Midsized Company Marketing Communications Budget Planning

This is the time of year when most companies, brands and nonprofits are involved with developing their marketing communications plans and budgets for next year. This is not an easy task in any year but, whether you’re already deeply involved in the process, or just starting, the task is even more challenging this year given the continuing global and economic uncertainties.

More than ever, increased accountability and scrutiny of the decision-making process is a necessity for improving marketing communications ROI. Customers, whether existing or new, have a multitude of choices for evaluating and selecting a product or service, so it’s extremely important to be on the same page with them.

What follows recommends a three-pronged approach to help you develop a budget and plan to profitably impact your marketplace.

Understand Your Customer Target Audience
Like most managers, you probably believe you fully understand the wants and needs of your customers, as well as their knowledge of your brand. But with so many new methods available to customers for comparing your brand to competition, are you really sure?

Is it smart to plan and commit your precious marketing communication dollars to what you think you know about customers? Maybe it would be a lot smarter to learn directly from them what they want, and how you stack up to their needs.

Ultimately, that means market research. Whether you’re a B2B, B2C or a nonprofit marketer, now is the time to learn from your customer.

  • What attributes or qualities are important to them in selecting a brand? Beyond price, what other factors influence their purchase decision?
  • How do they rate your brand versus competition? What are your strongest and weakest attributes, and what do you need to improve?

Wouldn’t you feel more secure in your decision making if you had concrete answers to these questions before you develop, much less commit to, budgets? And don’t forget about making sure you understand your employees or distributors. They’re your first line of brand advocacy. Their beliefs may not line up with your customers’ beliefs, and could lead to lost opportunities or lost sales. Look before you leap.

A Marketing Communications Audit Can Sharpen Your Message
Once you completely understand your customer, the next step is to focus on your message. The single greatest source of leverage you have is the quality of messaging, whether it’s a television commercial, a post on a Facebook page, your website, articles, blogs or whitepapers. When messaging fails to deliver, it’s usually not the platforms that fail, but rather the lack of integrated focused brand communications.

A marketing communications audit, conducted by outside consultants who don’t have a vested interest or an ax to grind, can – like a financial audit – be an enormous benefit. It will tell you whether all of the creative elements you employ – subject matter, graphics, copy, and tone and manner – are working together with one clear and meaningful message to your customers, as well as your employees.

An additional benefit of a marketing communications audit is its ability to help determine your communications mix and resulting budgets. For instance, based on customer needs, perhaps more should be spent in content marketing, with articles and blogs, and less in paid advertising, consumer promotions or coupons. Just make sure all of your messaging is saying the same thing to meet those customer needs. It’s a matter of reinforcing the image you want to convey and trust in your brand.

Consider Marketing Communications Consultants
No one is doubting that smart, dedicated people have been involved in developing your marketing communications budget and plan. But, if you’re like most midsized companies, your people are probably stretched to the limit.

Consider partnering with an established, senior level consultant to help your team develop, refine and, if appropriate, implement your programs. Above all, make sure a consultant has extensive experience across disciplines, industries and brands, and isn’t trapped by “this is the way we’ve always done it” thinking. An apolitical team, with a willingness to “tell it like it is”, with fresh eyes can be a major asset to your profitable growth.

In today’s unsettled environment, an upfront focus on developing budgets and plans can go a long way to improving marketing communications ROI.

What Should Internet Marketing Services Include?

Along with your decision to put up a business, you must have thought of what marketing strategy you are going to use in order to make it sell and grow over time. Although the traditional way of marketing a business has been proven to be very effective in the recent years, businessmen these days have decided to move on to a more innovative way of marketing their business which is through the use of the internet. They believe that this newer business marketing strategy is able to give them a lot better results than the traditional ones which make use of the television, radio and newspapers. Most businessmen create their own website to effectively market their business over the internet. However, internet marketing is not solely about having a website. There are a lot of things that effective internet marketing services should include.

Creating a website is just the first and most basic things that internet marketing services should have. Next to that is their SEO strategy or what is known as the search engine optimization strategy. With this strategy, reliable internet marketing services include your business website on the search engine results in order for it to get found by your potential customers who research about your products and services using the large search engine sites that the internet have today like Yahoo, Bing and Google.

Internet marketing services should also include Social Media Marketing. This marketing strategy takes advantage of the free social media networking sites which are being used by a lot of people these days to communicate with their friends from all over the world. By using this as a marketing strategy you allow your business to be noticed by millions of people from all over the world in just a few click or a few seconds.

Another very effective marketing strategy that internet marketing services should include is email marketing which make use of your potential customers’ email to directly get in touch with them. This is done by sending them informative educational and convincing reading materials usually when they subscribe to your website. Our potential customers inevitably have quite a lot of questions about our products and services before they do business with us. They feel important when they see that we address every important question they have. Email marketing would allow us to address their questions and eventually move them into doing business with us.

Online video content marketing is also a very important marketing strategy that internet marketing services should include. Perhaps you have already heard and seen YouTube and how often it gets visited by a lot of online users. This is because whether we admit it or not, there are still a lot of people who are never satisfied with just written contents. They would like to see things before they decide to purchase. It would definitely be a good idea to show your potential customers your products and services through videos from free online video streaming sites to effectively market them.

