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In order to contextualise your review, include sufficient background information on any relevant PESTEL factors (influencing the organisation’s communications), the relevant market sector, brand, product category, market size, target market and positioning.
The information in this section should be obtained from reliable secondary sources of data which should be fully referenced.
Review and Analysis of the Communications Mix (worth 50% of the total mark)â€¦
Review and analyse the effectiveness of the current marketing communications mix used by your chosen product/service in a recent campaign, paying attention to the full range of tools employed in the communications strategy.
Marketing Communication Plan: Strategy
The Strategy section of your Marketing Communication Plan can be broken down into discussions around Objectives, Message and Media. Although this is a high-level discussion it comes after Analysis simply because understanding the customer should always come first before any other activity in sales and marketing. Once we know who our customer is and we have an idea of how we should communicate with them, we can formulate goals and a general philosophy around how this communication should take place.
It is only after analyzing your customers and their communication process that you can develop strategic Marketing Communication Planning objectives. While we generally like to put objectives at the beginning of any plan, in marketing our strategy should first and foremost be defined by our understanding of the customer and their needs. This is especially true in creating your Marketing Communication Plan and so even if you do create a formal plan document that begins with a high-level Introduction and Objectives, make sure to revisit goal setting in the strategy section.
What segment of your target audience are you going to focus on? Now that you understands the size of your potential customer base are you looking for a specific conversion rate in terms of sales leads produced through your Marketing Communication Plan? Perhaps your objectives are more qualitative and you simply seek to increase awareness and educate customers and prospects. Do you have specific calls to action or a most wanted response you are trying to generate as a result of your Marketing Communication Planning?
These are just some suggestion of what kind of strategic objectives you can have in creating Marketing Communication Plans. Quantitative results can of course be tracked allowed you to adjust your approach in future iterations of your plan. On the other hand, depending on your stage in the product and market lifecycle, a more subjective approach in shaping consumer behavior and attitudes is called for. However you choose to approach the question of strategy and objectives do remember that you are in business and the end result of your Marketing Communication activities should be to engage customers, build quality relationships and make sales.
The Marketing Communication Plan revisits aspects of creating your overall Marketing Plan and this should indeed be the case. It is important to come back to the basic questions of creating value and creating customers that are central to business. From a sales and marketing perspective, it is important to readjust your approach to these questions as your understanding of your customer and their needs increases. This is just as important in the question of your Marketing Communication Plan message as elsewhere.
It is more important today than ever to have a customers first approach to sales and marketing. It is not good enough to product a product or service and then hope people will buy it. The marketplace is simply too competitive and customers today are far too discerning and downright fussy over their purchasing choices. Rather, your approach should be to understand first, then act. This applies to creating a valuable product based on your customers’ needs as well as understanding what they are looking for in your product and crafting your message accordingly.
Your Marketing Communication Plan message begins with how you position your product, service or idea. After understanding your customer’s needs and general market conditions you can design your product and messaging to answer to those needs and thus create value for customers. Your message simply communicates how your positioning strategy aligns your product or service features with the benefits your customers seek through using your product. Using the dry cleaning business example, a quick turnaround benefits busy customers with little time.
A common mistake marketers make is creating superficial marketing communications that are nothing more than fanciful announcements that do not engage nor impress customers. It is the same mistake that salespeople make when they sell too hard. Rather, marketing without marketing just like you should sell without selling. Common sense coupled with a customer-centric helpful, personable approach will work. Sterile marketing pitches will not. Think like your customer and communicate to them in a way that you yourself would be open to if you were them.
Visit Copywriting Information for more on creating an engaging and effective Marketing Communication Plan message. Some final considerations are making sure that your message resonates with salespeople, customers and employees and can be applied across all communication channels. Your message should speak to the customer – “you” – directly, addressing their needs in their language.
What communication vehicles are you going to utilize as part of your Marketing Communication Planning? You have done some basic research in the Analysis phase and now is the time to flesh preliminary thoughts out into a full-fledged plan. In creating a Media strategy, keep in mind how you can keep your message unified throughout all of the components of your Marketing Communication Mix so that you use a single voice, that of your Marketing Personality.
A key goal of your Marketing Communication Plan is to create strategies and tactics around each of the stages of the Sales Process. As your customer progresses through the various stages in the Marketer’s Journey from Unaware to Aware, Interested, Evaluation and Purchase, the message and communication tools you use at each stage needs to tie into where the customer is in the journey and what kind of information will help them progress to the next stage.
