Increase Sales Through Effective Marketing Communications

As a small business owner, one of the most complex challenges I have faced has been conveying my organization’s message in a manner that has the power to attract customers.

I have found that one of the most critical mediums a small business owner has to convey who they are is through writing. Yet, many owners do not know how to craft the right words to embody their brand or image. Furthermore, failing to craft the right brand or image may cost you the ability to attract the right customers.

Certainly with the integration of social media, the channels in which you can communicate your value proposition or brand with a potential customer are endless. However, if you are like me, you may wonder where and how to start creating the written words that convey who you are to build your customer base and increase sales.

Admittedly my writing skills can be improved upon. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to take a business writing course to brush up on my skills. However, I recognize that business writing or marketing communication is critical to my organization’s success. Think about it: as a potential customer if you visit my website and see a grammatical error, you would get turned off; or if I wanted to market a service to you but, I failed to catch you at “hello” with a great tagline, I just lost you as a potential customer

Wikipedia describes marketing communications as the following: Marketing Communications are messages and related media used to communicate with a market. Marketing communications is the “promotion” part of the “Marketing Mix” or the “four Ps”: price, place, promotion, and product.

Recently, I met a business writing professional, Justin Cerone with Business Writing Solutions, who took the time to educate me on marketing communication – more specifically business writing. It turns out that Justin turned his passion for writing into a business. Since my writing skills are average, I took the time to learn more about Justin’s services. I am glad I did because I learned that having a command of effective writing can make a difference in marketing and selling your service to customers.

I was so impressed with Justin that I asked him to create and present a writing course for myself and other small businesses that may benefit from his expertise. If you are like me, you need all the help you can get to increase sales through effective marketing communication. Justin agreed to conduct the webinar in November of 2010. I look forward to attending this event so that I can improve my business writing skills and learn how to sale more with by appealing to my customers with effective marketing communication. Feel free to visit my website to learn more. In the meantime see you in the clouds!

The Queen’s Sombrero and Marketing Communication

If you have not taken the time to sit back and think about how much marketing communications has changed, you should. The changes are astounding from Dallas to New Delhi, and the rules have changed significantly from even five years ago. One important change is the actual decentralization of marketing communications and publishing.

The days are over when only the Forbes and the Hearsts published business and consumer material. Today, everyone that is pushing written material through the various Internet channels is a publisher. That means you. When you are not in the role of the soccer mom or proud papa posting pictures of little Bobby on Instagram, or exclaiming your pride that Susie made the cheerleading squad on Facebook, you should most likely be following more formal rules when communicating as your role and audience are most likely very different. You’re wearing a different hat.

When you are not tweeting about the family, or posting some anecdotal story online, more than likely you are publishing business and professional information such as marketing communication. And, the hat you wear is different, the rules are different and operations should be different. When you are publishing business communication, remember these rules:

1. Wear the right hat. Remember you are not writing poetry or posting a personal status when you are writing professionally. You are communicating as a professional to other professionals. And, with that comes some formality in your style and execution. That is not to say you cannot write business communication with expression and catchy headlines. In fact, marketing communication sometimes requires that. It simply means, when you are communicating professionally, you need to remember your audience, and your professional role and credibility should be as evident in your style and presentation as well as your content.

2. Don’t co-mingle professional and personal communication. Your friends on Facebook are different than fans on your fan page. Have a personal Facebook page for communicating with your BFF, and have a separate Facebook page (fan page) for your professional communication and content. The same holds true for blogs. There are professional blogs, and then there are personal blogs. They do not mix.

3. Use professional vehicles for your professional communication. In this day and age, you should have a professional website for your business operations, period. Costs now are simply low enough these day as to not be an issue. And, you should have a professional email address (or addresses) attached to it. You lose credibility when you communicate to a potential customer or client from a generic Yahoo email address. For little or no cost (depending on your hosting platform), you can obtain a professional email address with your company’s name attached. Always communication using professional platforms and vehicles when you are publishing professional communication – including emails.

Just remember, business is business, including when you are publishing marketing communication, or any other professional material for that matter. One hat does not fit all. Case in point: Queen Elizabeth wears a lot of hats. But, you would never see her wearing a sombrero to an investiture at Westminster Abbey. Just saying…

What Is ‘Marketing Communications’?

The term ‘marketing communication’ speaks directly to the heart of marketing as a science. Marketing communication identifies at least four distinct marketing functions and studies them at length to form a composite picture of both the marketplace and the consumer.

Basically, it is all about sending messages out to the customer and analysing the responses. This, in turn, allows sellers and buyers to interact more effectively, creating greater profits as well as a higher degree of customer satisfaction. Other marketing functions, such as product development, packaging and pricing, are not identified as marketing communications.

The four identified forms of marketing communication are:

1) Sales – Here we look at the interaction between buyer and seller, seller and buyer. In the most basic sense, this function is achieved if the salesperson helps you to make a purchase by starting a conversation with you, making a recommendation or answering your questions. This is also achieved via email messages exchanged between seller and buyer on online sites such as eBay.

2) Advertising – Caught somewhere between propaganda and fine art, advertising is a science/art form entirely unto itself. Entire libraries have been written on the subject and yet still new and innovative (and occasionally invasive) advertising methods are currently being dreamed up in boardrooms around the world. As a form of communication, advertising addresses the buyer via interpolation; attempting to win him/her over, usually with a combination of lifestyle promise, fancy graphics and sex appeal (although not always). Advertising is carefully considered, even though it is a one-sided form of communication initially; the sales figures for the products themselves usually define the perceived customer response.

3) Public Relations (or ‘PR’) – This is the act of addressing potential customers as well as existing customers. Building good PR is becoming more and more important to modern companies. Donating money to charity, ensuring that your products are ethically sound, or taking care of your employees in a positive and supporting way are all proven (and effective) forms of PR. Profits from PR are usually implied, as PR exercises typically cost money and bring in little, if any, revenue in the short term. However, once again, sales figures will constitute a consumer response. PR is also a direct way to reach the customer, demonstrating that your company is concerned with the same issues as they are. In the world of ‘ethical consumption’ that we live in today, PR is an especially important form of marketing communication.

4) Customer Service – Although it often feels like a lost art these days, customer service is a vital pillar of any business’ ultimate success or failure. Customer service, as the name implies, indicates that your company is serving the customer. Think of it this way, if you were in a restaurant with a snarky, abusive waiter, would you think twice about visiting that restaurant again? However, if you were in a restaurant offering quality, efficient and friendly service, would you be more likely to eat there again? This function overlaps somewhat with Sales, but it also includes unique functions such as dealing with angry customers and fostering loyalty among buyers.

So, to sum up, marketing communication occurs whenever the seller addresses or interacts with the buyer, or vice versa. Any time any of the above functions are, um, functioning, you’ve got marketing communications going on.