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!

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Integrated Marketing Communications – 5 Primary Communication Tools

Communication is always one of the most important and vital strategic areas of an organization’s success. You can have the best or most innovative products or services, but if your internal and external communications are weak, then the demand for your products or services raises a personal flag of concern. When communicating the value of your products or services, you want to focus on how they will benefit your clients.

When planning your strategy for Integrated Marketing Communication or IMC, you want to have dialogue with your customers by inviting interaction through the coordinated efforts of content, timing and delivery of your products or services. By ensuring direction, clarity, consistency, timing and appearance of your messages, conveyed to your targeted audience, these factors will help avoid any confusion about the benefits of your brand, through the connection of instant product recognition.

When looking at your marketing mix, you’re examining price, distribution, advertising and promotion, along with customer service. Integrated marketing communication is part of that marketing mix included in your marketing plan. IMC strategies define your target audience, establishes objectives and budgets, analyzes any social, competitive, cultural or technological issues, and conducts research to evaluate the effectiveness of your promotional strategies.

If companies are ethically planning, communicating, and following industry guidelines, they will most likely earn the trust of their customers and target audience. There are five basic tools of integrated marketing communication:

1. Advertising:
This tool can get your messages to large audiences efficiently through such avenues as radio, TV, Magazines, Newspapers (ROP), Internet, Billboards and other mobile technological communication devices. This method can efficiently reach a large number of consumers, although the costs may be somewhat expensive.

2. Sales Promotion:
This tool is used through coupons, contests, samples, premiums, demonstrations, displays or incentives. It is used to accelerate short-term sales, by building brand awareness and encouraging repeat buying.

3. Public Relations:
This integrated marketing communications tool is initiated through public appearances, news/press releases or event sponsorships, to build trust and goodwill by presenting the product, company or person in a positive light.

4. Direct Marketing:
This tool will utilized email, mail, catalogs, encourage direct responses to radio and TV, in order to reach targeted audiences to increase sales and test new products and alternate marketing tactics.

5. Personal Selling:
Setting sales appointments and meetings, home parties, making presentations and any type of one-to-one communication, to reach your customers and strengthen your relationship with your clients, initiate this IMC tool.

Decisions linking the overall objectives and strategies during the marketing planning phases help to evaluate and fine-tune the specific activities of integrated marketing communication. Before selecting an IMC tool, marketing, product and brand managers must look at social, competitive, legal, regulatory, ethics, cultural and technological considerations. One thing you want to avoid when activating the tools of integrated marketing communication is reaching inappropriate audiences and causing controversy. That could be damaging when trying to build brand awareness and encourage consumer spending with your company. When marketing managers examine the beliefs, emotions and behavior of their targeted audience towards their brand, they can influence their beliefs to achieve product awareness, by attracting attention to their promotional campaigns.

Public Relations As a Management Tool

Public relations (PR) is an often misunderstood and under-valued management tool. To many it is seen as just another form of advertising while others dismiss PR as dealing with journalists and sending out press releases. In fact, PR can play a central role in the achievement of specific objectives at all levels of an organisation’s work by focusing, reinforcing and communicating an effective message.

Used properly, public relations is an excellent and cost effective method of improving the image of an individual, organisation or product. It is about ensuring that your audience (customer) receives and accepts the message you wish to project.

Public relations involves many other disciplines and it can have an impact on every aspect of an organisation. It is about projecting the right message and as such, it can involve press relations, advertising, marketing, sponsorship, exhibitions, local community events, the environment and public affairs.

Communication is the key to public relations – communicating the right message to the public, employees, shareholders and other specific target audiences.

PR defined – The Institute of Public Relations defines public relations as “the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain good will and mutual understanding between an organisation and its customers.”

Why use PR?

A company can survive without PR, but with a planned PR programme the company can expect better results and an enhanced reputation.

Obviously no amount of good relations can hide a bad product or protect an unethical company. For public relations to succeed the organisation must be credible. PR alone cannot cure a terminally sick organisation. What it can do is help to promote a positive corporate reputation and to minimise the damage that occurs when something does go wrong.

A good corporate reputation can be likened to a healthy bank balance. The better the reputation, the more ‘reputation credit’ you have with your stakeholders and if people think well of you, it makes it easier for you to do what you want – even if that means changing working practices or increasing your prices. In addition, when things go wrong the more credit you have in your reputation bank the better you will weather the storm (provided the issue is properly managed). But if you have no credit at all, there is only one way to go.
What happens if you don’t use PR?

No matter how good you are, if you don’t communicate with your public, you won’t put your message across. You will lose out to your rivals who are using public relations more aggressively to ensure effective communication.

It is not possible to abdicate from a public image. If you are not managing the information by which people form their opinions, their view of your company will be based solely on what they hear from other (uncontrolled) sources. In short, if you do not manage your reputation, others will do it for you.

