In this article, I am going to talk about what (really) goes into understanding the fundamentals of marketing and communication that works. And why should you care about content strategy and utilizing various channels to target the segment of your clients? This article will be useful for students, freelancers, start-ups, bloggers, professionals, mentors, and entrepreneurs.
Understanding Perception and Illusion in Marketing
The basics of marketing are to run through your ‘Why’. Summarize your answers to be shared as to why you are doing and what makes you different and how you are doing is from where we start to understand the fundamentals of marketing.
It is important not only to learn what is marketing but also to know ways and means to implement these fundamentals you learn. It all starts from our mind and let me share the basic concept that the ‘mind plays a crucial role in marketing’. Isn’t it when we start working with any new idea or start searching for any new product, service, etc. our mind and thoughts are surrounded by questions like What to do? Where to start? Or Where to go? How to do it? And Who will do? The list is endless until we recognize that being aware or generating awareness is the reality and the rest all is the illusion. Marketing is the management of these perceptions.
The law of marketing starts from the law of mind as it modifies the law of leadership in the market. How? Let me make it simple being first in the mind of your audience or customers is the core of marketing. It is a conflict of perception and not a product, so the mind takes precedence over the marketplace.
Once you are aware of the relationship between mind, perception, and illusion you are ready to take embark on your new journey. I will help you to take that leap.
Know your audience to plan your Marketing Strategy
This process is known as Market Segmentation and we will discuss what is it and why is it required to plan strategy and required communication.
Marketing is a constantly changing field and it is significant to modify the way you plan to reach your audience/customers. You would not like to share your story with people who are not interested or who do not require it. So, let’s see why t is crucial to learn the segmentation of your target market for effective reach and results.
It is a practice adopted by brands to divide their target market into smaller and more manageable groups of people based on a common view or interest they share. That’s how the entire optimization of marketing, communication, and sales efforts.
The market segment has similar characteristics and is mainly divided into broader categories such as Geographic, Demographic, Psychographic, and Behavioural as explained below:
Geographic – This segment is based on the geographic areas as interests and preferences differ from state to state and country to country. Have you noticed how well this is taken care of by the food chain McDonald’s? The best example is from their decision for India, they have not opted to introduce Big Mac (a beef burger) but taking care of the sentiments of Indian customers they introduced Maharaja Mac (a variation of Big Mac without beef or pork).
Demographic – This segment looks to a market through variables such as age, gender, education, occupation, income, family size, ethnicity, etc. To explain how it is used by brands, an example of Nike’s strategy is well understood. We know that the apparel and sports market is very broad, so Nike kept this segment in consideration to target its consumers between the ages of 15-40. Though it targets both men and women athletes equally but has increased focus on tweens and teens to build long-term relationships from a young age.
Psychographic – This segment is based on values, opinions, interests, attitudes, conscious and subconscious motivators, lifestyles, social status, personality, peers, etc. We all are aware of a famous phone brand, Apple, and the high cost of their phones but still, their phones are purchased by people whose monthly salary is less than the cost of the phone. Here brands consider psychological explanations for these customers like a good sense of judgment, wanting to be associated with high social status, or being in the same social group.
Behavioral – This segment is based on the variables like purchasing behavior, lifecycle stage, satisfaction, benefits, level of engagement, and more. Have you ever noticed the FMCG personal care products being focused in the category of shampoos and kinds of toothpaste-like for split ends, dandruff, shine, growth, etc., and a kind of competitive marketing campaigns between Colgate and Sensodyne to target people with sensitive teeth and other toothpaste for whitening of teeth?
Before we move to the next sub-topic, let’s discuss why the need to understand the economy comes.
You may have a segmented customer base as per your strategy, but wait what if that segment is affected by the economic cycle? Before you apply your strategy to use, do a check on the buying power or a genuine need for your product.
Don’t Ignore Economic Factors That Affect Purchasing Power
In an ideal situation, it is great to think that the success of your marketing plan depended completely on your own creativity, effort, and knowledge but the bitter truth is, other factors get in the way. As a part of your strategy, you must devote your time to judging other factors influencing the purchasing decisions of your customer.
Purchasing patterns of your customers depend upon their confidence level, which comes from the confidence they get from their own financial situation and the economy of their country.
The proverb of the three blind men examining an elephant acts as a representation of the global economy. Each man has a different impression of touching a separate part of the elephant-like leg, trunk, and tail to form their opinion of what is an elephant. The same is true to understand the economy. Regions, and countries, and economically different from each other, and thus have varying levels of living standards.
Factors Influencing Consumer Spending
Purchasing power is reduced by inflation rates and changes in disposable income impact spending. Recession is the factor to impact everyone’s bottom line. Interest rates affect credit purchases, ecological forces influence consumer attitudes. Technology shapes buying behavior such as social media and other trends.
What do we take care of?
- Never underestimate your customers, even if they are young ones.
- How to reach them?
- What are they interested in?
- Understand your competition.
- Create strong content.
- Connect with your market.
- Use visuals to grab attention.
- Share genuine information.
- Earn trust with good-quality content.
Adapt the content as per the segment of your audience and do not underestimate them. Know where your customers are paying attention and what are they looking for. You might feel you have great content but it does require modifications as per the preferences of the market. Visuals appeal to customers at an emotional level and connect better to the message. As per the experience of the brands, visuals are key to your content creation. Genuine information and good content build attention and grab the trust of the customer in the brand. This trust is the driving force for the customer to make a decision to purchase.
It is a journey from brand impression to brand engagement. Other forms of marketing only spread awareness about the brand but sincere words always leave an impact on the mind of the customer, thus starting a relationship built on trust.
