Communication, it’s come a long way since the worldwide recognised grunt and nod of the head accompanied by a feeble non-directional point (although this can still be witnessed), even the trusty carrier pigeon has long since become obsolete, destined to enjoy uninterrupted retirement with the few ‘messengers’ that didn’t get shot and plentiful amounts of switchboard operators. Communication is something that has evolved exponentially over the decades and a vital tool that we rely on in modern business to keep things ticking over nicely.

And being such a multifaceted discipline there is naturally going to be a right and wrong way of doing it depending on the outcome that you desire.  So how do you ascertain if you are using the right channels and methods to reach your desired audience?

I will start to answer this by explaining what ‘communications’ means in a marketing sense.

Marketing communications are messages and related media used to communicate with a market.  Marketing communications is the “promotion” part of the “marketing mix” or the “four Ps”: price, place, promotion, and product. It can also refer to the strategy used by a company or individual to reach their target market through various types of communication. Marketing communications is focused on the product/service as opposed to corporate communications where the focus of communications work is the company or enterprise itself.

In other words communications is the method used to broadcast your offering and message to your customer about your product and service.

Now that we know what communications means, the next part of ascertaining if the right channels are being used for your target market is by asking who your target market is. Who are the type of customer that you are trying to communicate to?

Your target market will relate to your product and the type of customer group that your product mostly satisfies and appeals to. For instance, Playstation’s target market are broadly 10-25 year olds who enjoy entertainment and interactive play; Virgin Wine’s are affluent people who are able to afford quality and want it delivered to them.

If you are not sure who your target market is then look at the attributes and demographic of your existing customer base… Who are they? What have the broadly got in common? Age? Location? Online users? Disposable income? Common interests?  All these points will help you build up a detailed picture.

Once you have identified your target and desired markets then you are ready to establish what communication channels and media they use in order to determine the best and most effective way to communicate to them.

A communication channel is simply a medium by which a message is transmitted to an audience. This ranges from printed media (newspapers, magazines etc.), online (email, pay per click ads, websites) to Direct Mail (catalogues, flyers posted to people) and social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.).  There really are hundreds of channels and when they are used together it is called multi-channel marketing

So what channels are your target customers using? Are they online or offline? Do they read newspapers? If so, which ones? Do they read particular magazines? Do they look at particular websites? Do they consume media in a certain way (by email or mobile phone perhaps?).  Are there certain channels that are highly populated with your target market? Use marketing agencies to help you answer these questions correctly. By analysing your existing database, or even identifying your potential new target audience,  you can start to match up based on profiling.

Now ask yourself what your current communications strategy is and whether you are already active in these channels.  If not then they are potentially huge target channels that present excellent opportunities.

Even if you are in a channel that you know your target market consume, you can always maximise. For example, is it the right media title? Does OK magazine work better than Hello? The best way to answer this is to test and compare the channels which will give you direct feedback on whether the channel is working in reaching your audience. Set test metrics in order to compare accurately, some metrics that we recommend are: number of sales, number of new customers or sign ups, number of new site visitors and number of new enquiries. Then look at the demographics of these people. Do they match your target market and desired audience? If so you are in the right channel.  If not, test more channels!

And so to end on a simple point, are the channels you’re using actually making commercial sense. In other words, by using these channels to communicate messages to your audience, is it increasing business or helping you reach the target/goal you set. If not then you have either selected the wrong channel or the wrong target/desired audience and they don’t want or require your goods or service.

So next week will be the last blog installment of 2013 and as I suspect you will all be getting in the Christmas spirit I will keep it simple and touch on the benefits of multichannel marketing.

Maximise your Communications

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