Recommendations and Communications Plan (worth 25% of the total mark)â€¦
Make clear recommendations on how the current marketing communications mix could be developed over the next 12 months. This can be achieved by developing a basic communications plan for the product/service. You should include details of all communications tools and tactics, media to be utilised and a guideline budget based on approximate cost estimates.
Marketing Communication Plan: Implementation
The Implementation section of Marketing Communication covers the tactical day-to-day aspects of putting your plan in action. Anything to do with the how of making your Marketing Communication Strategy work should be elaborated on here in as much detail as necessary. Just as with your overall Marketing Plan, use your judgment and discretion in deciding how to schedule and plan activities, calculate costs and measure progress.
How much money will it cost to implement your Marketing Communication Plan? You should by know have a breakdown of costs associated with each of the tools of the Marketing Communication Mix that are of interest as well as a strategy guide to how each of these tools should be utilized via various Marketing Communication programs and activities. How long and how much of each communication method will be balanced against your Marketing Communication budget and worked into a specific timeline of activities.
In creating Marketing Communication Programs you must now ask who needs to to what and when in ordre for your Marketing Communication Plan to succeed. Whether you use Excel spreadsheets or Project Management software like Microsoft Project to create these plans of activity is up to you. What is important is having a sufficient amount of detail to ensure that the various activities tied to your specific plan can be carried out successfully.
As well as monitoring and managing the ongoing rollout of your Marketing Communication Plan is is important to have a feedback process to track results. If you are seeking to effect specific customer actions, how can you record these to adjust your approach for greater success? Can you use surveys, formulas or other forms of information capture at the point of transaction? Where is this information stored, how is it analyzed and how often.
Advertising Marketing Plan:
Who is my customer, what is their lifestyle, what are their needs, what are their values and where is my customer? Just like everything else in sales and marketing, your advertising marketing plan should begin and end with your customer. You need to figure out who they are and how you can effectively market and sell to them.
Understanding your customer includes being able to identify with their values and lifestyle aspirations. Get inside the head of your ideal customer and figure out what makes them tick!
Ideally, customer analysis even precedes developing your product or service because you want to know what people want in order to be able to offer them just that.
In any case, for the purposes of putting together a successful advertising campaign, your goal in customer analysis is to gather as much information about your ideal customer as possible. You need to a get to a point where you know how they think and predict what they will do in a given situation.
You need to know your customer likes and dislikes in general, above and beyond what you are offering them. You need to be on a first name basis with your picture of your ideal customer!
Advertising Marketing Plan:
Advertising Marketing Plan
Traditional sales and marketing focused on product or service features and how great your company is. It was about making bold pronouncements that customers did in fact respond to back in the day when they believed commercial messages. A step beyond that is talking about benefits where you focus on what your customers get from doing business with you. This is the starting point for what I call “You” Messaging where you start and finish with your customer – “you” – and talk exclusively about what is in it for them.
Bad sales and marketing is like a general announcement focused on no one in particular. “For a limited time we are offering…” and “Nobody beats our quality craftsmanship!” So what? Who cares?? Make sure your customer cares and that what you are talking about is what they want. Your message needs to speak to your customers just like you do. What this means is talking only about their needs and how you solve them, making your message personable and speaking directly to them in your advertising copy. This is why I put the emphasis on the word “you” – make sure you use it in your message and that you are engaging your customer just as you would your best friend.
Advertising Marketing Plan:
Advertising Marketing Plan
The magic of advertising is in your creativity in coming up with the right idea that will attract attention, convey your message with impact and make a relatively lasting impression on your customer. You not only want to come up with a great ad but also want to make sure that what you customer takes away from it is the benefit they are going to receive from you and the reason they should buy from you. Once you know who your customer is and what you want to say, creativity is part of how you say it.
What can you do in order to make your message stand out? Your message, once again, should position you as being ideally suited to solve your customer’s problem and should differentiate you from your competitors. After this, think of how you can be funny, outrageous, engaging and unexpected so that your message is set apart from the thousands of other sales and marketing messages that your customer is bombarded with. Being creative includes using the right message as well as the right medium.
Advertising Marketing Plan:
Advertising Marketing Plan
Choosing the right media is part of your creative strategy and you should also choose a communication channel that suits your customers and message as well. If you are marketing to seniors then you are probably not going to invest heavily in an online campaign. Similarly, in choosing whether you are going to use TV, radio, print, direct or outdoor advertising, ask yourself, how can I get maximum exposure to my target audience and use the medium itself as a selling tool?
