013 to $51,939 (Census Bureau Current Population Survey). And, while many people care deeply about certain causes, how to dispose of those hard earned disposable dollars rules many spending and giving decisions.

At the same time, these consumers are being bombarded with the largest major media and marketing services expenditures in history — $406 billion is expected in 2015. That’s a staggering $1,262 per person (Zenith Optimedia)! Beyond the dollars, that’s a lot of clutter and competition.

The road ahead will be very different than previous years. And, with the onslaught of political advertising driving up prices and reducing media inventory, even greater emphasis must be placed on developing smarter marketing communications plans to deliver improved ROI.

Marketing Tactics To Consider Before Finalizing Your Plan

There are a number of important tactics that can be used to improve ROI as well as brand presence. I’ll focus on four:

Like most managers, you probably think you understand what’s important to your donors, prospective donors, staff, volunteers and even your Board. But, do you really know what they believe about the organization? And, do they in turn understand your mission, or has “mission creep” expanded your core identity? Further, do they see their time and financial commitment rewarding and making a difference? That means employing market research to learn what’s really important and providing focus before committing to a marketing communications plan. It’s prudent, and fact trumps opinion.

Consider conducting a marketing communications audit to determine when, where and how to invest your time and money. An audit will provide an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of your existing program as a whole, as well as how each individual tactic does or does not meet your objectives. With this information, all of the elements of your program – subject matter, budget allocation, media mix, theming, graphics, tone and manner, new versus traditional media – can all be integrated into a holistic marketing communications program well before committing to the unknown. Look before you leap.

Be sure you’re media neutral. Traditional media such as print, broadcast, direct mail, newsletter, events and public relations still remain important media tools. But, today, so do blogs, social media, online videos, webinars and more. All have value, but learning how to use them is vital. There must be an understanding of the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.

Your anniversary, whether it’s your 5th, 33rd or 50th provides a unique opportunity to rekindle enthusiasm, and to galvanize all of your constituents to the relevant, important and needs of the organization. It gives you the chance to tell your story, not just your history but also your plans and goals for the future. Unify and focus everyone around a 12 – 18 month program to establish your vision.

Marketing Communications Consultants Or Internal Staff

If you’re like most nonprofit leaders, the majority of your time, talent and training is devoted to your passion for the programs and services you provide. The same is probably true of your most committed volunteers, staff and Board members.

Given that, does your organization have the marketing and marketing communications talent and background to develop the strategies, budgets, plans and tactics that are necessary to help you succeed in today’s environment?

If not, consider partnering with established, media neutral, senior level professionals to help your team formulate, refine and, if necessary, implement your programs. Look for people with experience in both nonprofit and for profit arenas, with extensive experience across brands and industries, as well as a willingness to “tell it like it is”, so that candor will flourish.

Creating Great Marketing Communications: The Art and Science of the Written Word

Great marketing communications isn’t rocket science. Yet, there is a mix of science and art to achieve the right mix of eye-catching style, valuable content, and grammatical excellence. The skills necessary to produce it can be dauntingly elusive. And nothing can wreck the efficiency of precious marketing dollars than a mixed message or one that is poorly communicated. Some 45 years ago, when newspapers, radio, and television were the only communication vehicles, Marshall McLuhan stated, “the medium is the message” (and the 21st Century’s growing media choices seem to validate McLuhan’s famous quotation), and for business today, carefully considering multiple media for delivery of your critical message has never been more important. For small business executives, delivering your core message isn’t easy, amidst the flood of new and old media available today (web sites, blogs, social networking sites, podcasts and webcasts, e-mail blasts, local/national television commercials, radio spots, and print advertising). But it starts, as it always has, with the written word.

The current economic environment has spawned many providers of new and excellent services to help you with the art and science of marketing your business. But quality content still remains at the heart of any marketing message. In fact, it is more important than ever. Marketing automation technologies can churn out corporate messages in tremendous volume, but the quality of these messages (including the style, grammar, etc) can make or break your marketing effort.

Few things will distract a customer’s attention from effective messaging than misspellings, grammatical mistakes, or awkward sentences that must be reread before their meaning is eventually revealed. Publishers have learned that the reader’s eye can be subconsciously drawn to errors, like poor spacing, bad syllable breaks, and repeated words, breaking the reader’s train of thought. This happens regardless of the medium: E-mails or text messages are perceived by the mind’s eye just as a magazine or book might be. Text messages or twitters, which are intentionally misspelled or incorrectly abbreviated so that they are easily typed, are not always easy to read despite their brevity.

Many small companies have employees who can handle information technology or Web-related tasks. Consider the E-mail blast that mentions the July issue of your newsletter: One that you’ve spent considerable time, effort, and money to develop. However, the E-mail says July 2009 not 2010. The customer wonders why you’re sending old, possibly obsolete, information. There is a saying that a customer believes they will be serviced the way they are sold. The same can be applied to how they are marketed.

