Search Results

Developing A New Marketing Communications Plan For Small And Midsized Companies

As you begin, or refine, your marketing and marketing communications planning for the coming year, you’re probably a little uneasy about whether you’re maximizing your strategy, budget, plan, executions and measurement. Whether you’re a B2C, B2B or nonprofit marketer, it might help to know you’re not alone. It’s always a challenge to develop these plans, but especially now.

In fact, 93 percent of Chief Marketing Officers say they’re under more pressure to deliver significant ROI, while only eight percent say they can determine ROI for their social media efforts.

Marketing And Marketing Communications Challenges
Our continued unsettled economic and political landscape and changing demographic patterns, coupled with the explosion of new communications tactics, along with a plain lack of trust between buyers and sellers, has led to the increasing levels of uncertainty that we all feel. In developing new plans and strategies, this translates into a host of considerations:

  • Expenditures for major media (as led by television, yes television) and marketing services (as led by sales promotion) in the U.S. are projected to total an all-time high of $406 billion in 2015. That’s a staggering $1,262 per person (Zenith Optimedia)! Beyond the dollars, that’s a lot of clutter and competition.
  • Conversely, median household income declined 8.7 percent between 1999 and 2013 to $51,939 (Census Bureau Current Population Survey). During this time, most buyers have learned how to spend their hard earned dollars more cautiously.
  • The two largest and most important age cohorts are very different. Millennials are more willing to buy lesser known brands, don’t see ownership per se as an aspiration, and are cash strapped. On the other hand, the brand loyal Boomers will account for about 70 percent of U.S. disposable income in 2017 (Quirk’s Market Research).
  • No one expected the efficiency and simplicity of emails to reach today’s volume, as businesses now spend nearly one-third of their work week managing them (McKeney & Company). Maybe declaring an email holiday is in order.

And, if you’re unsure or apprehensive about next year, perhaps your customers and prospects are too.

Improving Marketing And Marketing Communications ROI
So what can be done to develop a better overall program? I believe there are important steps you should consider for improving ROI.

1. You really need to know what your customers and prospects want and need, how they perceive your product or service, and how your brand stacks up to completion. Avoid corporate myths and mere opinion, and employ market research to focus your planning.

2. Be sure to understand the full demographic scope of your customers and prospects today and how they will change in the future. Consider the continuing dramatic growth of the Asian and Hispanic populations and include them in your planning.

3. Make sure your employees, reps and distributors completely understand, believe and can articulate your brand promise. Encouraging them to be dedicated brand ambassadors can dramatically increase your brand’s awareness and positive reputation.

4. Go out of your way to be media neutral. With so many new tactics to explore, make sure that, when you compare traditional and new media, you know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. For example, a recent Gallup study among 18,000 consumers reported that 62 percent said social media had “no influence at all on their buying decision”.

5. Sharpen and integrate your messaging across media through a marketing communications audit. Before committing your already stretched revenues, conduct an audit to help determine the strengths and weaknesses of your program as a whole, as well as how each individual communications tactic and message does or does not meet your objectives.

Done properly, these actions will help you develop a more knowledgeable, coordinated, focused and profitable roadmap for next year’s journey. But how do you actually begin that journey?

Marketing Communications Consultants Add Value
No one doubts that smart, dedicated people have been involved in developing your current marketing communications strategy, budget and plan. But, if you’re like most small and midsized companies, your people are probably stretched to the limit, and/or simply may not possess the background to oversee this process in the most knowledgeable way.

Because of this many companies have partnered with established, senior level consultants, to help develop, refine and, if appropriate, implement the program. If you consider this option, make sure the consultant has extensive experiences across disciplines, as well as a variety of industries and brands, so he or she won’t be trapped by the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality. You want an apolitical team, with a willingness to “tell it like it is”. Fresh eyes can be a major asset to your profitable growth.

In today’s challenging environment, a focus on upfront planning can go a long way toward improving your marketing communications ROI.

Seeing Your Web Market As A Resource

Is your market like an iceberg?
I see a picture of my web market and it looks like an iceberg. The small portion above the water line is a group of individuals that are ready to purchase. This is the portion of the market that advertising is aimed at because these people are ready to purchase. It is this ‘ready market’ that consumer advertising feeds on. And because this ready market is constantly renewed as decisions to purchase are made it is like a feeding frenzy for all business owners.

As business owners we want to harvest our share of this ready market, but some companies take the lion share because they have deep pockets. Small business owners mostly get the scraps, or they find a better way to reach their market.

The greater resource
Like an iceberg the greater portion of our whole market is undecided and not ready to be scooped up. We tend to ignore them until they become a ready and mature market. Even our financial resources dictate that we focus on the ready market.

When we are hunting or trapping our markets and attempting to capture that market then this is how we think. And we are all hunting or trapping. Our marketing language tells us that much when we say things like “our TARGET market” and “CAPTURING our market.”

It is in this way that we define our marketing and it says a lot about our own business and the nature of our business. Hunters and trappers have an aggressive mind set, but not all business owners want to be aggressive and spear or trap their markets. But we all want more business.

Are there alternatives to hunting and trapping?
A history of civilizations shows us that cultivation works better in many instances that either hunting or trapping.

It is a wonder that marketing people do not think much about cultivating the greater market share instead of hunting down the smaller market portion that is the ready market.

