Savvy marketers understand that the foundations of marketing are critical in preparing an effective communication strategy.
For many this simple list is, well, simple. It's important that we don't lose sight of the very basic elements of marketing.
1. Know who you are talking to. The audience! Understand what they are reading (if they are reading); what they buy; what they like to do in their spare time; what are their values. Resist the thought that "everyone" is your audience. You may have several audience segments, but no one, not even Coke, captures the attention of everyone.
2. Develop all of your messaging for your unique audience or audiences -- no matter what your president or board thinks. Defend your communication by understanding your audience so well that you are able to support your communication strategies.
3. Integrate. I know, you have heard that so many times it's almost tedious. But strong integration means that you clearly understand your overall messaging. Your web site, social media activities, print and space, outdoor media, phone protocols -- everything is integrated. Your overall communication plan is driven by a central message and goal -- all of the silos are brought into that plan.
4. Measure. Build success ratios and evaluative tools into your plan. State the results you anticipate, track the activities and evaluate success by those measurements. Push away from getting trapped in internal politics or processes.
5. Your "brand" is not a logo... or an icon... or a palette of colours -- although all of those contribute to the personality. Your brand is the promise that you make to your audience. If you do not have a clearly identified brand promise you will find it very difficult to build a strong and vital brand. Put less emphasis on the graphics and much more emphasis on the promise. All communication activities need to be assessed within that promise.
6. Understand the technologies your audience uses and how they use them. This is critical. People have been astounded and deflated at their interaction with new technologies. Facebook is the perfect medium for some businesses -- not so much for others. Search Engine Marketing can be an incredibly effective draw to your web site -- or have little or no effect. Twitter, while I personally love it, is new and not yet proven.
7. Build partnerships that work. Use an agency or service provider that's a partner. Help them understand the full scope of your work. Insist they take responsibility to deliver results and open the door for them to do so. When results overachieve the goal celebrate and evaluate. When results underachieve the goal, be honest and evaluate the communication strategies. Learn from the failures and the successes.
8. Understand that there are many organizations just like you are... this is very difficult to do. But to understand your unique brand and differentiation, you must understand that your competition has similar products, services and promises.
9. Respond to fluctuations in the market, adapting your budget. This is difficult. No one -- not even Nike has an unlimited budget. Smart communicators evaluate their budget on the goals. When cutting costs, we need to ruthlessly cut activities that do not perform, placing our investment capital in areas that will increase our growth.
10. Don't tell, sell. So simplistic! Every piece of communication should be driven by your goal. There is a trend, especially in the non-profit sector to educate expect a response. That is naive, at best. Simply telling the story, without a clear opportunity to respond -- the "what you can do" line -- rarely brings results. Make Poverty History had huge impact if we consider the number of people who wore the band. But no more money has gone into fighting poverty from the government level -- in fact, many countries in the recent economic downturn have focused their investment on other issues. People have responded with their voice, but not with their pocketbook (remember, they weren't asked to).
Now go back up the list. How are you performing?
Build a strong and savvy marketing team. You will get results.