Preparing Brands for Digital Age
Marketing Communication Strategy
What is the first thing you think of when you read the words ‘marketing communication strategy’?
It is definitely not a marketing strategy.
By marketing communication (or Marcom), we mean how you communicate about your products and services to your markets (target audience).
Most people think that once they have created a website, company collaterals and a presentation, they have covered their Marcom strategy.
Well, nothing could be further from the truth.
Till such time that your website and collaterals are not compelling the reader to take the action you want them to do, you have not strategized enough.
Ever since the digital realm unfolded in our professional lives, there has been a paradigm shift in the way every working person speaks, sells, broadcasts, markets, or services.
With the advent of social media, there has been unparalleled transparency being expected from corporates and rightfully so. We are in an era where professional and personal responsibilities are being pegged at high standards, given the current political climate and environmental degradation.
Since times immemorial any narrative produces a counter-narrative in every aspect. This conflict has never become more evident than in today’s world.
In this scenario, for marketers, digital marketing assumes an added responsibility.
Social Media Marketing
The world has never been more ‘socially’ connected than in today’s day and age. Whether ‘social’ or ‘anti-social,’ we cannot afford to ignore this compelling narrative.
Whether you are selling in a B2C or a B2B environment, companies are making their presence felt in this medium, especially if they are selling to the forever online digital millennials.
A considerable part of creating a brand online is on social platforms. If you are selling consumer goods, or you are a fashion designer, a jewelry retailer, or a restaurant, a big chunk of your customer engagement comes via social platforms. That there are new platforms which keep coming up every so often, makes it even more exciting for brands to keep up with!
Why should Content be a part of your strategy?
What do people mean when they say ‘Content is King’.
Well, I can change it to say ‘content is queen’ because after all, the queen is the most central character in a chess game. Right?
But we are digressing!
Imagine a visual world, where there are no words to aid any meaning to your visual sensation.
There would be a massive confusion because everybody will interpret the message according to their individual thought processes.
What will that mean for a marketer?
Marketing is mainly about managing perceptions. If you can say with your words what you want the customer to feel or think, then they will not make conjectures about your products and services. They will know what to think about you unless their experiences tell them otherwise!
Media Relations has been a much-flogged horse in the corporate world since the nineties started.
Equally made out a villain by the media and the corporate clients, most times the poor PR folks find themselves in the crosshairs of each or both the stakeholders they are trying to build bridges for.
It’s a classic case of ‘shooting the messenger’ folks!
Media needs to understand that a PR person is just trying to get a message across, and if they could just acknowledge it and give a straight, honest and quick answer about its printability, they will not have so many follow-ups clogging their email box.
The corporate honchos need to understand that journalists are not on your payroll. They will print a missive only if they find the message relevant to the publication’s vision and integrity. If it is a copy boasting your achievements than change the messaging to how it affects your stakeholders and what benefits it brings to your publics. Because, believe it or not, almost every journalist is a socialist at heart and feels for the common man.
When the internet started in the eighties, nobody would have imagined that your digital footprint would assume so much importance.
A website is your digital signature, an address where people come to look you up, size your worth and decide if they want to associate with or buy from you.
It has become the frontrunner and single most important tool in your kit. If you don’t have a website, for all purposes, you don’t exist for the digitally connected world.
In a way, the internet has also been a great leveler between the resource-full and the resource-less!
There are many entrepreneurs who run an online ‘only’ business, thriving on their intellectual capital without feeling the need to prove themselves to the customers through an offline presence.
Website, then, becomes a vehicle of your capabilities, competence, and expanse. Therefore it is imperative to give it time and effort and ensure that your content conveys your vision and intent clearly.
Client Case Study
Positioned as earned media, case studies take on an enhanced hue of credibility just because you are not the one who is talking about your product; but a third party is, who has used your product and appreciated it.
When HLL introduced the now-famous ‘Lalita Ji’ surf ads on our TV screen in the seventies, the impact of a customer testimonial was brought powerfully home to many homemakers. They could identify with the beautiful sari-clad soft-spoken, intelligent lady who emphasized on buying the right detergent, even though it may be a little expensive than the popular one. It didn’t take long for the moolah to roll in for Hindustan Lever.
That, to our recollection, was the first-ever customer case study done by any corporate company. And it worked. It still works! We have done umpteen case studies and white papers for our clients over the last 17 years and each one is impactful enough to raise a query, induce curiosity, and spark an inquiry.
When presented to a hesitant customer, a testimonial is a powerful inducement in making them sign on the dotted line.
Is there any reason left for you not to do it?
Blogging has taken an altogether new dimension nowadays. It has become a standalone profession for many millennials.
Blogs of different hues, shapes, and forms are being published very regularly on websites like Medium, Tumblr or even LinkedIn. It has become fashionable for the intelligentsia to have their blogs online.
As a company, how does it help you to have a website updated with regular blogs?
Well, for one, it organically ranks you higher with Google, since your website is continually being updated with new content.
If the content is keyword fortified and has multiple links, then forward linking is strengthened. If you post these blogs on third party sites, then your backlinking becomes stronger too.
Your customers can gauge your competence and capabilities through your words.
You prospective employees can understand your vision and the way ahead for the company through your blogs.
In the age of social media, to many new-gen people, Email may seem to be the uncool country cousin to social media. However, it is still the single most effective approach to reach out to your captive database.
Your social media posts do not appear organically to your followers or everyone who has liked your page, but email marketing delivers your missive directly into your target audiences’ mailboxes.
So whether it is a new product or service launch, a new center or branch opened, any achievement or even an acquisition, the best way to reach out is to send an emailer.
For your partners, regular emails keep them updated on company news or anything that concerns them. You can send your SPIFFS or other promotional messages directly across to them.
So indeed it is an underrated but extremely useful means of communication
Almost every company honcho I meet has this core wish of his/her company being thought of as a ‘thought leader’ or a ‘technology leader’ in the industry they operate in.
Come to think of it; it has almost become de rigueur for a CXO to wish this.
To bring this about a sustained strategy needs to be followed, of which White Papers are a crucial component.
A white paper primarily talks about the technology or innovation which the company has patented or perfected in any form. It is not a marketing document; it is a very technical factual document, which talks about the industry and technological innovation.
A white paper, if written well, can establish and solidify a company’s ‘thought leadership’ positioning in the industry. It is an art that not many people have perfected so far.
If your company is operating in a non-technical industry, it requires a strategic approach to write these white papers on carefully premeditated topics of relevance, to ensure you are positioned as a thought leader.
Many millennials exclaim that newsletters are old school.Well, it will do us good to remember that not everything old is passé. Newsletters, if done well, in print or digital format, tell your story the way you want to.
Surprisingly even political parties have started dispatching monthly newsletters of their achievements considering that public memory of ‘gain’ is shorter than any ‘pain’ they feel! Why should you send newsletters in the age of LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter?