Managing Director, Grammatik Agency
There has never been a more fragmented and competitive communications landscape than what we have today. Not only are there more products and services than ever before but there are considerably more routes to market. On top of that we are also seeing increasingly sophisticated and nuanced relationships between products/services and the customer they are aiming to engage with. Trying to cut through all of this with effective communications can be quite a challenge. Not an impossible one, but a challenge nonetheless.
We are constantly bombarded by images, stories and advertising across multiple platforms each and every day. Research firm Yankelovich estimates that we are exposed to 10,000 ads each day. Inevitably there is a screening process attached to that statistic in that consumers stop engaging with and start ignoring brands and messages unless it’s something that they have a personal interest in.
How can brands and companies without massive marketing budgets still make a significant impact in their target market ? At Grammatik we are strong advocates for delivering ‘connected communications’ for marketing and PR. The starting point for this is a clear, well-defined positioning for your service, product or brand for the market in which you operate. Define what your Unique Selling Point (USP) is and then consider how you can focus on and communicate that as a key part of your marketing and PR strategy.
Understanding your company’s value proposition is another fundamental that acts as a bedrock to effective communications. Loosely defined as the meeting point of brand, experience and product, the value proposition and its subsequent articulation is often the special sauce that will really engage both existing customers and draw in new ones.
It’s vital that you can define and understand what is at the heart of your brand and what gives it a sense of purpose.
- Research your market.
- Acquire forensic knowledge of the space in which you operate.
- Speak to your customers - both existing and potential.
Then use this insight to inform your marketing and PR.
With so many routes to market it is vital to ensure that your messaging is connected across all the platforms you utilise for your activities. Create a consistent message - both visually and with your language and tone - across this fractured commercial landscape. Once you’ve established your messaging, it’s also important to make sure your marketing and PR are synced together. Often these communications disciplines can be run independently of each other and, as such, messaging can become confused and less coherent for the audience.
Working in silos doesn’t cut it anymore. It requires complex, interwoven, and often co-dependent messaging played across advertising, branding, packaging, PR, digital, customer service, and more. Symbiotic, interlocked, and constantly evolving, there is no solitary lens for communications. Instead, there is a brand kaleidoscope that acts as an ever-changing window into how a brand is perceived through the entirety of your activities. With this in mind having a single-minded and consistent approach to what you say and how you say it is increasingly important.
Effective PR and marketing help keep you front of mind with potential customers and within your market. It engenders awareness, trust and understanding of what you have to offer and - when done correctly - should help power growth and business success. PR, in particular, can be a relatively low-cost way of having a continuous heart-beat of messaging pulsing out from your company. PR can have a powerful ongoing impact by creating a form of ‘aggregated trust’ for your business.
Earning coverage in relevant publications and outlets with your stories can pay dividends when it comes to spreading your message. PR mobilises third-party support to secure share of voice (awareness), share of mind (engagement), market advantage (preference), & approval & trust (reputation). Perhaps it’s contributing to an industry story, sharing news of a new product launch, stories about the people within the business or an in-depth case study on a recent project.
All of these can make great content for your target audience in the right publication. Nurturing relationships with journalists can take time – often you can shortcut that by engaging an agency with ready-made specialist connections for you to gain exposure into the right publications.
For marketing and PR opportunities, you should always look at the broader industry to see where you can tell stories about your business and share examples on how you fit in and add value. Can you mobilise your existing customers or recent use cases in order to power your communications? This may be creating a case study with a recent client, an online event/webinar that you can host together or an introduction to other businesses that might value your services. Keep your head above the parapet and constantly look for the connections you can make.
The opportunities should be many and varied. Advocacy from a client or an existing customer is much more impactful than singing your own praises. Demonstrating the tangible value of what you do and how you have impacted on a real world situation is a much more effective way of selling than laying out functional explanations of what you do.
Show don’t tell.
With more and more pressure on marketing and PR budgets, it is important to ensure that it is accountable and there is an understanding on what you are trying to achieve - be that new customers, sales, a level of awareness or even just an amount of coverage. Your PR and marketing activity should sync to your overall business targets, and it is always important to understand what you are aiming to achieve with your activity.
Constantly review what’s working and what’s not. Have clear and open lines of communication between contributors and invested parties so everyone pulls in the right direction. If you’re using an agency, then a shared channel on Slack can remove the overload of multiple email threads and muddled communication.
Albert Einstein is often credited with the statement that “the definition of madness is repeating the same mistakes over and over again.” It doesn’t take Einstein to surmise that the same can be said of your marketing and PR activity. If something is not working, if you can’t figure out how to get positive results, then get rid of it from your activities.
Finally, don’t be afraid to innovate and try new things. It can pay dividends to be agile and
responsive when new marketing and PR opportunities present themselves. Being tuned into your competitive landscape, being active with social listening and being connected with the publications who are writing about your industry will help with this immensely. Getting a fresh perspective from a third party can also help shake out any fatigue, complacency or lack of effectiveness with your current communications and get things on track.