You may have experience using certain media and you should certainly stick with what works. That being said, part of the sales and marketing process in general is keeping an open mind in order to experiment with new ways of communicating with your customers. As you grow in experience you will find newer ways of reaching out to more diverse groups of people. In using multiple channels your goal is to provide an integrated and consistent message across all media that reinforces your brand.
Advertising Marketing Plan:
Advertising Marketing Plan
How much money do you have to spend on your advertising campaign? In developing your advertising marketing plan, the cost of your advertising efforts will undoubtedly play a big part in what you do and how much you do. This in turn will affect the results you get (makes sense, right?). In order to maximize your return, it is always a good idea to approach your advertising marketing plan with moderation and not spend a whole bunch of money on a single advertising channel or campaign. Try, instead, to build up a portfolio of successful advertising methods over time to which you continually add and through which you become an expert at using different advertising methods for different situations.
You should always be concerned with your break even point in developing any sales and marketing program and this includes your advertising spend. How much is each new customer worth to you? In looking at the lifetime value of a customer, you might use an approximation such as figuring out that each customer stays with you for 2-5 years. Once you know this, and know the number and frequency of sales you derive from your average customer, you can then use your profit margin in order to calculate how much each customer is worth to you and how many customers you will need to acquire through a specific advertising campaign in order to consider it a success.
Advertising Marketing Plan:
Advertising Marketing Plan
There is no point in spending money on advertising without being able to figure out your return on investment and so you must build into your advertising marketing plan ways of measuring the success of your efforts. It is not enough to say, “sales are up and so the ad must be working!” How much are sales up by? How does that different from the results you would get from another campaign? The more information you can gather through tracking and customer feedback, the better off you will be in terms of positioning yourself to build on successes and learn from failures. Your goal is to develop a longterm advertising strategy which becomes an integral part of your business process.
Get in the habit of asking customers how they heard about you. One way of tracking the result of an ad is to ask customers to mention the ad for a specific discount. You have probably heard and seen many such ads yourself and the reason they are so popular is that they provide advertisers with invaluable information that allows them to gauge the success of different advertising campaigns. You can use this method in everything from radio ads to coupons to newspaper flyers and if you are advertising online then you must record clicks to track who visits your website from a specific campaign. The ratio of how many responses you get to how many actual sales is your conversion ratio which you can then work to improve on throughout the sales process.
Your Marketing Communication Mix is the “Promotion” of the Marketing Ps and covers every method and medium of communicating with your target audience. In many ways, the marketing communication mix is the heart of your marketing strategy around which everything else in sales and marketing is predicated. If business consists of creating value and creating customers, Marketing Communication (MARCOM) covers exactly how you are going to create customer by taking your value message to the market.
This sections covers the elements of the Marketing Communication Mix and discusses how to optimize your marketing communication process based on what you are trying to accomplish. Your Marketing Communication Plan should be centered around the idea of Integrated Marketing Communication meaning that all of the components of your communication mix are aligned and conveying the same message in the same way to your customers and target audience. As well, you should be aware of considerations pertinent to successful sales and marketing in today’s high tech world.
The Traditional Marketing Communication Mix
The first step in the marketing communication process is deciding what components of the Marketing Communication Mix you are going to utilize in communicating with your target audience. The five traditional elements of the MARCOM mix are Advertising, Direct Marketing, Personal Selling, Public Relations and Sales Promotion. These are discussed below. The Marketing Communication Process, Marketing Communication Strategy and Marketing Communication Plan pages also provide additional thoughts and tools for optimizing your marketing communication mix.
Marketing Communication Mix
The traditional components of the marketing communication mix are discussed below and put into perspective for successful marketing to today’s consumers by today’s business. Although marketing underwent a great transformation similar to that of business as a whole in the twentieth century, the traditional components of the marketing communication process are still in use and important today.
This is the mass media method of marketing communication and provides exposure to the largest, most geographically dispersed audience at the lowest cost per head. That being said, advertising costs can ad up quickly with mediums like television, radio and even online advertising which can be prohibitively expensive for many businesses.
Other traditional forms of paid advertising include newspapers and magazines, the Yellow Pages, billboards, signs and posters. As well, advertising on buses, benches, gas pumps and even public restrooms is in vogue today. Basically, any medium which provides an opportunity to target “eyes and/or ears” can be a venue for advertising and you can see examples of successful promotion in the most unlikely places.