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach divided into two main parts:
- Creating interesting, engaging, knowledgeable, valuable, relevant, and consistent content to retain a clearly defined audience.
- Marketing or distribution of the content in a way that you connect with your audience and ultimately drives profitable customer action.
Once you get convinced that marketing is impossible without great content, it should be part of your process. Content strategy is important to create content with a purpose as a consistent effort to find a unique selling proposition.
Content Marketing Process
- Research and Insight – Use surveys, research, and analysis from outside sources, your own insights to form your content strategy.
- Goal Setting – What do you want to achieve with your content?
- Content Strategy – Decide your approach to achieve your objectives.
- Content Creation – Write relevant to target your audience.
- Content Curation – Finding high-quality, relevant content produced by others and sharing it online to supplement your own content production.
- Distribution – Sharing and publishing the content.
- Engagement – Review the action taken by the audience.
Utilize the Right Marketing Channels
At this stage, you must know why it’s important to use the right platform for your message. It is a combination of traditional marketing and digital marketing channels for many brands. Both types of channels have their own benefits but you must focus on the drawbacks also as marketing is also about cost, return, exposure, and impact it creates in order to convert all the efforts till now to leads and sales.
Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing
Right marketing techniques are required to reach out to your target audience and convert them into leads or customers.
Traditional marketing is a conventional mode of marketing with various offline methods. It has evolved over the past years, but the fundamental facets remain the same and depend on the infamous four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. It covers categories like:
- Print (Magazines, Newspapers, etc.)
- Broadcast (TV, Radio, etc.)
- Direct Mail (Catalogues, Postcards, etc.)
- Telephone (Telemarketing, SMS marketing, etc.)
- Outdoor (Billboards, Fliers, etc.)
Drawbacks of Traditional Marketing:
- Little Interaction
- One-way communication.
- No Control Over Timing
- Content cannot be updated once it is shared.
- Higher Cost
- Limited Customization Options
- Inability to share price and details
- Poor campaign measurement
- Results cannot be measured easily and efficiently
Digital marketing looks different than traditional marketing in many ways but it is more about the 4th P: ‘Promotion’. Digital marketing is critical for business these days as the internet is the most used tool for promotional or awareness generation activities, basically, it is a convenient and fast way to reach your audience.
Why Choose Digital Marketing
Big brands with huge offline audiences may not be able to ignore this expensive way. Whereas small businesses trying to start or make a mark with a limited budget are more dependent on digital marketing due to so many reasons shared below. Read more about Digital Marketing Strategy.
Advantages of Digital Marketing
- Feedback is quick and useful.
- Measurement of the effectiveness of your communication strategy in terms of conversion can be done.
- Information is easily accessible in real time.
- Option to adjust your marketing strategy.
- Option for customization makes it less risky
- A higher level of customer engagement
- Instant and live engagement with customers.
- Access to information on visits and conversions.
- Large audience base.
- Less expensive and more effective
- All efforts are interlinked in digital marketing.
Importance of Communication Skills
Before you consider the correct communication channels, you need to know your audience which covers your primary and secondary audience. The primary audience is directly involved in making decisions whereas secondary audiences can influence and inform your primary audience. A teenager might be a primary audience for a brand for youngsters but maybe an elder person who saw another teenager using that brand can be a secondary audience influencing her son/daughter.
The communicator must have all the qualities and tools to tell a story to the audience/customers (B2B or B2C) in a clear and concise manner to prompt an emotional response.
What do you require?
Creative Thinking to make your messages stand. This might not be easy work but to begin you should start examining your brand and products from a holistic outlook.
- Keep on investing your time to find innovative ways to relate to your audience.
- Write short and simple sentences as the attention span of today’s reader demands sentences of 35 words or fewer.
- Create neat and reader-friendly sentences.
- Stick to active voice.
- Show your work, don’t tell.
- Ensure that information is understandable for the educated non-specialist.
- Avoid insider language.
- Explain complex or niche terms.
- Provide hyperlinks to other articles so that readers can get more background information on a particular topic.
- Mix up your word choice and do not stick to your favorite ones.
- Try to use bulleted or numerical lists instead of making them heavy paragraphs.
- Include ‘white space.’ (empty space that surrounds paragraphs and images) as it makes the content legible.
- Add multimedia (so many times a picture or infographic is worth a thousand words).
- Leave them wanting more.
- Keep these calls-to-action crisp such as Download, Share, Join, Sign Up, Learn More, or Watch.
Most important is to consider the fact that the balance of content and images should be in a way that the reader enjoys reading and graphics complement the content. Also to take into account that the Search engines index text and visuals.
Direct Response Marketing
It generates immediate ROI (return on investment) as the direct response is about immediate reaction and revenues from instant sales. It is not a general promotion but to the people who are interested in the product. You can come to know from which ad or media your customer responded to.
It is indeed a type of sales technique designed to start an on-the-spot response and encourage a prospective customer to take action. It is done by creating an appealing offer and it generates leads through various channels thus converting strangers into paying customers.
Marketers mostly use expiration dates or deadlines to create a sense of urgency and hurry their audience to act impulsively. A few common examples are such as: Use this coupon, Download a free trial, Buy now, and receive a discount.
Integrated Digital Marketing
It seems to be a self-explanatory word, integration of various marketing strategies to form an interrelated online approach to create maximum communication impact.
It is a blend of all facets of marketing communication such as advertising, email marketing, sales promotion, SEO, public relations, direct marketing, and social media. It is designed to ensure that all the communications strategies are uniform through their mix of methods, channels, media, and activities. It is aimed to work together as an integrated (combined) force.
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