In Part 1, we left off with a discussion of advertising and personal selling. Here in Part 2 we will continue by discussing direct marketing.
Now, direct marketing is a sales method by which advertisers approach target consumers directly with products, information and promotional benefits.
Direct marketing usually comes in various forms:
- Solicited or unsolicited emails;
- Telephone sales;
- Brochures; and
Direct Marketing may also involve compiling and maintaining personal information about prospects and clients.
How Direct Marketing differs from Personal Selling
Both sales tactics involve establishing a direct relationship with individual customers. However, personal selling makes use of sales representatives while direct marketing bypasses the salesperson and instead establishes a relationship with customers through mailings, telephone sales, etc.
This one simply means the distribution of products and services to consumers and businesses via Internet technology.
- Global reach at minimal cost
- Easy to establish a dialogue between companies, suppliers and customers
- Site visits can be measured
- Easy to search and buy products
- Changing prices and catalogs is fast and cheap
- Eliminates the need to haggle or argue with salespeople
Sales promotion is, in essence, a marketing strategy that stimulates consumer purchase by increasing the value or lowering the price of a product, or both.
- Incentives provide a quick boost to sales
- Short term effect
- Excessive use may degrade brand image
Publicity is the deliberate attempt to manage the public’s perception of goods or services through media without paying for the time or space directly.
- Highly credible since the message is delivered by a third party
- Higher readership as compared to technical and trade publication advertisements
- Tendency to lose control. News release content may be distorted or may be completely discarded by media
Sponsorship involves supplying moneys or goods for an event, person, or team in exchange for a specific level of advertising, such as exclusive wear, official drink, or banner hangings. Sponsorship allows you to reach a target audience, improve brand image, build brand loyalty and drive sales.
- Great tool for generating publicity and building your brand
- Demonstrates the company’s goodwill to the community
- Offers an opportunity to entertain business partners
- Growing in popularity because of fragmentation in traditional media
Know and Understand Your Target Audience
A key step in developing cohesive Integrated Marketing Communications is knowing and understanding the needs and wants of your target audience. There’s a big difference between knowing and understanding your prospects, and as an Amazon FBA seller and marketer, you need to do both.
Knowing your target audience means knowing who they are demographically and what their needs are.
However, understanding customers is something else. This is a tool that when leveraged can help small businesses deliver a product with meaningful and compelling value propositions that meet not only present needs, but future and evolving needs as well.
Use these guidelines when seeking to understand your target audience:
- What problems are your customers trying to solve?
- What information is hard for your audience to obtain?
- What are their objectives and what methods do they employ to achieve them?
- What could be the reason customers are going to your competitors?
- Are your customers’ behaviors and preferences changing and evolving? If so, how and why?
Plan and Prepare
If you think you can skip planning and jump right into execution, think again! Lack of planning is a major reason for business failure.
Generally, your marketing plan should include the following:
- Company Analysis.
- Market share
- Customer Analysis:
- Identify target customers
- Convey the needs of these customers
- Show how your products and services satisfy these needs
- Competitor Analysis:
- Market position
- Market shares
Maintain Branding and Consistent Messages
Your brand tells prospects what they can expect from your products and services and how it differs from your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and how you are perceived by others. The foundation of your brand is your logo, packaging, website and promotional materials—all these communicating your brand message as one integrated unit. The intrinsic value of any branded message comes from the viewer’s perceived value of the quality and appeal of your product.
Your brand strategy must be eye catching, extremely persuasive, and exceptional. Out-branding your business rivals is a never-ending battle, and must be constantly reinforced throughout all segments of an organization, Web site, promotional materials, and printed ads.
Generally, you need to take these steps to effectively convey your brand message:
- Identify your target audience (prospects), the products and services you offer and research your competitors
- Establish how you target, position, display and describe your products and services to prospects
- Establish how to obtain prospects’ attention
- Develop what the branded message should convey.
Being relevant means delivering a message to your target audience that’s right on the spot in terms of content and timing. It requires commitment to creating multiple variations of your content. Although the overall goal will be the same, they will have to be customized for specific groups. The strategy includes leveraging technology that allows you to create and send out personalized messages. This is especially true if your customers and prospects have somehow communicated what they are interested in.
Track, Measure and Analyze
Developing an integrated marketing campaign means being ready all the time to capture every piece of data relevant to those actions. Analyze the data to look for trends, successes, and failures. Then, share this information with the various segments in your organization.
While Integrated Marketing Communications carries with it a lot of benefits, there are also many factors that can hinder its success or proper implementation. Make sure that the varying levels of management have understood the agenda—and aim for a consistent message.
Think customers first. Everything you do concerning marketing communications must be centered on the customer’s buying process. Identify the stages they go through before, during and after a purchase. There is a right communication tool for each stage—use them to your advantage. Develop a series of communications guidelines to help customers move easily through each stage.
Last, but not least. Constantly seek out the possibilities of various communications mix. Be flexible and learn from your experience. Always strive to do better and better each time. Only then can you develop a cohesive Integrated Marketing Communications strategy to forge a lasting brand/consumer relationship.