A Mid-Market Company Marketing Communications Audit Could Improve ROI

Whether you’re a B2C, B2B or nonprofit marketer, developing your new marketing and marketing communications plan is always a challenge. And today, despite some glimmers of improvement to the economy, the world in which you operate is probably still a precarious one.

As you move forward in your planning process, one of the difficult questions you face is how to allocate your precious resources – money, time and people – among the various disciplines under consideration – social media, traditional media, content marketing, PR and events – as well as what message to deliver across them

Maybe now is the time to consider an audit of your marketing communications program to determine what is and what isn’t working. Look before you leap!

Developing A New Marketing Communications Plan

If you haven’t recently (or ever) conducted a marketing communications audit, now is the ideal time to do so, before committing your already stretched resources. Like a financial audit, this process will provide an independent picture of your current actions; in this case, it will help you determine the strengths and weakness of your marketing program as a whole, as well as how each communication tactic and message does or does not contribute to your objectives and strategy.

This review should include a thorough analysis of all of your internal and external communications tactics, creative approach, media mix, subject matter, budgets and market research. Interviews with key personal may also be necessary.

Benefits Of A Marketing Communications Audit

An audit can go a long way toward helping you through your planning to maximize ROI. It can provide you with:

  1. An understanding of where improvement is needed in your outbound and inbound messaging, so that a more holistic approach can be developed;
  2. An understanding of what is registering with your customers, prospects and employees versus what they really want to know about your brand;
  3. Knowledge of the connects and disconnects of your current theming, graphics, tone and manner of all messaging across all media – both traditional and new;
  4. Help in determining what subject matter should be communicated and what messages should be minimized or eliminated;
  5. An improved budget allocation, resource distribution and media mix to maximize your marketing communications ROI.

The results of the audit will provide you with an actionable and coordinated road map of message and message delivery, media mix and spending allocation across traditional and new media communications tactics. It will also provide you with peace of mind, knowing that you’ve developed your plan with increased rigor and professionalism.

Marketing Communications Consultants Round Out Your Team

All B2C, B2B and nonprofit marketers face increasing scrutiny to prove the value of their programs, as well as to demonstrate improved ROI. As you face this scrutiny, one thing is certain – your constituents, be they customers, prospects or donors, know a lot about your brand well before beginning a dialogue with you, or meeting face to face, much less buying.

Having the skills, time and budgets to build favorable awareness of and attitudes toward your brand among these constituents in advance of buying is a significant challenge. If this strikes a chord, now may be the time to tap into established, experienced and media neutral consultants to help you with your marketing communications audit.

Select consultants with broad scope and senior level experience across industries and brands, who are willing to “”tell it like it is” so candor will flourish. This apolitical objectivity can be a significant value to the profitable improvements of your brand. So don’t go it alone.

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.

Marketing Communication – The 6 Primary Forms of Marketing Communication You Can Employ to Promote

Marketing and Promotion can occur through various avenues. Creativity not withstanding, all marketing and promotion can be categorized in 1 of 6 primary forms.

These 6 primary forms of marketing communication are as follows:

1. Media

Media marketing communication refers to any traditional mass distribution broadcast or publication with a large volume of viewers, listeners, or viewership. Television, Radio, , Internet Banner Ads, Magazines, Newspapers, Billboards, etc are all forms of traditional media marketing.

A more recent addition to this type of marketing communication is the webinars and social networking sites on the internet.

Regarding up front costs, media marketing communication tends to be the most expensive type of marketing. This is due to the value related to the mass volume. The back end reward is that because of the volume, the actual cost per lead can be less if a high volume responds to the marketing effort. So, the trade off is that it may cost more up front but can produce more leads by volume.

2. Mail

Mail is an equally popular method of marketing communication. Whether it is direct and independent or bundled in a mass mailing, millions of marketing message are sent by mail daily. Distributing marketing messages by mail is difficult, though. It is so easy for the message to simply hit the trash.

Ideally, if marketing communication is performed by mail, it should be to a targeted list. A target list is list of subscribers who indicated an interest for a particular product or service. Since mail is paid per unit delivery, it is more cost effective to mail to individuals who expressed interest or who have demonstrated interest by previous consumption.

3. Telephone

The telephone is another obvious form of marketing communication. Whether there is a live human dialing you or if contact is accomplished by an auto-dialer, the telephone can be an efficient way to contact a large amount of people in a short period of time. The telephone, due to the number prefixes, also, allowed for targeting specific geographical areas. Limitations with the phone, however, include the requirement that someone answer, or have voice mail, and short duration of exposure to message. Additionally, legalities must be considered due to the “do not call” list which allows numbers to be opted out from direct marketing.

4. Electronic

Electronic marketing communication is best know by fax or email. These are very cost efficient mediums with email marketing being near infinite return on investment when successful due to the negligible cost associated. Also, the available message space is virtually infinite, as well.

Another rising form of electronic marketing communication is SMS and MMS through the mobile phones. These are otherwise known as text or picture messaging. Systems are available now that can mass text to multiple mobile numbers at once, or allow consumers to text in a particular message to a 5 digit number in order to receive a pre-formatted message. This is usually associated with contests for sufficient enticement.

The issues with electronic marketing communication, quite similar to mail and telephone, is that you must build a list of names and associated email addresses, or numbers, in order to market in volume.

5. Direct Contact

Marketing communication by direct contact is less efficient unless talking to groups. And, even then, it is usually limited to a very finite number. This is in stark contrast to the other forms of marketing mentioned above.

Additionally, direct contact can be a more aggressive, or assertive form of marketing and requires a special verbal communication skill set. If direct communication is not handled correctly, prospects can be easily alienated.

The underlying theme to direct contact is that efforts must be made to determine the interests of the consumers and to tailor solutions which accommodate their needs and interests, versus the needs of the marketer.

This is true for all forms of marketing, but especially poignant and noticeable with direct contact.

6. Referral

This final form of marketing communication is very strong and highly effective. It relies on the testimony of previously satisfied consumers to market. It is really marketing based upon strength in relationships. It has been reported that it is 6 times easier to market to someone where a relationship has already been established than to a new contact.

Referral based marketing communication is the truest form of flattery or complement that a business can receive as it reflects upon the genuine acceptance, appreciation, and approval of an established relationship. Theoretically, as a quality business grows, referral marketing of satisfied consumers can be a perpetual source of new clientele.

A key concept to remember when employing any form of marketing communication is that studies show that it typically takes an average of 7-9 exposures to a message before a consumer will respond to an offer. This means that your budget should take this into consideration when deciding on a particular form of marketing communication.

A second key concept is that you have to do split testing and statistical analysis to objectively determine which marketing messages, and marketing communication avenues, are producing.