Making Effective Messages
By Melinda Collins
In sport, most amateurs stumble along grabbing the occasional win with no clear action plan. Professionals, on the other hand, march in with an effective strategy and take out the game. In business, as with sport, strategy can make all the difference.
When promoting your business, this strategy is known as marketing. As simple as this seems, it is still where confusion is often found.
Advertising is a single component of the marketing process. It is the part that involves getting the word out concerning your business, product or the services you are offering. It involves placing advertisements in newspapers, direct mail, billboards and television. While advertising is the largest expense of most marketing plans, it is not marketing.
Marketing encompasses your entire game plan or strategy. It is the systematic planning, implementation and control of a mix of business activities designed to take that product or service to the market. Marketing incorporates everything an organisation does to facilitate an exchange between company and consumer.
US based BN Branding’s director John Furgurson describes the difference. “Every year millions of dollars are wasted on advertising that is well-produced, but not very well thought-out. Rather like a supermodel… nice to look at but there’s just no substance there.”
So if you think that because you’re advertising, you’re marketing – think again.
If you are simply advertising separate from any greater marketing strategy, you’re doing only half a percent of what your marketing campaign can and should do, Bold Horizon senior brand strategist Wayne Attwell says.
“Too often struggling and confused companies throw money into costly advertising campaigns, new websites or glossy brochures, believing them to be the ‘cure-all’ for slow sales or lost marketshare.
“In reality however, advertising and promotions are only the tactical implementation of a well planned marketing strategy and when effectively integrated into the overall marketing mix the results can be outstanding. But all too often the underlying marketing strategy is sadly lacking.”
Attwell says some key elements need to be in place before you can plan and execute an effective marketing campaign:
Your potential markets may be spread over large geographic areas, so apply the 80/20 rule
“Identify a realistically manageable segment of the market your company can accurately target, considering your capabilities, limitations and available budget.”
Get to know your customer
“If you don’t know your customers, how will you know what to say to them in your marketing and advertising message?”
Know what sets you aside from competitors and what you’re up against
“Developing and understanding your unique points of difference is arguably the most critical part of your marketing strategy and should supersede any tactical programmes. A deep understanding of your competitor should be an essential part of your marketing strategy. By understanding the habits, likes, dislikes and buying triggers of our target market customers, we are better equipped to decide on the best method of interacting with them.”
Don’t forget your customers are still human
“Why do we so often forget to appeal to the human needs of our corporate and industrial buyers? Instead we try to bombard them with a long list of technical features of our product, forgetting to appreciate and satisfy their decision making criteria and personality type.
Advertising expenditure should be a component of a larger plan, opposed to an isolated entity in itself
“Marketing is certainly a mixture of art and science but no matter which side of the equation you stand on, having a strong marketing strategy in place is essential for success.”