How many times have you been annoyed when visiting an interesting website, found some information that can be useful, and clicked on a malfunctioning link? It stops you (and other potential customers) dead in your tracks.

And many small business owners can relate to this scenario: You develop a product brochure to be used on the company website and printed for future marketing efforts, like an upcoming convention. The day after it is printed, mailed, or posted, you notice an embarrassing typo: The name of a well-known client has been misspelled. Or two product photographs have been switched. Or the contact information has been dropped from the back cover. Do you want to spend time and money reprinting a necessary marketing communication?

Editing and editorial services, in general, may be overlooked, especially in tight economic markets. Doing so, however, imperils a small business’ marketing efforts. Spending hard-earned dollars to upgrade a website, launch an email newsletter, use Google AdWords, or produce other marketing collateral, without having the editorial skills at hand to make that investment payoff, is like building a house on a poorly constructed foundation.

Does your business have the capabilities to generate distinctive messages with precise grammatical structure, pristine presentation, and clarity of thought? Does your organization focus on the written word, and how your critical marketing messages are portrayed to potential customers?

Infusing quality communications into your business development and marketing planning can mean the difference between stagnancy and growth. To optimize business development and marketing efforts, business executives (small or large) ensure that its core message is integrated into all communications, from business cards and logo tag lines, from press releases to product brochures, and from websites to client E-mails.

Most small businesses, particularly those with fewer than 20 workers, do not have their own Communications Department. Often, senior-level employees take on the task of communications as well as marketing and business development. Recognizing the need to not allow coordinated communication efforts to stagnate in today’s difficult economic environment will be critical to business success in the near future.

One solution to generating high-quality marketing communications is outsourcing it to an firm with experience and expertise is the wide variety of media that are essential today. communications and marketing services is one extremely efficient method for crafting your organization’s message, publicizing it through various media, and producing needed results, whether you’re seeking more E-mail requests for proposals, increased traffic on the company’s website, greater recognition at local business meetings or events, or simply more sales.

The ability to isolate, identify, and effectively deliver your message is integral to communicating with current customers and reaching potential new customers and different markets.

More Critical Reasons for Integrating Editorial Services Into Your Marketing Efforts
• A Web home page must use its words sparingly, yet clearly communicate your value proposition. Visitors will read a line or two from the home page before moving on, so it is imperative to hold their attention with your company’s message.
• A one-page company “Fact Sheet” is a perfect leave-behind or follow-up E-mail attachment for a new prospect. Its style should concisely, but precisely, generate a clear picture of your company’s strengths and differentiating features.
• A press release can serve to announce new contracts, communicate with potential clients about new products, build credibility by highlighting completed work. Yet, creating a press release that provides more than advertising – ensuring that it gets exposure–is the key to success.
• A periodic E-mail blast or company newsletter can inform and can help you stay “top of mind” with your prospects. It can provide value-added information related directly to your services. Writing a custom newsletter can be easy task with solid editorial support.

Midsized Company Marketing Communications – Five Major Considerations For 2014

Another year is ending, and economic uncertainty and Washington’s gridlock continue to plague consumers, companies and brands.

That said, life must go on. And whether you’re a business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B), or nonprofit organization, the question remains as to what marketing and marketing communications investments, strategies and tactics should you employ in the year ahead. My thoughts on achieving profitable sales growth are as follows. Some may surprise you.

It’s Time to Increase Marketing Communications Spending
You probably haven’t heard many pundits talk about increasing marketing communications investments in 2014. However, you probably haven’t heard much about what Congress is considering in this area either. Did you know that Congress is now reviewing a reduction of the current 100 percent deductibility of advertising spending?

The current discussions center on permitting a deduction of only 50 percent of the costs in the year the advertising runs, and then amortizing the remaining 50 percent over the subsequent five or ten year period. In reality, a new tax on advertising.

Both parties are pushing this, and while it is doubtful that anything will make it into law in 2014, once the process has started it’s very difficult to get it stopped. So, consider the significant opportunity that exists – for at least a year – to use increased spending to profitably build your brand in 2014.

Employ Market Research to Further Understand Your Customer
Many B2C and B2B marketers believe they understand everything that is important to their customers and prospects. But do they really?

Rather than “thinking” you understand what’s really important to them, and how they perceive your brand versus competition, doesn’t it make good sense to conduct market research to uncover the real truth?

In today’s fast changing world, your target audience has multiple ways of evaluating your product or service well before entering a store, placing an online order, or speaking with a sales person. And unless you constantly monitor their conversations on social media, you’ll never know, for sure, their attitudes and perceptions (or, perhaps more importantly, their misperceptions).

Before you invest your precious marketing and marketing communications money and time, make it a priority to invest in fully understanding your target audience. Look before you leap!

