During a tight economy it's more important than ever for businesses to be able to communicate with their existing customers and to reach new ones. This can be a difficult proposition when the natural tendency is to look for places to trim spending. Even if you resist cutting your marketing budget there's the added challenge of capturing customer attention. Between the internet and a 500-station television multiverse, consumers have so many channels of communication available to them that it's hard for small businesses to break through.
It's not about luck!
Effective business communications don't just happen. To get a customer's attention you have to earn it; to do so you need to rise above all the other competing interests. Once attention is earned, you won't want to waste your opportunity with a hastily-conceived strategy or unclear message. This can easily happen if your marketing efforts are only carried out in response to factors such as a competitor's event or an advertising salesperson's call. Reaching the right customer at the right time with the right message takes careful planning and co-ordination.
Successful businesses consider many factors when creating their communications plan including: their reason for marketing (building awareness, driving sales, etc.), the customers they want to reach, the media to be used and the available budget. This is a good start in the planning process, but where does communication by design come in? If you've identified what you want to market and to whom, the next question is how?
Tie it all together
With all the available ways to reach customers it's unlikely that any single one will be enough. Not all of your customers read the newspaper, listen to same radio station or participate in social media. Your chance of reaching distracted consumers increases when you use different media together. For maximum results, you'll need to design your communications to complement each other. A print advertisement or even a business card could include a QR (quick response) code or web address which directs customers to your website for more detailed info, product demo videos and opportunities to make inquiries or a purchase. A brochure or flyer can point customers to a Facebook page to receive regular offers and develop brand loyalty. An email newsletter can offer useful knowledge and exclusive deals urging customers to pick up the phone or walk through your doors.
All of these marketing efforts should be designed to maintain a consistent look by utilizing a repetition of common elements such as images, colours, layout and style. Tone of voice is also important and can be created through content and messaging along with your look to establish strong brand recognition for your business. If you advertise in more than one publication to reach different markets, your efforts are diminished if your ads don't adhere to an identifiable look or express a clearly defined message. It gets worse still if your ads change radically in appearance from issue to issue. This isn't to say you must run the same ad week in and week out, but the repeated use of strong common elements will help create a memorable identity for your business so you don't get lost in the crowd. This can be achieved on even a modest budget, but not if you leave it to chance.
There's no need to go it alone
If you're not certain how to plan your marketing, or if communications design isn't your strong suit, you might consider working with an agency. You'll benefit from their knowledge and experience and find that it's easier to maintain consistency in appearance, messaging and tone of voice if one agency handles all of your creative and design work. Best of all, working with an agency frees you up to do what you do best while they focus on ensuring proper execution of your marketing plan. When this happens you'll have a strong, recognizable brand employing effective business communications that are designed to deliver you the most value.
If you'd like help developing your marketing communications plan, then get in touch, we're just a phone call or email away.