This marketing communication competency enables companies to reach out directly to consumers without intermediary channels such as those required for advertising. This component of the marketing communication process includes direct mail, catalogs, coupons and inserts, telemarketing, online marketing and television infomercials. Done correctly, Direct Marketing is extremely effective in the long run and allows for a targeted marketing approach to specific consumers to create valuable lasting relationships.
Direct Marketing is the marketing communication method that enables companies to interact with a relatively large number of customers and encourage a “call to action” or “most wanted response” which is usually a purchase. The downside of Direct Marketing is that it is usually unsolicited and seen as a nuisance by the general public. Telemarketing, e-mail spamming and junk mail are universally despised and so Direct Marketing tools should be used with thought and caution. Visit the Direct Marketing Association website for guidance on legal and ethical Direct Marketing.
This is the most dreaded as well as the most expensive of all methods in the marketing communication process. However, if you are a small business owner or otherwise have the ability to personally sell and build relationships with customers, it can be one of the most rewarding aspects of the marketing process, both personally and professionally.
Just as with traditional marketing, successful selling begins and ends with the customer. The whole objective is to ascertain needs and create the best solution for customers. Along the way you build relationships and continue to gather information about how you can better serve customers which is your reason for being in business in the first place.
Sales and marketing are fundamental to the survival of any business and both involve creating customers for the business value you have created. The former targets one person (or entity) whereas the latter targets many. Both engage, inform and persuade through a variety of communicational tools. Aligning both will increase your success regardless of conditions. Successful sales and successful marketing both begin with an attitude and that attitude is customers first.
Sales is covered in more detail in The Sales Lead Center section.
This refers to how you handle your relationships and the flow of information with your various “publics” or the people who have a stake in or are affected by your business. This includes the general public, consumers, shareholders, employees, partners, competitors and the government.
PR becomes a more and more crucial element of the marketing communication mix as a business or organization grows larger. That being said, it is still a vital component of the marketing communication process to think about for smaller businesses as well. PR tools include press and media releases, lobbying, charitable and public events, advertorials, financial reports, promotional collateral, facility tours, sponsorships, interviews and any other method for the promotion of a positive image to people.
Being “people conscious” starts with the individual and carries through to the organization. Once again, people buy from people at the end of the day and the most successful people and organizations are those that benefit other people the most. As with many facets of sales and marketing, PR also has a “good” and “bad” side.
The good side of PR is fostering socially conscious business practices whereas the bad side is epitomized in shady political lobbying, “spin doctors” and so forth that divert from the truth as opposed to promote it. Suffice it to say that in today’s connected world, more than ever, any sized organization needs to be cognizant that it operates within the larger framework of society and has corresponding responsibilities.
The Institute For Public Relations website is an excellent resource for additional material on the role of Public Relations in the marketing communication process.
This is the last traditional component of the marketing communication mix that is discussed here as part of the marketing communication process. Sales promotion simply refers to purchase incentives that you provide your customer with. These can assume a number of forms including offering free goods or services, coupons and vouchers, gifts and prizes, discounts, samples, financial incentives, charitable promotions and any other value-add over and above your standard product or services.
Sales Promotions are generally short-lived, “one off” incentives intended to provide consumers with that last “push” to buy. The main takeaway is that regardless of the size and type of your business, you should continually look at ways in which to create additional value for customers. Your customers will appreciate it and, in facts, customers have been shown to pay premium prices for real value and real service.
Marketing Communication Process
While the information age may have changed how the world runs and how business is done, some fundamental principles still hold true for marketing in general and the marketing communication process as well. Being aware and aligning yourself to these principles will lead to success. After all, people continue to buy from people, technology and the hustle and bustle of modern life notwithstanding.
The Marketing Communication Process page covers additional individual marketing communication tools such as e-mail, flyers, mailing lists, newspaper and magazine ads, Yellow Pages, merchandising and packaging, trade fairs and events and eMarketing. As well, other disciplines related to the marketing communications mix such as branding, product placement, underwriting, graphic design, sponsorship and online marketing are touched on in that section.
Marketing Communications is a very broad discipline and there are a tremendous number of ways and means for reaching out to your customers in today’s high tech world. The goal of these sections is not to provide an exhaustive study but to touch upon the various elements of the marketing communication mix so that you are equipped with the basic facts for further inquiry and experimentation. As well, a lot of the “bunk” is deconstructed and presented in plain language to make your study of the various marketing communication processes and tools as easy as possible.
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