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A Marketing Communications Toolkit

Introduction

Marketing Communications Defined (the first topic for consideration in the "Toolkit") begins with a 21-word definition, followed by a brief analysis of every significant word used. Read it carefully, because it's the main assumption on which everything else in this narrative rests.

Following Marketing Communications Defined, An Outline Of Marketing Communications Fundamentals compresses what I believe to be the major topical areas associated with the practical application of marcom into eight headings. These are provided for your consideration and use prior to a significant undertaking, such as drafting an annual plan, a product launch or a promotion.

Marketing Communications Methods is the next to last topical area in this first offering, reprising in seven content areas associated with the operational aspects of marketing communications. When you're ready to "Make it real!" this is the practical stuff with which you'll have to deal. Market segmentation, planning and budgeting are considered here and will be of interest to those who must manage the communications process forward on a day-to-day or year-to-year basis.

Content Development rounds out this overview of marketing communications. If you're pounding a word processor in a large advertising or direct response agency, much of what you'll find here may seem a bit naïve or nostalgic. But, then again, going back to fundamentals never hurts, and even the surest hand is steadied when guided by another that has stitched the same seam.

This contains the real nitty-gritty of marcom; it's what you do after all your planning, research and budgeting are finished; It's about what you do when you actually have to do something to gain a response, which is just about what marketing communications is all about, right?

Here we go!

Marketing Communications Defined

Marketing communications is a systematic methodology utilizing content and media to broadcast programmatic material designed to create awareness, preference and response.

In its constituent elements...

  • Marketing refers to the comprehensive actions associated with achieving the acceptance of ideas, services or products by a defined audience.
  • Communications can be usefully defined in this instance as the generation and receipt of ideas, intentions, directions and responses
  • Systematic refers to a thoroughgoing review of the ideas and intentions underlying an initiative and a desired result
  • Methodology refers to various procedures leading to a budgeted, time and content specific set of coordinated materials and actions set within the context of a communications initiative.
  • Content refers to any textural, graphical or audio material utilized in marketing communications.
  • Media include personal speech to printing and broadcasting, ranging across all forms of mechanical and electronic distribution.
  • Broadcast refers to the distribution, through whatever media are deemed useful, of the content required to fulfill the requirements of a communications initiative
  • Programmatic Materials can mean anything from a phone call or speech to a letter to an advertisement, a Website, a video or a seminar, or more. Materials can be used "standalone," in concert or in series. However they are utilized, by "programming" them (with other materials and media), materials can be leveraged far beyond their initial application.
  • Design applies throughout the marketing communications process. One "designs" a strategy for implementing a set of organizational objectives, an outline for the text of a letter, an ad or brochure. One "designs" the graphical aspects of a Website; including menus, click paths and links. One "designs" a newsletter, an article, a direct mail package, a poster or a trade show booth. One "designs" a media buy, a public relations initiative or a membership campaign.
  • Awareness, preference and response are quite different in terms of the means and ends designed to elicit them and essentially are milestones on a pathway to "adoption" of an idea, a service or product. (10 of 10 definitions)

An Outline Of Marketing Communications Fundamentals

Strategic analysis and planning

  • Who are you? Who are they?
  • What's the deal?
  • What's the best way to "close" the deal?

Market definition

  • To whom are you "selling" (delivering products/services) in terms of segment and geography?
  • Can you quantify the demography of your audience?
  • Have your profiled your prototypical customer(s)?
  • Are you meeting a tangible need?

Products & Services

  • What are the features and benefits of your product/service?
  • How do you package what you "sell" (deliver)?
  • Are the "packages" easy to choose and use?
  • Is it easy to purchase/finance your products?
  • How do you package/facilitate purchasing?
  • What is your cost per sale?

Positioning

  • Brand equity is the sum of market perception
  • We "position against"
  • We create awareness
  • We compile identity
  • We accrue preference
  • We compel response

Targeting a niche market

  • "Narrow casting" works best
  • "Productize" to meet your market
  • Maintain your focus
  • Create a defendable "position"
  • Once established, build "line extensions"

Identity & branding

  • Start with a valid case statement
  • Create a "design continuum" consistent with your case
  • Collateralize your "look" (color/form/imagery)
  • Build brand recognition and identity
  • Accrue brand "assets" and leverage brand equity

Planning dialog

  • Define your message (themes, goals & outcomes)
  • Determine the "culture" of your audience
  • Select an efficient means of dialog (content & media)
  • Optimize your delivery vehicles (refine & test)
  • Analyze your costs (budget & quote)
  • Know your ROI (track results)

Selling the product

  • Look for direct sales opportunities (one-on-one & group)
  • Profile your ideal distributor(s) (channel marketing)
  • Build a great offer (features & benefits)
  • What's the closer? (The deal)

Marketing Communications Methods

Segmenting markets

  • Single or multiple audiences
  • Demography & psycho-demography
  • Lifestyle and location

Planning/budgeting a program

  • Marcomm in the overall budget
  • Make or buy?
  • Money, money, money
  • Anticipated results and outcomes
  • Scope, scale & timing
  • Media planning

Building a communications team

  • Copy chiefs and work groups
  • The marketing-driven organization
  • Vendor selection & management

Refining the message

  • Hooks, themes & overall appeal
  • Copy points, presentation modes
  • Packaging the presentation

Creating content

  • Differentiation & uniqueness
  • Correlating delivery vehicle & audience
  • Managing team expectations
  • Deadlines

Matching content to media

  • Efficient means of delivery
  • Making form fit content
  • Sustainable programs
  • Will it pay for itself?
  • Mixed media
  • Sequenced flights

Managing costs

  • Rational expectations (make or buy)
  • Competitive quoting
  • Retainer vs. hourly
  • Prevailing rates
  • Boundaries of rational expectation

Content development

Branding & identity

  • Use color, unique form, and multiple media
  • Everything is branding (whole organization)
  • "Show the flag"

Advertising & promotions

  • Pavlov's dog—the repetition issue
  • Print or broadcast?
  • Getting into print vs. getting on the air
  • Identity & recognition vs. direct response
  • Sponsorships and events
  • Special deals as drivers
  • Advertising novelties

Public relations

  • The press release (headline, inverse pyramid, brief, contact)
  • The press list and media contact
  • What is newsworthy? (Think like an editor or reporter)
  • Pitching and press kits
  • Photos and cut lines

Direct response and newsletters

  • White space and color
  • Pages, sections, holes, and sidebars
  • Building a reading track and visual interest
  • Web or snailmail?
  • One shot, flight or long-term program?

The Web site

  • Content rich or quick and easy
  • Menus, home pages and links
  • Local search options and "bots"
  • Interactivity (shopping carts/response forms)
  • The e-mail broadcast
  • Collaterals and presentations
  • The annual appeal
  • Staging
  • Special events and the podium

Milestones and Culminating Events

  • Self-liquidating projects
  • Looking for leverage
  • Seasonality and best chances
  • Culminating activities and events
  • How are we doing?
  • Is everyone happy?
  • Reconsiderations and reinitializing

Copyright 2002, 2014 The Golden Group.
The Golden Group is a marketing, creative and Web services firm located in the Metrowest area of Greater Boston, Massachusetts.

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