While having coffee with a potential client, the founder of a tech startup, I listened as he spoke about his challenges regarding communicating with potential customers.
Does this sound familiar to you?
“My IT guys say the website is outdated. The marketing intern says we need to be active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The sales guy says we’re wasting money by not targeting the right people. The investors/mentors have opinions on how to describe what we do. I am confused on where to begin and what to do?”
It was a struggle I have had hundreds of entrepreneurs mention on almost all the occasions I have met them.
Most of them often confuse tactics (such as website design, social media presence etc.) with a strategy.
Instead of simply following the basic marketing communications model and tackling the steps one by one, they keep thinking about everything at once and get nothing done.
Define Your Objective
An effective marketing communications strategy starts with the why. Why are you doing what you’re doing?
Determining the objective is important because it’ll tell us what type of message we need. Your objective can be to:
- Get featured in the media (newspapers, online publications etc.)
- Get sales from customers who abandoned the shopping cart
- Capture leads or sales from an advertising campaign
- Get backlinks from authority websites and bloggers
Each of these objectives can be split into a series of small objectives, making it easier to manage and achieve.
Who Are The Target Audience(s)
Who do you want your message to reach? Gamers who like action games? All the people with job title CTO in California? Venture Capitalists interested in cloud technologies? Employers looking for Python developers?
Even a single set of audience can sometimes get tricky and have various subsets. If you’re a business selling a product to other businesses, for example, then who is your audience?
• The users of the product?
• Their seniors or managers?
• The person who controls the budget?
If you’ve been interacting with customers, you will have some idea of who’s involved in the whole process.
So you should be creating value propositions for each of these groups. When you have multiple audiences to deal with, each set will require a different message.
If you understand your audience, then you’ll know what they need and can really improve your chances of crafting a killer message and getting what you want.
What’s Your Message
A clear, compelling message is essential to getting what you want. On a broad level, a message answers 3 questions:
• What’s your offer?
• Why should the audience care?
• What do you want them to do?
The message is not just a feature of your product or service. It should be something that relieves a pain, creates a gain or both.
After your audience gets the message, then what’s the call to action? Do you want them to enquire through a phone call, download a free demo, visit your store or website or do something else?
Platform/Format Of The Message
Media means the type of platforms through which your audience primarily consumes content – via reading, listening or watching. It could be:
• Print media (newspapers, magazines, journals)
• Internet & social media (websites, emails, podcasts)
• Broadcast media (TV, radio)
• Social interactions (meetings, events, presentations)
The best way to find out your target media is to ask prospects and customers about how they come to know about new products.
After you’ve chosen a couple media, you’ll need a media strategy which describes the mix of media you’ll use and how.
There are many formats which can be used to create and deliver your message. You can start with one, but sooner or later you’ll need to turn your message into more in order to expand your reach.
• In-person meeting, presentation or seminar
• Virtual meeting, presentation or webinar
• A PDF, PowerPoint presentation or infographic
• A video, webcam recording or screencast
• Blog post, text advertising or landing page
• An email, live chat, or sms message
• A radio voiceover or podcast episode
Depending on your target audience, the context and platform, you may want to convey your message in one or more of these formats.
For example, a presentation is the norm for fundraising, and infographics work best when promoting an idea or business on Pinterest.
A great marketing communication strategy is always a work in progress. Each time you have some new information or insight, you’ll want to improve the pieces.
Your message will reflect the lessons learned and growth from experimentation, testing and feedback. It’s not a one-time thing. If something is working for you, keep doing it on a regular basis.