Improve Your Brand’s ROI with a Marketing Communications Audit
Consider conducting a marketing communications audit to determine when, where and how to invest your time and money. An audit can provide you with an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of your existing program as a whole, as well how each marketing tactic does or does not meet your objectives.

A marketing communications audit will help you determine:
What subject matter should be emphasized (or de-emphasized);
How to improve your budget allocation and media mix;
The fit of existing or planned theming, graphics, and tone and manner of all messaging;
A roadmap of how messages should be delivered across all media, both traditional and “new”
Integrating your marketing communications in a holistic manner (with messaging that is important to your audience) before you commit marketing dollars can provide a significant opportunity to improve ROI.

Recognize the Importance of the Creative Product
With all of the focus over the past few years on the efficiency of media delivery, some marketers have forgotten that the creative product itself has been – and always will be – the key to effective marketing communications.

If the creative product doesn’t break through the clutter and increase awareness, and if it doesn’t improve your image and convince your customers and prospects to buy, the delivery system you employ really won’t matter.

This is true in all aspects of your communications – the website, content marketing communications, advertising, social media, public relations, direct mail, collateral materials, and even that latest cure all, “native advertising”.

As Tom Bradley, head of marketing at Nestle once 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.”

And don’t settle for unproven creative practitioners or cut corners because of cost. Good creative work is priceless, so nurture the creative professionals you have to constantly deliver impactful messages that your audience can relate to and be engaged by. Make sure someone in your organization has the expertise to not only encourage brilliant creative work, but also to recognize it when he sees it. As the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”.

Marketing and Marketing Communications Consultants Can Improve ROI
There will be challenges in the year ahead. Consumers are more demanding and knowledgeable, and along with businesses, have learned to purchase in new ways. Rapid changes in technology have created an “always on” media environment. A recent study by Forrester reports that 34 percent of marketers currently feel overwhelmed by change.

If this hits home with you, now may be the time to tap into established, experienced, media neutral consultants. It’s an efficient use of your resources and can provide much needed objectivity to the choices you have to make.

In this uncertain economic landscape, B2C and B2B marketers are already stretched to the limit. Many will benefit from candid and apolitical “fresh eyes” who are willing to tell it like it is.

Above all, search for consultants with broad scope and senior level experience across industries and brands. This diversity of experience and their network of like-minded professionals can expand your horizons while keeping you on budget.

Success in the Year Ahead
There will be many other factors for marketers to consider in 2014 – recognizing a rapidly growing older population, the importance of the Latino community, globalization, the effectiveness of various content marketing tactics-to name a few. Hopefully, the five major considerations discussed above will challenge you to even deeper thinking for a more profitable year.

Explaining Customer Communications Management Technology For Marketing Communications Professionals

Customer Communications Management is a term highlighted by research companies such as Gartner Group, Forrester Research and Madison Advisors to define a convergent set of Information Technology solutions that together provide marketing communication professionals the ability to advance the way that they communicate with their customers.

Advocates of Customer Communications Management and its definition include Gartner Group, Forrester Research and Madison Advisors as well as a host of vendor organisations such as Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software, HP Exstream Software, Thunderhead, Xenos and EMC Document Sciences.

Initial Customer Communications Management concepts were focused upon the utilisation of company transactional documents. These documents such as bank statements, statement of account, invoices and other customer transactional documents were viewed as an ideal location in which to promote company products to customers.

The rationale behind this was cited in analyst research by Info Trends that, “transactional documents are opened and read by more than 90% of consumers. Because the average consumer is bombarded with advertising, e-mail, direct mail and other forms of solicitation each day, TransPromo can help you cut through the clutter and stand out.”

Not only are transactional documents more likely to be opened and observed than other types of document, they are also more likely to be studied for longer than say a direct mail piece. Thus, a company has an opportunity to communicate and promote its message to the customer.

The technology that supports customer communications management also allows sophistication in the content of the messages. Customer communications management technology may consist of the following components (of which you’ll find plenty of information on this site):

1. Data Extraction, Transform & Load software.
2. Data Management, Analysis and location intelligence software.
3. Data Hygiene database software.
4. Document composition software.
5. Electronic document archive software and perhaps payment processing functionality.
6. Print Stream Engineering / Post Processing Software.
7. Mailing compliance database software.
8. Printer Management Software.
9. High and medium volume production printers.
10. Envelope inserter machines such as those manufactured by Kern, Bowe or Pitney Bowes.
11. Email Marketing Software.
12. SMS Communication Software.
13. Mobile Media based content distribution software.
14. Entering the frame more recently social media distribution software.
15. Document Production Reporting Software

There are a number of key factors concerning the way in which the software assists the marketing communications professional.

