Your customers and prospects have limited attention spans, which means getting your message them is always a challenge.
You might spend weeks or even months fine-tuning what you need to say, and that translates to time, energy and resources you don’t spend on other business matters. Bottom line: Coming up with the right message is expensive, so don’t blow it at the implementation stage.
Marketing Communications Defined
Marketing communications is an umbrella term that describes activities that deliver specific messages to your chosen audience.
Advertising (print and electronic media), sales materials (brochures, catalogs, newsletters), public relations activities (press releases, media relations), and Internet activity (company website, social media) all combine to make up your company’s marketing communications program.
But the presence of so many components increases the chances that mistakes are made – and that, as was just mentioned, can be costly. Besides, because your marketing communications efforts are so public, ineffective or shoddy work can reflect badly on your company
Here are five common mistakes to avoid.
Mistake1: Poor Research
True story: A niche player in the laboratory testing supplies industry spent weeks developing a very high quality e-letter, which was to be sent to the probable decision-maker or equipment buyer at hundreds of hospital, university and clinic laboratories. The e-letter featured product specifications, industry news, case studies, and other valuable information.
But it just did not work.
The problem? It turned out that more than 90% of the cases, the lab tech who was the target reader for the information did not have a computer and e-mail access at work.
Oops. Do your research.
Mistake 2: Lack of Consistency, or Confusion in Messaging
Make sure your messages to the marketplace are uniform. This includes your logo, corporate colors and other physical representations, but also how you explain and present your company’s offerings. (That is, if they’re explained at all. We’ve all watched commercials on television that leave us wondering what the company in the spot actually does or makes.)
For example, if your company is ABC Security, do you provide security guards or alarm systems? Make sure your messages tell your story. Be clear and be consistent. Don’t let your company miss opportunities due to confusion you could have avoided.
On a related note, do your messages clearly play to your company’s greatest strengths or selling points?Which is to ask, do you compete based on quality? Expertise?Experience?Innovation? Pricing? Service? Your messages need to not-so-subtly explain why you’re the best choice for your targeted customers.
Mistake 3: Lack of Patience
It seems strange, but even after spending considerable time and expense on delivering the right messages, many companies drop the ball when it comes to keeping the momentum going. Give your plan a chance to work.
And if a certain part of your marketing communications mix – an ad, a page on your website, etc. – seems to generate interest, figure out why and work to duplicate the effort and response…and keep that part of your message consistent.
Tip: Speaking of consistency, when it comes to customer and prospect contact (newsletters, brochures, etc.), it’s easy to not reach out enough…it’s almost impossible to contact them too much. If you haven’t contacted everyone your company has ever sold to or sent a proposal to at least once in the last six months, you’re probably missing some opportunities.
Mistake 4: The Wrong Tone
This is tricky. You definitely don’t want to come across as talking down to your audience, but you do need to project a degree of authority and competence. The right tone is the one that makes your customers want to read or hear more.
There’s no doubt that we leave in a fairly casual time, so you can get away with a certain amount of informality that would have not been appropriate a few years back.
Still, you need to figure out how your audience wants or needs you to come across. Do your communications need to present your company as precise? Technical? Stable? Hip?
Much depends on the industry you’re in, of course. But this is also a good opportunity to let your company’s culture shine through. If you can afford it, consider testing your messages on some of your established customers and see how they respond.
Mistake 5: Underfunding Marketing Communications
How much you spend on marketing communications depends on the industry you’re in, what your competitors typically spend, short and medium-term circumstances (a new service introduction, for example), and the potential payoffs for investing in the programs.
Every situation is unique, but the danger here is typically in under-spending, at least at first. It’s not unusual for a company in a service-oriented industry to place 20% of its resources (money, personnel, time) into marketing and marketing communications.Some of them might be your competitors. How would your company measure up to that benchmark?
To get started, pull your team together and decide what you can realistically invest, and what you hope to achieve relative to your company’s sales and revenue goals. For more information, see MPStar Financial’s blog posts on marketing budgets and formulating a marketing plan.
MP Star Financial’s invoice factoring services can help ensure you have cash flow needed to effectively run your marketing and sales programs. Call MP Star Financial for more information at (800) 833-3765, extension 150.