You cannot quantify what you lose if you don’t use PR, but companies that do use it can see the benefits in increased awareness of themselves and their products. Companies feel effective PR working for them in many ways:

o Better staff recruitment and retention
o Greater market share
o Customer recognition and loyalty
o Motivated sales force
o Shareholder satisfaction

In other words a structured PR programme helps a company operate more successfully on all levels of business. Cultivating a good public relations image is worthwhile and having a bad image or even no image at all in the eyes of your market can have disastrous consequences.

In order to operate more effectively and efficiently an organisation needs to recognise and meet the needs of all its customers – some more obvious than others.

This means:

o Identifying all potential customers
o Identifying and responding to their needs
o Communicating with them

Responding to your customers’ needs

o What do your customers want from you?
o What do you provide that your rivals don’t?
o What is your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
o Is your market aware of your company’s USP’s?

Communicating with your customers

o How do your existing customers hear about new developments, projects and contracts?
o How do potential customers hear about your organisation?
o Are you quoted in the press, more or less frequently than your competitors?
o Do you monitor your communication material to ensure that it is relevant and effective?
o What do your employees think of your company?
o Is your belief in the organisation the same as your public image?

The process of reviewing communication in an organisation is often referred to as a “communications audit”.

Some PR facts:

o PR is about presenting a positive image
o PR is about managing reputations
o Customers take notice (and are willing to believe) a news story in a magazine
o What someone else says about you is at least ten times more believable than what you say about yourself
o Used properly and to complement other parts of an organisation’s activities, PR can

actually save money!

Why should you use PR?

Use PR because:

o It creates a good image
o It makes people more keen to do business with you
o It improves your standing in your own market
o It makes it easier to attract, and retain, a high calibre of workforce
o It puts you in the media when you want to be there
o It allows you to control the message
o It allows you to create the image you wish for your company
o It gives you ‘licence’ to change your working practices – increase costs etc,
o It can help to minimise the damage when things go wrong

How important is corporate identity?

The answer is very. A strong, positive corporate identity can enhance your company across all its operations, while a poor or negative identity will be equally effective in weakening your reputation. A good image can take years to build, but it can be quickly tarnished by negative publicity. Great care, and effort, is needed to foster and protect an organisation’s reputation.

A strong corporate identity results in people trusting in the value of you and your products and/or services. They are happy to deal with you and give you their custom. They will come back to you time and time again if you gain their loyalty. Your reputation is enhanced and this in turn helps to reinforce your corporate identity.

“The purest treasure mortal times afford is spotless reputation; that away men are but gilded loam or painted clay” – Shakespeare, Richard II

Marketing Communications

Yes, you are communicating when it comes to marketing. The communication is between you and the customer. You are explaining to them why they want the product, and they are telling you why they cannot afford it. The customer usually wins and you have to stop calling them the customer. Every once in a while they stay the customer.

Marketing communications is a very lucrative field if you are any good at it. There are many tools at your disposal to perfect your craft. As any artist knows, you have to have good tools to make masterpieces. Article marketing is one of your best tools.

If you are willing to accept that you are in communication with your customer, then article marketing should come naturally. It is like you’re writing to your pin pal you never met. You are telling them about this great new thing you found out about. You’re telling them about how they have to get one. You come off very personable if you’re doing it right.

Of course, there are some products where this doesn’t work. Sometimes your ethos can’t afford too personal a relationship with the reader. You have to sound a little above the reader. Right? Wrong. There is never a time when you should try to distance yourself from the reader. Even if you are selling incredibly complex scientific equipment, you should write to the scientist like you’re old buddies. Good article marketing is very personable.

Marketing communications is very direct. It’s between you and the customer. To accomplish this you have to find niches. You will need to write a different article for every niche that you are selling to. This will keep the articles personal. It’s impossible to write one article that will be personal to everyone. People are different. You have to talk to them in a certain way. Don’t be lazy; write a lot of articles.

There are some dangers in marketing communications. If you’re too friendly you’ll admit to your customer that they don’t need the product. You have to wear your mask. This is all fiction. You don’t really know what you’re talking about. They don’t really know what they want. That’s why you work so well together.

Still, article marketing can be a rewarding process. As you get better at marketing you will enjoy communicating with the customer. You will anticipate their responses, and that will help you write better articles. You will form a bond with them, and together you will stimulate the economy. The customers are your friends. Pretend like you haven’t written to them in forever. You have so much to say and it’s all about his great new product.

Marketing communications is a large field. We’ve only discussed article marketing today. Still, that’s enough to base an entire career on. The better you get at article marketing the better you will be at marketing communications. They go hand in hand. So practice your writing skills and become a better article marketer. Your career will thank you for it.