Your whole market as a resource
It is a simple and practical matter for a web page to cultivate the whole market. There is no limit on the space and content of a web page, but there are necessary considerations on how to deliver information to the whole of the market.

People, which make up your market, simply do not read volumes of information. We cannot know just what stage of the buying cycle a single visitor is at, yet we need to cultivate that member of our market.

From the very beginning of the buying cycle, where members of our market are becoming aware that they have a problem, all the way through research and then comparison shopping until finally they are close to making a decision, takes in the whole of the market our web site needs to cultivate.

No other marketing medium can provide the tools and the affordable means of cultivating a market. In the past it was always the material store and sales people that cultivated the walk-in customer. It was even possible for a talented salesperson to walk a potential customer all of the way through the buying cycle and finally make a sale.

No one does that for a pack of gum
Even in a material reality there are limitations to resources and time spent. Salespeople do not really want to talk to a potential customer that doesn’t see their own problem, let alone talking them through research. Only if the sale represented enough profit is it worth the effort.

Your web site has a onetime effort, for the most part. It is as simple as writing up the content to include every step of the buying cycle. A single page may seem like a mile long and no one is going to scroll down through a wall of text, but the web offers tools for hiding information until it is wanted. A much shorter page without sacrificing needed information is the result.

Farming your web page
Instead of writing content to spear customers in the small ready portion of your market you can farm the much larger portion of that same market. And in doing so you are also including that ready market.

From top to bottom your web page can attract your whole market wherever they are at. And while those that are ready to purchase put an item in the shopping cart others are being fed the information they need take their next step.

When you feed your market and raise them up to be knowledgeable shoppers you have also built a relationship based on honesty and trust. Your web site has helped them and nurture them and in turn most will reward you with their business.

No longer strangers
Marketing people know that the toughest sale is always the first sale. Once that barrier has been broken more sales can be made. Sharing and being helpful builds relationships and in this way you and your market are no longer stranger – even before the first sale.

A web page designed to help your market with useful information is like the farmer fertilizing his farmland. First you put in and then you take out.

Helping and supporting is not a marketing strategy when it comes to skimming off the surface where you bump into all of your competition. Web marketers, for the most part, teach you how to get your elbows out and muscle your way past your competition just to get a line in the water.

And once more you are fooled
Even before we think about marketing we need to think about search engines. The picture of a feeding frenzy on ready buyers doesn’t apply when it comes to search engines. That place where every business is hunting or trapping the ready market is diluted with traffic from search engines.

Your web designer said they would send you tones of web traffic and – even though this is faulty thinking – if they do meet their promise it won’t be what you were expecting.

Search engines are not just available to the ready buyers in your market, they are available to the whole length and breadth of your market. Right off the bat the ready buyer traffic you receive is going to be dwarfed by about 9 to 1 where 1 is the tip of the iceberg.

Your whole market is searching for your solutions, but only a small portion are ready to purchase. This is good and bad.

It’s bad because you need a good portion of the ready buyers. It’s good because you can cultivate all the rest and turn many of them into your own resource.

If you want all of your market you must cultivate that market and make it your own. If you want to know how to cultivate that market look for my article titled, “Farming Your Web Market.”

Should Your Business Be Using Facebook in Your Marketing Communication Strategy?

Introducing new and innovative marketing concepts into your existing marketing communication strategy can give the most confident of business owners more than a few sleepless nights, however, anyone who knows anything about marketing knows that you need to be where your customers are to sell your products or service and right now your customers are on Facebook. So while it may seem a little overwhelming and risky to go ahead and introduce Facebook into your marketing communication strategy, the marketing strategy of allowing yourself to get down there with your clients to learn more about their needs, and how you can better serve them, leaves the impression with your clients that you are truly interested in earning their business and money as well.

If you are unsure if your business should use Facebook in your marketing communication strategy here are a few reasons why you should:

1. 350 Million and growing

Facebook has proudly announced recently that they had passed 350 million members, meaning, if it were its own country, it would be the third largest in world. What better way to utilize a free marketing tool?

2. 100 Million U.S. Users
With over 100 million US users you are introducing yourself to the entire US nation of consumers in one location, with the potential for them to read about your business what you have to offer, clients can leave comments, and you can introduce a FAQ page from your site as well. This is the top leader in social networking today.

3. An hour a day

On average there will be an hour a day per Facebook user. This is more face time than any radio or billboard ad that you would spend thousands if not millions of dollars on for advertising, yet another great reason to introduce Facebook as your business marketing communication strategy.

4. Nearly 80,000 Sites Using Facebook Connect

Now your clients do not have to get online (at a PC) in order to get to Facebook or see posts, advertisements or apps. There are over 80,000 different locations online, and phones that offer the Facebook app. Currently Facebook is leading over Google as the main website as well; Just another reason to introduce your business marketing communication strategy to Facebook.

With these four reasons, introducing Facebook into your businesses marketing communication strategy becomes less of a risky undertaking. Not only is Facebook free for personal and professional use, you will be saving fistfuls of cash that would normally be spent on advertising, while raking in the profits from any new clientele you can earn through Facebook.

If you’re still harboring any doubts about whether or not to introduce Facebook into your business marketing communication strategy than perhaps you should log into your Facebook account and check out your competitors Facebook page and see what you are missing out on.