A Small Or Midsized Company Marketing Communications Audit – Improving ROI For The Year Ahead

With another new year approaching, you’re probably even more concerned than usual – because of the sluggish economic growth, turbulent financial markets, unknown fallout from Brexit, and the exhausting and uncertain election season. Rest assured, your customers, prospects and employees are probably as concerned as you are.

These concerns will in many cases retard or even halt decision making and commitment to a variety of programs. In fact, the August CEO Confidence Index from Chief Executive Magazine, reflecting opinions on “future business conditions”, is near its lowest level since January, 2015.

As a marketer in a B2C, B2B or nonprofit organization, developing and implementing your new marketing and marketing communications strategy, plan, budget and tactics probably seems even more unnerving than in previous years. And the time to commit your resources – money, time and people – is rapidly approaching.

In the midst of all this doom and gloom are there any rays of sunshine? We believe there are, and recommend that now is the perfect time to take a step back and consider a more thorough evaluation of your program through the use of a marketing communications audit.

A Marketing Communications Audit Improves ROI

If you haven’t recently (or ever) conducted an audit, now may be a crucial time to do so before committing your already stretched resources. Like a financial audit, this process will provide an objective, professional picture of your current situation.

It will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing program as a whole, as well as how each communications tactic and message does or does not contribute to your objectives, strategy, budget and ROI.

The audit can provide a meaningful analysis of both your internal and external tactics and messaging, creative approach, subject matter, media mix, and budget allocation. Importantly, it will also provide an understanding of what is registering with your customers, prospects and employees versus what they really want to know about your brand.

Ultimately, the audit will provide an understanding of what needs to be improved, along with an actionable integrated roadmap of how to achieve your goals – how specific messages should be delivered across all forms of traditional and new media, as well as events, promotions, public relations, packaging and employee communications. The end results of this type of audit can significantly improve your marketing communications ROI now and well into the future. It will also provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your have developed a plan based on increased rigor and professionalism.

Marketing Communications Consultants Can Really Help

Most probably, you’ve already put a lot of hard work into developing your marketing and marketing communications plan. And, even if you believe that an audit would be a prudent way to go, you might not be confident that your internal staff has the time, energy or skill set to provide a thorough and in-depth audit at this time. Fresh eyes and apolitical candor from outside consultants might be just what you and your already stretched team might need.

Consider tapping into established, media neutral consultants, with broad experience across industries, companies and nonprofits, both large and small, who are willing to “tell it like it is” so candor will flourish. Don’t settle for a consultant with experience in only your niche or industry, selling only one particular discipline. And be sure they’re analytically driven, willing to test their measurements against the real world. This is the time to take a broad view of your business and opportunities, not to rely on “this is the way we’ve always done it”

Improving your ROI for the year ahead is always an important goal; it’s even more important this year with the increased uncertainties facing all of us. Fresh and apolitical evaluation and measurement of your program makes a lot of sense. As W. Edwards Deming, the father of modern quality management techniques, said, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

How to Bolster Advertising Success Through Integrated Marketing Communication

There was a time when mass marketing your skills and expertise was enough to secure a steady stream of work. Those days are over. The shotgun approach simply doesn’t deliver the results you need. You must take careful aim at your intended target. That’s where integrated marketing communications takes its bow.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road. More than 75% of companies with three hundred plus employees have embraced the doctrine of Integrated Marketing Communications and small to medium size companies are rapidly following suit. To make Integrated Marketing Communications part of your corporate identity requires a strong commitment from senior management coupled with a basic vision. With commitment and vision, you can put market resources in place.

Your Customer Database. Start developing a successful program by analyzing your database. See just what different customers require and respond to. Do extensive profiling and segmentation of your customers. Understand them. Know their buying habits. Then focus on specific customers and prospects who use your services. This customer-driven approach is cost effective and delivers better results. You discover who your prime prospects are in order to tailor communications to their special needs.

Integrate marketing and sales. Use your new insights to shape marketing, sales, and communication strategies. Encourage those in sales to attend strategy meetings. They have their eyes and ears in the marketplace. Invite everyone in your company to make contributions and become involved.

Differentiate yourself from the competition. If there are no real differences, create perceived differences. Develop a customer contact strategy. Build long-term relationships with customers you already have. It is five to eight times more expensive to obtain a new client than maintain an existing one.

Pick a Judge. Someone must take responsibility for judging and evaluating what’s going on. Don’t do things simply because they’ve always been done that way. Integrated Marketing Communications is about twenty-first century selling and marketing. It offers the promise of increasing success.

Get the Word Out. What tactics should you implement? There are a multitude of vehicles you can use. Advertising is the most popular vehicle. However, it may not be so effective for service-oriented businesses. Consider trade shows, direct mail, and public relations. Disseminate your message through sales promotions, telemarketing and websites. You may find multimedia presentations and special events add strength to your communication, too.

Participate in Social Media. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ning and countless other online resources offer unbridled potentials for reaching prospects you are looking. Use the research you have done through Integrated Marketing Communication to identify who you want target via social media.

Doing all these things will be in vain if you do not track the responses you get. The responses are there to evaluate. Analyze the feedback. Use it continually to shape your database. It will help you on the next go ’round.

How to Effectively Target Your Online Marketing Communications

Successful businesses today need to use the internet to market themselves. Using a wide variety of content, like social media posts, multimedia and content, a business can develop a whole range of communications to market effectively online. The effectiveness of these communications depends upon how well it is targeted. And targeting your marketing is the key to making sure it is seen by the right people, at the right time.

The beauty of targeted marketing is that you can make your messages suit very specific groups of people. For example, with AdWords you can target the audience who will be searching for the topics which relate directly to your business. It is one of the most powerful ways to get your message across.

However, the question we are often asked is: How do I decide what the message is?

This is a good question! It is something marketing professionals have been working on for years, and there is no set formula. What you need to do is study your audience and break them down into groups that can be targeted.

Here’s a quick example. An online shoe store sells brand name shoes for men, women and children. They could put out general marketing communications about shoes, however, if they break it down and target each group giving them the information they are most interested in, and putting the content where they will find it, they will have a much better chance of attracting the right people to the right products.

By creating audience profiles, a business can very carefully develop content which will be interesting to each audience member. So, for ladies shoes, it could be about the latest designer range. For children’s shoes, it could be an article about new school shoes on sale.

By aligning your content to your target audience, and to their profiles, you will have a much better success rate. This clever alignment will influence the tone of your communications, and the look and feel of them. These are all vital to attracting the right people and getting a positive reaction from them.

Here are some of the questions to ask about your audience when you are developing new content:

• What do the audience like to do? Hobbies, fashions and pass times.

• What are their interests? Interests, trends and news.

• What other companies or services do they use? Look at your competition.

• What do the audience want to avoid? Knowing what they don’t like or want is vital.

• What are the audience aspiring to? Aspirations are what drive consumers to buy.

• What does the audience need? Needs and solutions drive consumers to act.

By using the right keywords in your online ads and effectively targeting your content, you will get the best from your communications.

The next step is to identify the best places to post the information. Facebook is best for regular, friendly updates and starting a conversation with customers. LinkedIn is best suited to business and specialist content you can share to show your expertise. Twitter is great for fast and real time news and updates.

By having a suite of targeted and regular communications, you will be able to effectively place your own business within the view of the people you are looking for it. And they are more likely to respond to what you have to say too. Communications which have a powerful message and are delivered to the right people, and which also have a clear call to action will always reap rewards.

As you start to plan your communications and marketing strategy for the coming year, consider these points so you can create targeted communications which will create the results you need.

Check out the relevant video resource at http://youtu.be/peJIHfaf2vI