Developing a marketing communications strategy can take some time, not to mention research. However, I have written a digested version for developing a marketing communications strategy that can be used for most small to mid-sized businesses (SMB’s). You can even adapt the list for individual marketing communication campaigns or individual marketing collateral, such as your company brochure or service brochure.
I use the list as a primer with my clients. It helps them organize and focus their marketing communications objectives, mainly for their individual sales campaigns. If you feel you have additional information you want to contribute to the list, feel free to contribute using the comment section below.
5 Steps for Developing a Marketing Communications Strategy
It would certainly seem that people without mobile phones are now in the minority. You see them everywhere. People from all walks of life are carrying them around, using them to communicate with others via voice and text, and many can even surf the web and allow you to shop, make reservations, and do essentially anything else you can do on a computer. Now we can compare phones and understand that the processor at the time was hard enough for our needs today, it was impossible to take a quality picture, and waiting for about a minute to load a website on the Internet for a long time.
This presents a great opportunity to marketers looking to expand their reach beyond the scope of standard internet marketing. SMS text marketing allows us to reach people regardless of where they are or how accessible a standard computer may be to them at the moment. Additionally, competition is far lower, giving you a much stronger presence among your prospects.
Decide on your objective
Every effective, communication plan or strategy requires an objective. This may be a no-brainer to you; however, I have worked with many marketing professionals, and business owners, who do not set objectives other than, “I want more leads or I want more business.”
Here are some questions that will help you develop objectives for your marketing communications strategy:
- Is your marketing strategy for a new product or a re-launch of an existing product you may have improved upon?
- Are you trying to attract new customers/clients?
- Are you looking to communicate with your existing customer base?
- Are you trying to communicate a public service announcement to bring awareness to a cause?
Decide on what want to say about your business, product, or service
Once you know your objective for developing a marketing communications strategy, you need to decide what you want to say about your business, product/service, or cause.
Word choice is important. What you say and how you say it is important too. All too often I come across business owners who have little to no writing experience, who attempt to articulate their message, just to discover that the message does not convey what they want to say.
If you are not experienced in writing headlines, or sales copy, then you may consider hiring a professional copywriter. A well-written marketing piece can be worth its weight in gold, not to mention your bottom line.
Focus on the benefits of your product/service/cause
Features are good, but benefits are what get your readers’ attention. They want to know what your product or service will do for them. I recently worked on a campaign for a security company where the main benefits of the product were:
- Saves them money
- Easy to use
- Provides piece of mind
Notice that the benefits are not about what the product has or is made of, but what the product (or service) will do for your customer.
When writing your benefits, keep the message short, often times breaking the copy up into what is called scatter copy; small chunks of information that can be seen quickly and read quickly on your sales sheet or brochure.
Stay focused and do not ramble. Avoid using highly technical jargon without explaining it, unless, your audience is familiar with the terms.
Use visuals/images to attract attention and reinforce your message
Visuals are important to both attract attention and reinforce your marketing message. Select images that work best with your copy. If graphs or charts are required, make sure they are clearly understood. Do not overuse images just to fill space. “White space” (space on a page without content) is good to help focus your reader’s attention on specific parts of your marketing communications collateral.
Use a creative brief to communicate your marketing collateral objectives
The final step for developing a marketing communications strategy includes the creative brief. Whether you are planning on hiring a professional agency or graphic designer to develop your creative deliverables or marketing collateral, television advertising, website, or radio advertising, you need a plan.
The creative brief is exactly that, a brief that describes the creative work to be completed, plus some additional information. Here are some key points to include in a creative brief:
- Provide background information about your company, product, service, or cause. (Remember point one above, “decide on your objective”?)
- Provide some information about your target audience, who you are trying to reach, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc.
- Any brand attributes, your promise/guarantee, and mission
- What the competition is doing, the competitive landscape
- Your business objectives
- Your offer
- Your call to action: should the target call you, visit your website, visit your store?
- How you will measure the success of the campaign
- Any supporting data: research, surveys, etc.
- The approval process for the marketing collateral/Who’s involved in the approval process
- Timeline for the project to be completed
- Your budget for the project
Developing a marketing communications strategy can become complex. What I have presented to you is a digested version of developing a strategy. The key point is to plan, know your objective(s) and execute the plan. If you feel you are not qualified to develop your marketing collateral, it is best that you hire a professional to do the work. If you have any suggestions or additional thoughts on developing a marketing communications strategy I would encourage you to leave a comment below.