The data extraction software presents marketers and business with an opportunity to combine data from multiple systems to enable a customer analysis. Through this customer analysis process it is possible for marketers to evaluate the marketing mix and position individual products to the customer in respect of relevance to the customer or the results of purchase propensity model.

The end result of this process will be the creation of a data model, data acquisition and decision rules that enable a document composition engine to follow its own set of document application rules to construct individual documents on the basis of data items contained within an individuals data record.

Thus the concept of one-to-one marketing is born.

It is theoretically possible at least that for a run of 100,000 statements, no statement will contain the same set of offers. Thus, clothing for women would not be marketed to men whilst ‘male gadgets’ would not be marketed to women.

But Customer Communications Management is not just about making offers to customers. It also provides companies with the opportunity to improve the clarity of their communications. Rather than producing line driven data in which it is difficult for a customer to extrapolate trends and a deepening of understanding in respect of his or her relationship with the supplying company, Customer Communications Management provides the opportunity for a company to deliver visual analysis through clear graphics and highlighted content.

The Document Composition engine is responsible for interpreting data and following a set of rules to create a set of documents that can either be printed or distributed electronically. The Document Composition engine usually produces either a print stream or, XML data.

Print streams are languages that printers use to instruct the print process. They are known as PDL’s or Page Description Language. Common print stream types include AFP, Xerox Metacode, VIPP, PCL and Postscript. There are numerous others but, in production printing environments these are probably the most common.

Sometimes the Document Composition Engine will output XML. The advantage of XML is that it may be repurposed either to print or to various electronic formats. Thus, XML provides a standard of interoperability between various computer software systems.

As documents move from the virtual data environment into becoming something physical, the may first need post processing. Post processing can be utilised to prepare a print job for production and distribution. This may include tasks such as the application of barcodes to deliver individual mail piece instructions to the inserters and to vary these in terms of the actual inserter being used. For example, one manufacturer’s inserter may require different barcode instructions to complete the same task than another.

Post processing does not only cover production preparation. One of the key cost considerations in Customer Communications Management is the cost of mailing. Various postal operators throughout the world offer discount schemes if a volume mail producer pre-sorts mail before despatch. As this process saves the postal operator considerable effort and cost, a discount is passed to the mail producer. Where mailing volumes are high, this discount figure can be significant to the mail producer where for example the Royal Mail in the UK will offer 18% discount to customers who pre-sort their mail into 120 ‘pots’.

Post processing may not suit all mail sortation needs however and for organisations who produce many smaller jobs, a Mail Sortation machine, situated as the very last element of the production process may be more suitable. Many smaller jobs can be aggregated through the day and then bundled together for a physical mail sortation process.

Sometimes, Post Processing may be an integral part of the document composition process and this may be more efficient from a production point of view because rather than creating a two step document creation and processing process, it can be delivered in a single step and as part of the major document application. This may save production time.

Print Management software controls the routing and distribution of print jobs to either a single production printer or a fleet of production printers. Print management software does not just provide routing as a benefit though, it also provides a mechanism for assured delivery (ensuring that all pages get printed) through communication and feedback from print devices and also provides management information that is useful for Document Production Managers.

Production printers in themselves have been a key driver in the development of Customer Communications Management as a concept. The advent of high speed, 90 page per minute and faster economic colour production printers in recent years has driven the usefulness and power of Customer Communications Management meaning that a company can produce ‘print shop’ quality documents ‘on the fly’ utilising data that may be infinitely variable as in one-to-one customer communications documents.

The final step of the process and the final major utiliser of data derived upstream in the inserting / mail finishing process. This is where paper documents are combined with envelopes and sealed. The inserter uses camera technology to read a barcode that provides a Piece ID, often combined with a data file produced by either the document composition application or the post processing engine.

By obtaining the Piece ID and performing a data file look-up, the inserter is able to determine factors such as the number of pages for a particular mail piece, whether any additional physical inserts are required (such as leaflets)and whether or not a piece should be out sorted for special human handling.

Thus the inserter is able to determine what should go in each envelope. Through further downstream cameras and sensors, it is also able to determine the integrity of a particular piece.

But this is not where Customer communications management ends. The provision of a document archive means that after a document has been created by the document composition engine, it can be made available to a company call centre or website. Call centre users benefit from being able to engage a customer by seeing the document that the customer has in his hand. This saves money in call centres speeding up call centre client query resolution times and meaning that call centres can handle more customers with fewer staff.

The delivery of documents via electronic channels is also seen as favourable, giving consumers a choice of document receipt method that suits their lifestyles. Combined with electronic payment, this may accelerate cash collection and thus improve a company’s cash flow position.

Relevance of communication is seen as key in overcrowded, competitive markets where service differentiation can be difficult. Documents that add value to the customer relationship add to differentiation and for many service oriented businesses and be a major factor in improving customer retention and acquisition.