In addition, each industry has its own standard benchmarks and best practices for marketing communications planning. For example, knowing what colleagues in your industry invest in programs as a percentage of gross profits or cost of sales serves as a guideline for your own planning. Ideally, one would have all the necessary information such as previous campaign results, conversion rates, industry benchmarks, sales projections and anticipated campaign costs in order to determine an optimal mix of programs & resources required to meet expectations and revenue goals.
Once an optimal mix of programs and campaigns has been developed, excellence in plan execution, as well as a process for capturing and measuring the results of marketing communications investments becomes equally important in justifying one's contributions to an organization.
Measure & Quantify Results
Today's customers are more complex, demanding and savvy than at any other time in our history, suggesting that fully integrated marketing communications programs are necessary in order to reach these customers at several touch points. The marketing communications mix may include: publications, direct mail, online, newsletters, trade events, analyst reports, briefing/seminars/webinars, advertising, promotions, channel programs, etc...depending on the type of offering and industry in which one is employed. In our recent past, tracking the success rate of various campaigns was a time-consuming effort within a resource-constrained environment.
However, many vendors now provide tools to aid marketing professionals in tracking and measuring results from marketing & communications programs. These include software applications such as: Marketing Automation, Customer Relationship Management (eCRM / CRM), Sales Force Automation (SFA), or Business Intelligence (BI).
As each organization is unique, selecting a "best fit" tool requires a broad understanding of: all the choices available, internal IT integration / support considerations, business processes required to track or analyze results and what measurement criteria are optimal for one's industry. For example, marketing professionals should:
* Decide what metrics need to be measured, for example: cost per lead, cost per channel, campaigns, sales cycles, conversion rates per campaign, etc...
* Determine how to measure these metrics via initiatives such as surveys, call center data, direct response, clipping services, click-through rates, etc.
* Develop a methodology or process to measure & analyze data for trend and/or actionable items
* Create a communications plan for disseminating relevant data to key internal stakeholders and/or decision makers.
* Build consensus and construct a revised marketing plan that leverages future opportunities based upon results measured.
Branding Your Message
Branding is a huge part of any organization's success. Each company has a story to tell. That story is the most powerful branding tool available and is a message clients and potential clients repeatedly need to hear. Perhaps in no other context is branding more of an emotional response. The branding process involves reinforcing or changing how client or prospects feel about your company and its products or services. This can best be accomplished through consistent and appropriate messaging through multiple communication channels.
A company's message is its promise to its clients and differentiator in the marketplace. The company identifies itself with a set of standards and services it intends to deliver and promises each client and prospect that it will work to achieve those goals. Branding is impacted by every contact with your company, from its marketing and sales to the support personnel and invoices. It is cumulative and linked to intangible factors and emotions, such as loyalty and honesty, further complicating branding success. Your company's message will hold different meanings for different clients. Its branding that gathers each of those disparate factors and unifies them. An effective branding campaign can often mean the difference between success or failure.