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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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”.

  5. 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.

The Art of the Business Web Marketing Email List

As a business owner marketing your business, brand, product and/or service, you know that you need to reach out to targeted individuals on the web. This means that you must seek out and target your business web marketing materials towards those people who might find an interest in what you do. If yours is a company that manufactures wheelchairs, you will obviously want to market your materials to people who require the use of such equipment, or the families of people who do. What if you could gather an entire group of targeted individuals into one area so that you could market to them over and over? That is exactly that business web marketing list building is all about. If you can gather your own list of highly-targeted prospects and customers, your job becomes ten times easier. You no longer have to seek out like-minded individuals, you’ll have them right where you want them: on your subscriber list. Let’s take a look at the art of building a business web marketing email list and how to leverage that list for maximum return.

Email Platforms

You could manage a business web marketing list all on your own, but why when there are many platforms available to you that make the task easy? A few examples of email marketing platforms that are popular with the business to consumer and business to business Internet marketing crowd like include:

  • AWeber
  • GetResponse
  • Constant Contact
  • Mail Chimp

Each platform comes with its own features, price points and extras, but it really doesn’t matter which platform you choose. Each one, regardless if it’s paid or free, will allow you to:

  • Create an opt-in form that you can place on your website or blog
  • Import email addresses that you gather from other means
  • Pre-program email messages (autoresponders) to go out at specific times, such as a Thank You autoresponder that goes out the moment someone opts into your list
  • Test emails that will give you the data you need to improve your campaigns and conversions

These are just some of the features you will receive with most business web marketing email platforms. The more advanced the platform and the higher the cost of packages, the more features you’ll earn.

Email Marketing on the Web for Any Small Business

Once you have selected the ideal business web marketing email platform, you next need to set it up. Most platforms will allow you to tailor your emails so that they can look and feel anyway you wish. For right now, we will focus on plain text emails.

Opting-In

Find the area on the platform you chose that dedicated to form creation. Your opt-in form will go on your website or blog and will allow your subscribers to enter their personal information, usually a name and email address. Some marketers also like to gather phone numbers, especially if they are simultaneously running a mobile or SMS business web marketing campaign.

At any rate, you will want to create your opt-in form so that it matches your website exactly. The closer you get the colors and design of your site to match your opt-in form, the higher your conversions will be.

Free Offer

Most people hate to receive tons of emails. For that reason, most people are very apprehensive to give out their personal information, including their email address. Your job as a business web marketing expert is to entice the click.

Write a short report or get someone to write it for you explaining to your audience how to complete a task, solve one of their goals or anything else they might find useful. If your site provides tips for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners, for instance, you might write a report titled, “Ten Ways to Avoid Submission that All BJJ Practitioners Should Know,” or something to that effect. Make sure your audience will be interested in the information and make sure the information found inside can’t be found elsewhere online.

If you do have to rehash information found online, put your own spin on it and make it as unique and as valuable as possible for your audience.

Get Creative with Your Business Web Marketing

Once your opt-in form is completed, start sending targeted traffic to the page that is hosting the form, or to multiple pages if you happen to be testing your form. Write articles, spread the news on social networks, blog about your subject and toss in a call-to-action mentioning your free offer, and engage in any traffic-building that will help you build your list with targeted prospects.

Don’t just gather email addresses and contact information from your opt-in list, however. The business of marketing requires you to think outside of the box. Every time you do business with a customer, ask for an email address. Host a local event and place a fish bowl near the entrance where participants can drop in their business cards or come up with your own ideas.

You Have a Business Web Marketing List: Now What?

Once you start building a list, you will want to populate your business web marketing email platform with autoresponders to go out at specific times.

The Business of Marketing With Email: Crafting the Autoresponder

Your first autoresponder should go out when your subscribers opt-in. Most platforms have pre-programmed messages that go out when the subscriber first hits submit after entering their info and then again when they finally confirm their email thanking them for subscribing. You can customize these if you want to and it is recommended that you do.

When crafting business web marketing autoresponders, try to be conversational, edgy, catchy and informative. The rule of autoresponders is no fluff or boring material. People are too busy and their attention spans far too short to put up with lengthy autoresponders that don’t say anything.

The following autoresponder schedule should work for any business to customer or business to business Internet marketing campaign.

  • Autoresponder 1: Please confirm your email address.
  • Autoresponder 2: Thank you for subscribing. You will also want to explain to your subscribers that you will never spam them, trade or sell their personal information or abuse their info in any way. You will also want to explain to your subscribers that you will be sending emails daily, weekly, monthly or whatever schedule you plan to keep. Let your subscribers know what to expect and they’ll remain your subscribers for far longer.
  • Autoresponder 3-8: Take your subscribers through a five-part e-course. Really, you’re just pre-programming five tips, one in each email. Let your subscribers know that they are getting something special and that your tips cannot be found anywhere else. Do not sell during the five part e-course. This is merely for information, to help your subscribers reach their goals and it also positions you as the expert in your field.
  • Autoresponder 9-10: This is when you will want to recommend that product you’ve been dying to sell. It could be your own or an affiliate product. Now that you’ve positioned yourself as the go-to person in your field, let them know that the product or service is one-of-a-kind and it will help them reach their goals. Obviously the product or service had better be good and worth the money if you hope to retain your business web marketing list subscribers.

From then on, you should alternate between selling and tip-giving. Always give more advice, help, tips, updates, news and other relevant information more than you sell. Do not annoy your list subscribers or they will unsubscribe and bail on you.

The business of marketing with email lists isn’t difficult, but it does take patience and know-how. Once you establish yourself as the leader in your niche, your subscribers will be proud to be subscribed and they’ll follow any links you provide as they strive to reach their goals.

If you are selling your own product or service or you’re an affiliate marketer selling someone else’s products or services, an email list is always the way to go.

Marketing Communications

For people to understand each other, they need to converse. To spread the message or idea to another party, a person must communicate to them. This is not different in terms of marketing. In order to get the message across to the targeted market, related media must be used. The formal term for this type of communication is marketing communication. This kind of communication is also coined as integrated marketing communications. Examples of media used in this type of communications are advertising, promotion, packaging, direct marketing, sponsorship and the likes.

The traditional way on this type of marketing is through the use of traditional channels such as the use of TV ads, radio ads and newsprint. These are already considered traditional ways because it has already been used in such a very long period of time. With all honesty, this type of communication is still effective but everything in this world changes and the way of communication is not an exception to that rule.

The new communication of marketing is through the use of the internet. The internet has a lot of use in terms of business to business marketing. It has greatly benefited from the success of the internet. With the internet, the mode of communication is limitless. One can make an article just like in the newsprint. A video can also be made and uploaded to the internet. One can also make voice ads just like in the radio. A very own website can be created so that all the information pertaining to the product or service can be placed on that site so that everyone can see. With the rise of social networking sites, it has opened another avenue to communicate with the targeted market.

To further differentiate the traditional from the new trend of communication, you must take notice on how articles are submitted to be advertised. Before, it is given to newspaper or other form of print media and hope that it will be accepted but now, with the internet, all you have to do is just make an article and give it to article directories and it will be published. The simplicity and quickness is very evident if the internet is being used. Another example is the use of video for advertising. Before the only way is through TV ad slots and it entails too much cost but with the internet, only you have to do is upload the video on a free video repository and it is ready to be everyone to be seen. With this, it is perfect vehicle if you are on a tight budget.

If everything is taken a closer look, the difference is only the way it is being delivered but the concept remains the same. Just like for article marketing, articles are still written but it is just sent via internet rather than to newspaper or other newsprint. It is the same with the use of videos, videos are to be made but now it is just posted in YouTube for everyone to see.

In conclusion, everything is changing and you must be up to date of the change especially when it comes to marketing because it may be the reason for the rise or fall of your business.