Effective Marketing Communications

Developing effective marketing communications is difficult and complicated.  However, before any communications plans can be developed, it is vital to invest time in getting the objective for any communication activity right from the outset.  I would argue that is actually the most important part of the communication strategy. There are many more permutations of media, content and touch-points than ever before. This means the process of planning all this multi-channel, often multimarket communication can get very complicated. But by having a clear objective and the right kind of objective, it is possible to keep things as simple as possible.

The objective must also be rooted in the commercial requirements of the business.  It is important to remember that marketing communication is not the sole solution for all commercial goals. It is surprising how often communication is posed as an answer to any business problem. There are things that communication can do and things that it can’t do. Communication is obviously good at creating awareness, imparting information, creating a brand image and creating desire for products. But it can’t replace the effect of good product innovation or an effective distribution strategy or good stores. Therefore marketing communication must sit alongside all other business tools aimed at delivering commercial success.  

Marketing communications includes all channels and media used to engage target audiences, from PR to advertising, sales promotions to packaging design.  In the past whilst communication activities may have had individual strategies, they rarely had strategies that ‘touched’ each other. Different channels were used to do different jobs and as long as the jobs got done, then that was fine. More recently, several new factors have emerged to challenge this way of working and as a result it is important that you question your assumptions about the media world to ensure that it reflects a landscape that is changing in some fast and fundamental ways. It will also help inform your decision on which marketing communications channels to use for your business.

  • Don’t assume you only need paid for media

  • Don’t assume that mass coverage is necessary

  • Don’t assume communications is one-way

  • Because there are lots of available media doesn’t mean you have to use them

Selectivity of media becomes even more important as there has been an explosion of different media available.  You only need the channels that will deliver your objective. Sometimes dominating a single channel can be very effective or even choosing a specific positioning within one. Nowadays it is more difficult to communicate with consumers and to make matters worse, communication budgets have never been under greater pressure. Broadly speaking this demands a holistic approach to planning how a brand can engage its audience. You must also consider how the creative content and the media work together. Where previously individual channel activity was planned separately, it should now be planned together. Where previously communication meant just above and below the line, you must now conceive it as the entirety of touch-points between a brand and the consumer.

It is also important to make sure each channel has a clear role to play and fits with the other media that are used – they must work together. You are aiming for the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts. Each channel should have a specific role to play in achieving the overall objective and each one should work harder because of the presence of the others. This is often called the multiplier effect. The channels used will reflect what we’re trying to achieve and the customer’s journey to purchase. This produces a series of ‘touch-points’ with customers, i.e. every opportunity where our brand comes into contact with a customer.

One of the benefits of following your target audience on their journey to purchase is a more efficient and impactful marketing spend which will enable you to surround your target customer at multiple touch-points throughout their journey to purchase with one consistent message and a strong call to action. 

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