Should Your Business Be Using Facebook in Your Marketing Communication Strategy?

Introducing new and innovative marketing concepts into your existing marketing communication strategy can give the most confident of business owners more than a few sleepless nights, however, anyone who knows anything about marketing knows that you need to be where your customers are to sell your products or service and right now your customers are on Facebook. So while it may seem a little overwhelming and risky to go ahead and introduce Facebook into your marketing communication strategy, the marketing strategy of allowing yourself to get down there with your clients to learn more about their needs, and how you can better serve them, leaves the impression with your clients that you are truly interested in earning their business and money as well.

If you are unsure if your business should use Facebook in your marketing communication strategy here are a few reasons why you should:

1. 350 Million and growing

Facebook has proudly announced recently that they had passed 350 million members, meaning, if it were its own country, it would be the third largest in world. What better way to utilize a free marketing tool?

2. 100 Million U.S. Users
With over 100 million US users you are introducing yourself to the entire US nation of consumers in one location, with the potential for them to read about your business what you have to offer, clients can leave comments, and you can introduce a FAQ page from your site as well. This is the top leader in social networking today.

3. An hour a day

On average there will be an hour a day per Facebook user. This is more face time than any radio or billboard ad that you would spend thousands if not millions of dollars on for advertising, yet another great reason to introduce Facebook as your business marketing communication strategy.

4. Nearly 80,000 Sites Using Facebook Connect

Now your clients do not have to get online (at a PC) in order to get to Facebook or see posts, advertisements or apps. There are over 80,000 different locations online, and phones that offer the Facebook app. Currently Facebook is leading over Google as the main website as well; Just another reason to introduce your business marketing communication strategy to Facebook.

With these four reasons, introducing Facebook into your businesses marketing communication strategy becomes less of a risky undertaking. Not only is Facebook free for personal and professional use, you will be saving fistfuls of cash that would normally be spent on advertising, while raking in the profits from any new clientele you can earn through Facebook.

If you’re still harboring any doubts about whether or not to introduce Facebook into your business marketing communication strategy than perhaps you should log into your Facebook account and check out your competitors Facebook page and see what you are missing out on.

Developing A New Marketing Communications Plan For Small And Midsized Companies

As you begin, or refine, your marketing and marketing communications planning for the coming year, you’re probably a little uneasy about whether you’re maximizing your strategy, budget, plan, executions and measurement. Whether you’re a B2C, B2B or nonprofit marketer, it might help to know you’re not alone. It’s always a challenge to develop these plans, but especially now.

In fact, 93 percent of Chief Marketing Officers say they’re under more pressure to deliver significant ROI, while only eight percent say they can determine ROI for their social media efforts.

Marketing And Marketing Communications Challenges
Our continued unsettled economic and political landscape and changing demographic patterns, coupled with the explosion of new communications tactics, along with a plain lack of trust between buyers and sellers, has led to the increasing levels of uncertainty that we all feel. In developing new plans and strategies, this translates into a host of considerations:

  • Expenditures for major media (as led by television, yes television) and marketing services (as led by sales promotion) in the U.S. are projected to total an all-time high of $406 billion in 2015. That’s a staggering $1,262 per person (Zenith Optimedia)! Beyond the dollars, that’s a lot of clutter and competition.
  • Conversely, median household income declined 8.7 percent between 1999 and 2013 to $51,939 (Census Bureau Current Population Survey). During this time, most buyers have learned how to spend their hard earned dollars more cautiously.
  • The two largest and most important age cohorts are very different. Millennials are more willing to buy lesser known brands, don’t see ownership per se as an aspiration, and are cash strapped. On the other hand, the brand loyal Boomers will account for about 70 percent of U.S. disposable income in 2017 (Quirk’s Market Research).
  • No one expected the efficiency and simplicity of emails to reach today’s volume, as businesses now spend nearly one-third of their work week managing them (McKeney & Company). Maybe declaring an email holiday is in order.

And, if you’re unsure or apprehensive about next year, perhaps your customers and prospects are too.

Improving Marketing And Marketing Communications ROI
So what can be done to develop a better overall program? I believe there are important steps you should consider for improving ROI.

1. You really need to know what your customers and prospects want and need, how they perceive your product or service, and how your brand stacks up to completion. Avoid corporate myths and mere opinion, and employ market research to focus your planning.

2. Be sure to understand the full demographic scope of your customers and prospects today and how they will change in the future. Consider the continuing dramatic growth of the Asian and Hispanic populations and include them in your planning.

3. Make sure your employees, reps and distributors completely understand, believe and can articulate your brand promise. Encouraging them to be dedicated brand ambassadors can dramatically increase your brand’s awareness and positive reputation.

