Why you need a marketing communication strategy.
Strategy, strategy, strategy. It’s one of our favourite words at PIER, and with good reason. This month, we’re talking about why you need a marketing communication strategy.
For the uninitiated, a marketing communication strategy is a roadmap that lays out your marketing objectives and the tactics to help achieve them – reaching your target audience with the right message at the right time.
Basically, it boils down to three components: your message, your medium and your target — or, what you’re going to say, where you’re going to say it, and to whom.
What does a marketing communication strategy look like?
Typically, a marketing communication strategy will include the following elements:
- Your mission statement and business objectives. Everything begins and ends with your business objectives. We like to say that they need to be SMART: specific, meaningful, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
- A marketing audit (basically, a look at “where you are now”), including which current endeavours are having the desired results and which aren’t quite working, as well as your current market position.
- A market overview of current trends and competitors.
- A “SWOT” (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) assessment. This will help inform your messaging by shedding light on your vulnerabilities and exploiting the things that give your business an edge.
- A definition of your brand identity (your personality and tone).
- A definition of your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) — that is, what sets you apart from potentially countless other competitors. Your USP becomes the central message at the heart of all of your communications, which helps ensure consistency across mediums and platforms.
- Research that informs your next steps and which direction you are going to take. Primary research is ideal (such as customer surveys), but secondary research from sources such as Google Trends, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Kantar is useful, too. This will help define your audience and their pain points.
- The plan: the communication channels you are going to use to get your message out there. Depending on your business and goals, this might include TV, radio, Facebook, billboard and print ads; PR, events and sponsorship; and content marketing tools such as blog posts, social media and e-newsletters.
- A definition of what success looks like, which will give you something to measure when creating your marketing report. You might include metrics around website visits, backlinks, newsletter signups — or whatever is relevant to your business and goals.
Why is a marketing communication strategy important?
You can probably begin to gauge, just from reading the above list, why crafting a document like this is worth the investment of resources. A marketing communication strategy is important for the same reason that any kind of strategy is important: because it saves you time, energy and effort later on. Essentially, it makes your team more efficient, gets everyone pulling in the same direction and means you’re not flying blind.
This is partly because your strategy will be founded on research (another word we love to use at PIER!). If you’re appropriately researching your audience and their pain points, you’re going to be able to target them more directly, meaning a better ROI (as opposed to a “scattergun” approach, where you could end up spending far too much of your budget on targeting the wrong audience entirely). Research takes you from “we think” to “we know”.
“Sure, you can dive in, start printing brochures or getting social media influencers to spruik your product — but be prepared for disappointment before popping the champagne corks,” says PIER General Manager, Alex Stock. “A much better approach, in our book, is to follow a proper planning process.”
A marketing communication strategy gives you the opportunity to hone your brand identity and combine this with research to form your key messaging. In a marketplace where millions of businesses are vying for consumers’ attention, your messaging needs to be clever and considered. If you have an abundance of direct competitors, then you’ll want to communicate what makes your product or service special (this can be as simple as having had four decades of experience in the industry, or a strong focus on sustainability). If your offering is new and unique, on the other hand, then your messaging has the important job of educating your audience around your innovative (but unfamiliar) product.
It will also help integrate your marketing and communication efforts: your content might look or sound beautiful, but if the message is inconsistent then your audience is going to be confused rather than engaged. Likewise, if your messaging is totally divorced from your business goals, it’s probably not going to deliver the results you want.
Ultimately, a marketing communication strategy gives your team a chance to pause, get on the same page and be proactive — rather than reactive — in your marketing activity. It creates clarity around your business objectives and identity, and crystalises your message, medium and audience.
Need a hand?
If you need a hand crafting your own marketing communication strategy, get in touch with PIER. You could say that strategy is our USP!