Marketing communications is the organization of the process by which information about a product is communicated to the target audience to obtain feedback. It may not be expressed in explicit actions, like immediate purchase of the product or an instant game at a betting company. For some types of marketing communications, it’s enough for a person to simply hear the name of the company several times. The calculation is that brand recognition will be raised, and in the future people will choose a product from a company they are already familiar with.
Philip Kotler, an American marketer, wrote about marketing communications: “Marketing communications may be called a “voice” of the brand and a means to establish a dialogue and relations with the consumer”. Kotler divides them into advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, and public relations. They can be used simultaneously or combined with each other. For example, a person is first shown an ad for a sale, and when he makes a purchase, he is given a gift from the company, thereby increasing customer loyalty One effective way to streamline your marketing communications is by integrating a chat API, which allows for seamless real-time customer interactions on your website.
When several marketing messages run simultaneously or sequentially, it’s called marketing mix. Now this system is used more often, because with the advent of the Internet, people have more sources of information. By incorporating QR codes in your marketing communications, you can provide a seamless and interactive experience for your audience, allowing them to quickly access information, promotions, or even make purchases with just a scan. If the message is delivered through different channels, the chances are greater that people will perceive it. Therefore, advertising in video clips, banners on websites, posts in social networks are often used simultaneously.
The essence of the concept of integrated marketing communications is that all communications of a brand should bring the single message to the audience and not contradict each other. The basis for this is the positioning of the company. If a company promotes itself as modern, technological and aimed at working mainly with young people, all communications must comply with these characteristics – you should write texts on the site and in social networks in simple language, choose speakers and models for advertising, which correspond to the target audience, etc.
What Are the Purposes for Which Marketing Communications?
The general purpose of marketing communications always coincides with the purpose of marketing – increasing profits. There are more specific goals which separately may not provide a profit here and now, but in aggregate they implement the overall goal after some time.
For example, the purpose of one of the directions of marketing communications of the company is to increase recognition by 15% for 6 months. The goal of another direction is to create a positive image of the company through charity events. These activities aren’t likely to increase profits quickly, but they will influence future purchasing decisions. People will remember the company more often, recognize it among competitors and remember that it has a good reputation. That’s why big brands often conduct promotions and events that, at first glance, do not bring benefits. For example, McDonald’s had a charity event that helped seriously ill children under treatment not to be separated from their parents.
It turns out that first you need to define the goals of the company, and then select the tools for implementation. For example, if you want to increase sales in the short term, then contextual or targeted advertising will show the result better than reputational billboards with general information about the company.
Types of Marketing Communications
ATL and BTL
The most well-known classification of types of communications in marketing is the division into ATL and BTL advertising. ATL-advertising are the types of advertising communications that call for a purchase in the near future and at the same time do not personalize the audience. For example, these are commercials on television or banners on the streets.
BTL advertising is traditionally understood as so-called “additional” types of advertising, which usually don’t bring a large number of leads relative to total traffic. For example, tastings in stores, distribution of flyers, sales at consultations.
ATL and BTL is a traditional classification, which appeared in the XX century. Then it was difficult to personalize advertising, but now there are new types of advertising with features of both ATL and BTL. They are called TTL. Typically, TTL advertising first attracts a wide audience using ATL methods, and then personalizes the offer for each customer. For example, you can run a broad campaign with a marketplace ad, and after the person goes to the site, offer a choice of product categories for which he will be given a personalized discount.
Intentional and Unintentional
This classification was proposed by English researchers P. Smith, C. Barry and A. Pulford. Intentional or planned communications – those that were organized specifically to influence the target audience. Unintentional or unplanned – those that occurred by accident.
The challenge for business is to minimize unintentional communications. Here’s why it’s important: the consumer interacts with the company not only through advertising or PR actions. Brand interaction with the user is evident in everything: in product packaging, in communication between operators, in the neatness of the couriers. It often happens that the company directs its efforts to one area – for example, creates and develops a corporate blog which the audience likes. But at the same time, it forgets about other elements, and customers are regularly delivered sloppily packaged goods. So it’s important to keep track of all points of potential communication with your target audience and customers so you can monitor them.
Personal and Non-personal
This is a classification based on the type of contact. Personal communications are those communications where the interaction is built between a few people or an individual and the audience. Non-personal communications where there is a marketing message that doesn’t come from a person and is addressed to a wide range of people.
At first glance, it may seem that companies, especially large ones, don’t fit the first way because a brand can’t communicate with a person one-on-one. But this problem is solved by using a “brand face”: they invite stars to star in their commercials, publish posts and videos in social networks on behalf of a company employee, or use mascots through which they interact with the customer in a playful way.
This doesn’t mean that you should always try to choose both types of communication. In some industries this may not be relevant at all – for example, if a company manufactures equipment for B2B customers who are solely focused on price and technical characteristics. Therefore, the type of interaction should be chosen so that it potentially helps achieve the goal.
Short-term, Medium-term, and Long-term
Short-term communications are those that have a strictly defined calendar time frame, such as promotions. Medium-term are those that are planned over several months or quarters: the purchase of advertising on different platforms. Long-term communications are those that don’t change for several years. They include corporate identity, company principles, etc.
How to Make a Marketing Communications Strategy
The marketing communications strategy is made on the basis of the overall marketing strategy of the business. It represents a plan of action with specific steps to achieve one or more goals. Here, marketing communications serve as the tools by which all marketing activities reach the target audience – from large-scale advertising campaigns to website design. Let’s consider how to select marketing communications when building a marketing strategy.
At this stage, analyze the demand for the product, the purchasing power of the audience, and the capacity of the market. For example, the company has an innovative product, the demand for which has not yet been formed. In the first stages, it will most likely be necessary to choose such channels of marketing communication which will tell the audience about the product and its useful properties – training videos, integration with bloggers who will demonstrate the product, etc.
Defining the Target Audience
Features of communication channels should be considered for each segment of the target audience. If people under 30 most often interact with the company via social networks, it’s better to focus on them. A pensioner who doesn’t use the internet can be told about a product offer through outdoor advertising. A student who has the grocery store app installed can be sent a push notification.
At this point, it’s helpful to examine the types of communications your competitors use. For example, find out that all of your competitors only use outdoor and television advertising. Based on this information, you can make a decision about the choice of advertising communications: whether to test alternative channels. These may include ads in the media, billboards, advertising on the Internet, etc.
Making a Financial Plan
The choice of marketing communications directly depends on the budget. It may happen that instead of five types, you have to leave only the three most effective.
At this stage generic goals are formed and the indicators of marketing communications are determined. Evaluation methodologies may vary. Some companies assess only the overall goal achievement for the entire marketing block, somewhere they divide the types of communications into groups (PR, targeting, etc.), and somewhere they look at the success of each type separately. It’s important to fix the desired indicators in advance to be guided by them when executing the plan.