4. Go out of your way to be media neutral. With so many new tactics to explore, make sure that, when you compare traditional and new media, you know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. For example, a recent Gallup study among 18,000 consumers reported that 62 percent said social media had “no influence at all on their buying decision”.

5. Sharpen and integrate your messaging across media through a marketing communications audit. Before committing your already stretched revenues, conduct an audit to help determine the strengths and weaknesses of your program as a whole, as well as how each individual communications tactic and message does or does not meet your objectives.

Done properly, these actions will help you develop a more knowledgeable, coordinated, focused and profitable roadmap for next year’s journey. But how do you actually begin that journey?

Marketing Communications Consultants Add Value
No one doubts that smart, dedicated people have been involved in developing your current marketing communications strategy, budget and plan. But, if you’re like most small and midsized companies, your people are probably stretched to the limit, and/or simply may not possess the background to oversee this process in the most knowledgeable way.

Because of this many companies have partnered with established, senior level consultants, to help develop, refine and, if appropriate, implement the program. If you consider this option, make sure the consultant has extensive experiences across disciplines, as well as a variety of industries and brands, so he or she won’t be trapped by the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality. You want an apolitical team, with a willingness to “tell it like it is”. Fresh eyes can be a major asset to your profitable growth.

In today’s challenging environment, a focus on upfront planning can go a long way toward improving your marketing communications ROI.

Multiple Forms Of Marketing Communication – Helping You Reach Your Widest Target Audience

You’ll have heard the saying ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ and when it comes to your marketing communications you really do need to take that on board! Using just one or two types of marketing communication can be a risky business.

But, just to confuse matters a little more (!), using too many different marketing communications can be just as dicey…

So, what direction should you be taking?

Well, in short, you should be focusing on 4 or 5 marvellous marketing communication types to ensure you have all avenues covered. Should you continue to focus on just one you can be sure that you won’t reach the widest audience possible. Also, what would happen if the one and only communication type you are using is no longer flavour of the month?

It goes without saying that your aim, where your business is concerned, is to reach as many people within your target audience as is possible.

No two people are the same – the world would be very boring if we were… So, to be sure that you are reaching all of these different personalities, it’s essential that you include a variety of marketing options to be sure you appeal to the largest chunk of this medley of personalities within your target audience.

As with many things these days, different marketing methods are in and out of fashion at the blink of an eye… If the marketing model you are using goes out of fashion overnight, you have a problem and will need to work quickly to implement something new. The trouble with this is that ‘rash’ decisions aren’t often good decisions. Plus, you’ll have lost valuable marketing time while you sort the issue out.

Also, different people have their likes and dislikes of various forms of communication. Some people love e-mail delivery, but you’ll have some who don’t even use e-mail (imagine that…) or they are so fed up with receiving e-mail in droves that it no longer has the desired effect. Or, they may feel that the e-mail being sent doesn’t focus on relationship building and is too ‘salesy’ from the outset – the opt-out button is hit in one split second… So, it may be that the e-mail phobics would be better suited to direct mail.

Then there are those that don’t own a fax, but do use Facebook. They love social media and Blog reading, so maybe that’s how you should be marketing to them.

So you catch the drift. What one person likes, the next person doesn’t. Your quest is to find out who likes what and the types of communication that people will marvel at!

For example, if you look and note that a proportion of your target market is male, age 18-35 and living in an urban area. It is likely that social media communications would be a better fit than direct mail.

To fulfil your quest, you need to be sure to test and track your marketing. You could even ask for feedback on your marketing methods to help you understand what is liked best and by who.

So, in summary, to be sure that your marketing system is durable and robust:-

– Never focus on just one lonesome type of marketing communication

– Be sure to interface multiple marketing communications

– Track and test what type of communication works best and with who

– Ask for feedback on your marketing communications

Multiple marketing communications are important to ensure that you reach the widest audience possible and to be sure that they get to know about your offering!

2013 Marketing Communications – Six Strategic Tips For Midsized Companies And Nonprofits

Everyone – organizations and consumers alike – continues to be wary of the ongoing negotiations in Washington associated with the fiscal cliff. It will take time to sort out the impact of what finally gets resolved, but marketers know they can’t wait any longer to determine how to aggressively promote their products and services now.

Whether you’re a business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C) or nonprofit marketer, you’ve probably also been overwhelmed by the countless claims, and counter claims, about if – and how – to use all the various forms of “new” marketing tools – social media, mobile, content marketing, email and video. Some experts project the demise of email marketing as social media and video sharing grow in importance. Others stress the need for mobile marketing, while even others shout “Content is King” (first coined by Bill Gates in 1996). All will continue to be important, but these decisions, coupled with the economic environment, means that the marketer’s world is more complicated than ever.

