In our hyper-technological world, communication methods change at an incredibly rapid pace.
First there was email, then message boards, then instant messaging, then MySpace and Friendster, and now Facebook, Instagram, chatbots, Netflix, and dozens of other communication methods.
There are always new technologies, and new ways for people to interact with others. This is also true when it comes to marketing methods and the tools that are available for marketing.
But it’s tough. With so many options and so much information out there, how can you know what is working for your business, and what isn’t? How can you create a marketing strategy that will work today, in 2018?
Below are four steps that you can take to take your business to the next level of marketing communication:
Step #1: Define Your Audience
When it comes to marketing, it’s critical to first figure out who your audience is. You don’t want to create such a broad marketing campaign that your business fails to connect with any specific groups, and you don’t want to make your focus so narrow that you miss out on potential sales.
Instead, identify who you want to market your product or services to, and figure out what works for them.
What do you need to know about your audience?
To identify your ideal demographics, determine what your business is really offering. In other words, what is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? Most businesses offer solutions that are very specific to pain points their customers feel.
For example, if you own a lawn care business, your target audience might be people who are too busy to maintain their yard. Your marketing message should communicate that your services will free up their time so that they can do the things that they need and want to do.
While analyzing the pain points that your business alleviates, imagine which demographic groups will have the greatest need. Also, consider which portion of that demographic will have a higher spending threshold. Both of these considerations will equate to quicker sales with less upfront work on your part.
Who Is Already Buying?
Another way to identify your audience is by analyzing who is already using your products or services.
What types of things do they have in common? What age group, gender, location, etc. is making the most purchases? What interests do they share?
Analyzing these questions will give you a good idea of your target market, as well as how you might expand to reach other similar groups.
Who Is Your Competition Targeting?
A good way to understand who your demographic is by seeing who your competition is targeting.
You can choose to seek after the same demographic as they are likely already interested in the same type of products or services, or you can seek out new or niche audiences and fill a gap.
For example, Rolex’s target market is wealthy people who want to purchase a luxury watch. Knowing that, Timex has gone after a completely different market (inexpensive watch buyers).
McDonald’s and Burger King, on the other hand, are competing for very similar markets.
Step #2 Find Out Where Your Audience Spends Their Time
What type of ad platform is your demographic most likely to respond to? Where do they spend most of their time? Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat? Standard television? Print ads? Wherever your audience spends their time most is where you also need to be.
Here are some specifics to consider when trying to determine where your audience spends their time:
Generational advertising is an important consideration when developing a marketing plan because different generations tend to spend their time differently.
While one group is more inclined to respond well to TV ads, another would more likely make a purchase after an ad on social media. How does each generation respond?
Not surprisingly, Generation Z (generally those born between 1995-2012) respond very well to social media ads. Gen Z report that they get as much as 85% of their information about new products on social media.
Since they have not known a time without digital media, Generation Z has developed a very short attention span. This makes them especially attracted to short videos and apps like Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram.
Generation Y (Millennials 1981-1995) like Gen Z, are very apt to use social media and to respond to ads on these platforms. They enjoy Spanchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Millennials are very attached to their smartphones and are a good target for SMS marketing. They tend to value their friend’s reviews over traditional marketing, and love the chance to help with a social cause.
Generation X (1965-1980) is the smallest generation, but they’re the highest spenders after Baby Boomers. They spend a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter, and they also respond well to email marketing.
Generation X spends a lot more time watching traditional TV than Millennials or Generation Z, and they would be more likely to choose traditional TV over streaming if they had to choose one.
They also tend to value in-depth product reviews, and aren’t as image oriented as the younger generations. Blogs with reviews and high quality articles are a good way to connect with this generation.
Baby Boomers (1946-1964) are often considered slow to use technology, but they are actually more technologically capable than they are often given credit for. They also currently hold the largest portion of buying power and do up to 50% of the spending. While it’s true that they are less likely to interact with apps, they are still likely to buy from their laptops and phones. Baby Boomers use Facebook and are also avid email users. Like Generation X, they value in-depth reviews and articles about products.
Step #3 Craft Your Message in the Language of Your Audience
Now it’s time to create a message that will resonate with your key demographics. What REALLY pains them? What are some of their daily challenges, and how can you alleviate those challenges? What kind of humor and tone do they respond to? What is relevant to them?
These are important questions to consider when developing a marketing communication plan. It’s also important to maintain that tone and vision across the various types of communication.
Below are some examples of companies who developed marketing plans that really resonated with their target audiences:
In 2015, David Yeom developed the first online dollar store. He noticed that there was a market that had room for him — namely millennial moms who were not affluent. Yeom stated, “It fills us with a tremendous amount of pride that 80% of the shipments being sent out of our warehouse is to outside California and New York… It’s going to Middle America. And we embrace it.” They developed their site to look like Pinterest – popular among their demographic – and to encourage a browsing-like feel of a dollar store.
Shoppers could look through their inventory without a specific item in mind, and start to fill up their cart. Their site was also created to be extremely mobile friendly, allowing for busy millennial moms to shop when they get a chance.
Again in 2015, the company Always realized that they were losing ground with girls ages 16-24 who were more attracted to social media campaigns and ads that they could connect to on an emotional level. In other words, this age group needed to connect with more than just the functionality of the product.
Always came out with the hashtag #LikeAGirl in response to girls often developing a lower self-esteem at puberty age. They took a phrase “like a girl,” that was often meant derogatorily, and changed it to mean something empowering.
The marketing team used the same tone of empowerment across social media, print, and TV, and created a video that was viewed 85 million times on YouTube. The hashtag #LikeAGirl shot off like like crazy across social media. Not only did the brand see an incredible increase in social media engagement, but they also saw a significant increase in product sales.
Both Hollar and Always demonstrate that once you know your demographic, you can shape your message so it resonates very specifically with it.
Step #4 Use Marketing Communication Tools
When it comes to developing and then deploying an effective marketing plan, there are some highly useful tools available that will make everything work more smoothly. Below is a short list of some of the most useful ones.
Website Analytic Tools
Without a doubt, analytic tools are imperative to a good marketing campaign. What better way to understand who your buying market is then by following those who are already making purchases? Google Analytics is an extremely popular tool that will help you understand your website’s performance status.
Google Analytics keeps track of things like mobile traffic, user conversion rate, demographics, and page values. Whether you use Google Analytics or other analytic tools, this type of tool is a must-have.
Social Media Schedulers
Obviously, social media is an extremely important resource in the marketing world, but managing many social media accounts can become burdensome. This is where social media schedulers come in to play. Social media schedulers give you more freedom of time, and also give you the opportunity to post when your target demographic is most likely to engage with social media.
It’s important for social media accounts to post more often than once a week. Daily posting means more opportunities to engage with your audience and also to stay fresh in their minds. An added benefit is if your day becomes extremely busy, you already scheduled your posts ahead of time allowing more flexibility through the week.
Some free social media schedulers include Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and Buffer.
By Anna Kucirkova, of MastersInCommunications.org