In 2013, if you aren’t already, you should take an integrated marketing and communications approach, using a mix of offline and online activities. If your marketing and communications plan is not shifting toward more online communications and integrated programs, you are not fully connecting with your customers.
To sell more products and services, your company should consistently connect with and speak to your customers and stakeholders on a regular basis. You should always maintain and further strengthen the relationships you’ve built with your customers. Keeping visible in your marketplace is also vital to catching the eye of new prospects.
Taking an integrated marketing and communications approach means integrating your offline channels (print advertising, direct mail, public relations, outdoor and broadcast) with online channels (e-marketing campaigns, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, banner ads, social media, blogs, RSS). Integrate the various elements of the mix to maximize competitive advantage for your brand. You need to understand and harness digital platforms.
Proper integration of online media adds depth and measurability to your programs. It makes you more accessible to your customers. And, accessibility is an important key to marketing in today’s business environment.
Marketing Includes Public Relations
You should devote a good portion of your communications budget to public relations, which includes search engine optimization and social-media-optimized press releases, which can reduce costs, increase exposure and potential ROI. It’s important to repeatedly let people know why your brand is worth its price by maintaining regular communications and focusing on the advantages of your products and services. A great way to accomplish this is to distribute press releases at regular intervals
You must also invest in a strong web presence. You have to make sure that you understand how your products are researched and found, and serve as a resource to people who are in search of information. Think of ways to drive people to your website, such as dedicated landing pages, and using an easy-to-remember URL with your promotions. This strategy makes it very simple to track your promotions. Offer a free newsletter, some other information of value, to your target market.
Start doing a monthly email marketing campaign. Use segmented lists and personalized messages with very specific information for each contact. Permission-based tools can make your marketing and public relations dollars work for you. Sending regular messages to your stakeholders is one of the best ways to market your products and services, and to drive traffic to your website.
Your communications need to be relationship-based, taking advantage of search marketing, social media, lead nurturing and online communities.
Marketing Includes Social Media Activities
Social media is everywhere. You should have a company Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn page, at the very least. With everyone more and more connected via mobile, these are great tools to stay connected with your customers.
Why not consider putting a blog on your website? Blogs are conversations. You can speak in your everyday voice, which your stakeholders will often find more friendly and approachable.
Consider doing a video. There are lots of ways to get prospects excited about your business, but very few are as attention grabbing and emotionally evocative as a well-done video. If you’ve never taken this angle for your business, this is an excellent time to do one, get it up on your website and get a clip up on YouTube.
Develop direct-mail pieces using variable digital printing and customized mailing with information directly targeted to each individual. Digital printing can save you money as you print on demand. You can also print and finish in half the time of offset printing and eliminate printing large quantities of pieces that just get stored away.
What about broadcast? Negotiate with your stations to buy filler inventory. Often radio stations will have 10 to 15 seconds where they have to push filler in order to start a show on time. Those 10 to 15 seconds could easily be your ad at a significant discount. The station gets the extra dollars they need during a recession and you get the extra exposure. Television also becomes competitive for business. Prime spots and rates become flexible and discounted.
And, you should also include print advertising. Consider using a quarter-page ad in trade publications rather than a half page, or a half page instead of a full page.
Energizing your customers – getting them charged up and talking about your products – should be done consistently. Determine what your customers are looking for and focus your attention there. Learn which channels and mediums provide maximum exposure for your messages and deliver the most for the dollars you are spending.
Successful marketing and communication efforts result from careful strategic and comprehensive planning. Look for ways to promote your company, its products and services in an integrated approach.
Are you using an integrated approach? What marketing activities are you doing? Which ones have you measured and found most worthwhile?