Rather than endlessly pondering these choices, maybe this is the time to put these latest tactics into perspective, and focus on some basic marketing and marketing communications strategies for 2013.

Target Audience Knowledge Trumps Opinion

A deep, reliable and projectable understanding of your existing and potential clients, customers or donors is key to developing effective and profitable strategies and plans. And that means market research.

Marketers should fully understand the wants, needs and attitudes of their target audiences, and how these factors relate to the organization, as well as competition. Facts, not opinions.

Employ market research and monitor social media discussions and behaviors to determine what’s important to your constituents before your tactical plans are developed. In other words, “Look before you leap.”

Embrace The Changing Demographic Landscape

With nearly 315 million people in the US alone, the dramatic growth of older consumers is significant and should be recognized. Does your customer and prospect planning take them into consideration? And does your planning recognize that:

  • 21 percent of the workforce is now 55+ years of age, and they plan on working well past traditional retirement age;
  • The number of people 65 and older was 40 million in 2009 but is projected to be 60 million in 2020 (US Census Bureau);
  • While 69 percent of those aged 18 – 49 used social media, only 38 percent of those aged 50 and above use any form of social media.

Acknowledging the growth and absolute size of this huge audience in your planning presents a major opportunity. And, depending on your product or service, you might want to go through this exercise for other demographic groups – Hispanics, Asians, younger people, women, etc. Understand them and make sure you relate to their needs. In summary, “Board a trend, don’t buck it”.

Don’t Discount Traditional Media

New media offers exciting potential and will grow significantly in importance. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about “old” media. Both new and traditional media have value and both should be considered in planning your overall media mix. That means that strategically you need to fully understand their relative effectiveness, not just their efficiency.

And, would it surprise you to learn that traditional media is actually becoming “new” media for some marketers:

  • Commercial and nonprofit marketers will spend $169 billion in direct marketing, representing over half of all US advertising expenditures (DMA’s Response Rate 2012 Report);
  • There were 195 new print magazines launched in 2012 (MediaTrends.com); According to Forrester Research, while consumers discover new brands, products or services by talking to friends (80%) and online searches (79%), television advertising is a strong third (71%);
  • While the average consumer receives 14 – 15 email selling messages a day, the average household receives only 2 – 3 direct mail promotions per day (USPS);
  • Despite the record breaking political spending in 2012, national cable television advertising is still expected to grow by 11 percent, while billboard spending will increase by 5 percent and radio by 3 percent (Zenith Optima).

New versus traditional media should not dominate the discussion. Rather, how you strategically develop your media mix should be on the front burner. Above all, be “media neutral”.

Anniversary Marketing Invigorates Established Organizations

Your anniversary provides an opportunity to leverage your past strengths while communicating your vision for the future. Your history and your plans for the future can have a meaningful impact on an already nervous audience of employees, channel partners and suppliers, much less existing and potential clients, customers or donors. Galvanize them to the road ahead.

A 12 to 18 month fully integrated anniversary marketing program provides a unique opportunity to unify and focus all of your efforts across your constituents. And a 35th anniversary can be as impactful as a 50th or 75th. Just don’t make the mistake of merely adding an anniversary logo to your messaging, or just having a celebratory party. Your message will fall on deaf ears.

Get Better As You Get Bigger

With market turbulence over the past few years, some in the C-Suite question the ability of marketing to profitably drive the organization to new heights. Lack of understanding or lack of trust may be an issue. Maybe it’s time for unbiased, fresh eyes to conduct a marketing communications audit.

This type of audit can provide an apolitical evaluation of your program as a whole, as well as how each marketing communication tactic does or does not meet established objectives. Recommendations from this audit can help everyone understand where improvement is needed, what’s registering with your constituents (internally as well as externally), what subjects and benefits should be stressed and, importantly, provide the organization with an integrated roadmap of how, when and where your messaging should be delivered.

The audit should give you the tools to maximize your marketing communications ROI before significant dollars are committed. Trust and confidence should follow.

Round Out Your Marketing Team

There will be many challenges facing marketers in 2013 and beyond. And, chief among them will be having a dedicated, smart, apolitical team, developing, creating and analyzing marketing communications strategies, tactics and plans to meet the uncertainties ahead.

A lot of smart thinking has already gone into developing the disciplines you need but, like most midsized companies and nonprofits, you may be understaffed and underfunded. Consider partnering with established, media neutral, senior level marketing communications consultants to help your team formulate, refine and implement your programs. Be sure they have extensive experience across brands and industries, as well as a willingness to “tell it like it is” so candor will flourish.

Most probably 2013 and the near future will present marketers with a very rocky road to travel. Hopefully, some of these tips will help, but as Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”.