Web Marketing Channels Work As A Team, Not Individuals

If you read the excellent Hubspot blog, you readily come across the statement that “email marketing converts higher than any other form of web marketing.” One of the reasons I believe this to be true, is down to the fact that an email is very much like a one on one conversation, we’re focused on it’s contents. This is in contrast to social media, or generic web pages where there are all kinds of distractions to take us away from a specific message. Now this doesn’t mean that we should focus all of our assets and attention on email marketing exclusively. I never really see web channels as been better or worse than each other, instead I find it’s more a case of looking at where they fit in to the overall goal of discovering and converting new people to your tribe. How do your web marketing channels play as part of your web marketing team?

If we see an email in our inbox from someone whom we trust, or want to connect with, we read it with a more focused intention then we would do a quick, fun post on someone’s Facebook page. Email and social media are very different kinds of web marketing channel. As briefly discussed above, email is more like a one-on-one conversation. Provided we feel a certain trust with the person who originally sent the email, we are happy to give its contents the same kind of attention as if they were speaking to us via the phone.

On the other hand, social media pages are bit like being in a bar – often a very crowded bar! We don’t have a lot of airspace to say too much or to be too sophisticated. If it wasn’t enough to have many others messaging around us, social media also often limits the number of characters we can actually type. To entice people to listen to us on social media, we have to deliver a message quickly and with lots of strong energy. We can use images, or video, to capture people’s eyes, but whether we use words or more, our overall aim should be to entice them enough to click through and join us somewhere less crowded, i.e. our own web pages.

Even when people are on our own web pages we still can’t quite get all deep and meaningful with them like we can on email! Right now, we need to impress them. We have their attention, now we need to fuel it further. What better way than giving them something really useful, interesting and above all, free? In other words, we are treating them – because we want to get to know them better. This also sounds very much like we’re bringing in another web marketing channel commonly known as content marketing too.If our treat is enticing enough, we should get our visitors email address and permission to contact them again soon. It’s from here that we can really start to bring email marketing to the fore, we’ve moved from the noisy web marketing channel of social media, through the enticing temptations of content marketing to the more personal and thoughtful channel of email.

How long should we leave before we contact our new connections? We probably need to give them enough time to digests whatever it is we gave them as our treat. Things move quickly in the online world, the noisy bars of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all have lots of beautiful and enticing messages to click on instead. So, a good guide is to leave your people alone for a couple of days and then email. We’re within our email channel now and we can be more thoughtful and insightful, provided we don’t become boring. Ask how they got on with our treat? Do they have any questions? Then cover off a common question that we are often asked that we want to share the answer to with them. Include information on who we are and what we believe in, what makes us different to everybody else they can find out there within our world. Always invite responses, questions and feedback – after all, you’re getting to know your new connection a lot better now. Managed well, by combining the different merits of social media and email marketing together within one overall web marketing strategy, you’ll start to turn complete strangers into leads who open your emails and seek to do business with you, when their need arises.

For the purpose of this article, we have focused on social media and email marketing as two web marketing channels working together, albeit with a little help from content marketing too. Instead of being viewed as individual lead generation channels, they actually all need each other in order to entice and develop new relationships online. On its own, email marketing will struggle to entice the connections that social media can bring, whilst social media will struggle to convey the deeper conversations that email can. Both of them would achieve little without the content “treat” on offer. Your web marketing channels are a team, each with their own strengths and weaknesses that in turn, help them play an important part within your overall web marketing goals. It’s really less about what working and what isn’t, and more about how everything is working together and how that can be maximised that leads to successful web marketing overall.

How You Can Find The Best Affiliate Programs To Make You The Most Money Every Time!

As affiliate marketers finding affiliate programs can be difficult. By following a few rules, you can find a good affiliate program that pays well, and fits your business. Before you decide on your affiliate program, I have a few things you need to look at before you commit to any one program.

The first thing you want to make sure of is that the affiliate program is reliable in paying you every time and on time. You can do research for yourself by searching the search engines for any information on the affiliate program, or by searching for affiliate program or affiliate marketing forums.

Speaking of money and getting paid, another thing you want to look at is the affiliate programs payment structure and their commission rate. You want to start by looking for high commissions items. However, some of the best affiliate programs are high ticket items that you get a small commission from. You just have to be the judge, and decide how much you want to get paid.

Another thing you want to look for before you decide on any one affiliate program is what kind of statistics that they offer you. Statistics show you how many clicks your link is getting, from where, and how many sales you have made. This is important because you want to know if you are making any money from promoting the affiliate program or not. These statistics can show you if you need to be promoting the product differently, or finding a new product all together.

Probably the most important thing you need to look for when deciding on an affiliate program is the actual product and the site that is selling the product. You need to study both. Make sure the product is a good product. You can do this by either buying it and using it, or searching for reviews of the product. Visit the site where the product is being sold, and make sure that the site does a good job of selling visitors on buying the product. If you feel like you wouldn’t buy the product, chances are that anyone you send wont buy it either.

When choosing your affiliate program, and your new to affiliate marketing, finding ones that offer some kind of affiliate marketing training could be good for you. A site that gives tips and information on making money through affiliate marketing would be perfect for a newbie because they could learn as they promoted the product. Some of these sites will even tell you what their top affiliates are doing to make sales. You can learn from successful affiliate marketers, and do the things they do so that you also could become successful with affiliate marketing. Now this shouldn’t be required, but it is a great benefit that some affiliate programs do offer.

Now I haven’t covered everything you should look at before joining an affiliate program, but these are some of the very important factors you should be looking for. You can’t make money with a bad affiliate program. One that doesn’t pay well, or doesn’t sell the visitors that you send them is something you want to stay away from. There are many affiliate programs online, you just have to do the research to find them, and find the ones that best suit your site or newsletter. Once you can find good affiliate programs, you’ll be on your way as a successful affiliate marketer.