An integrated and effective marketing plan consists of a variety of marketing tactics for communicating with your target audiences. There are hundreds of types of marketing communications available. Here’s a guide to help you determine what to use and why.
Types of Marketing Communications
Informational articles and opinion columns position you and your company as specialists and leaders in your marketplace. They help you develop a competitive edge and strengthen your image with prospects and customers. Once published in respected trade or business journals, they become vital tools that can be leveraged by your sales team.
White papers are authoritative reports that identify a challenge or problem in the marketplace and your company’s ability to resolve it. They are used to educate, inform and help readers identify specific and practical resolutions. Once completed, white papers can be posted on your website and available for visitors to download. Equally important, they can be used as the basis for creating presentations or as the foundation for a speech at an industry conference or workshop.
Case Studies and Success Stories
These are detailed testimonials that cite your company’s accomplishments. Unlike white papers and bylined articles, case studies and success stories can be very self-promotional. They describe detailed situations, including documented results, featuring your products and/or services solving specific challenges that earned your customer’s gratitude and continuing business.
A blog is an ongoing online diary of your business. Through your blog, you share exciting news about your company, trends in the industry and personal insights of interest to your customers, prospects and the marketplace. It is an excellent public-relations tool that positions your company as a thought leader and solutions provider.
Books can be the single-most effective tool to promote your business, generate media exposure and secure important speaking engagements. It is a physical product that reflects your knowledge and desire to offer solutions to common problems. As well, they can make a change and impact in the marketplace.
Newsletters can vary in length, format, frequency and distribution. Today, digital formats have virtually replaced print newsletters. They provide fresh website content and can be distributed via email and other social media channels. Content varies depending on the company and the intended audience. But, in all cases, the content needs to be crisp, sharp, concise and value-oriented. The use of graphics and other visuals helps make your newsletters must-reads for customers, prospects, employees and others with whom you want to communicate.
Technical or User Manuals
Technical or user manuals contain instructions for installing, operating, using, maintaining, supporting and training of personnel that use complex products, whether machinery or technology. It is essential for content to be accurate and readable in order for readers to be completely educated about the equipment, process or system.
Whether creating content to receive grants or to fulfill an RFP (request for a proposal), this type of writing requires attention to detail. The individual or organization receiving the proposal might have a specific format that is required as well as defined guidelines that need to be followed. It is important to include content that is written in plain English and not in tech-speak in order to ensure it is readable and engaging. Remember to use color, text boxes, bullet points and other appropriate graphics. Whenever possible, cite research to reinforce the key points in the proposal.
Like other forms of communications, press kits have evolved over time. Most companies and media favor digital press kits over the print variety. A good press kit includes:
- Biographies of key executives
- Corporate fact sheet(s) with accomplishments
- Recently published articles
- Current press releases
- Past speaking engagements
- Testimonials or references
- The expertise of the individual being promoted (topics he or she can address)
- Quotes that members of the media can use.
Press releases are time-sensitive announcements about news or milestones for your company. They are generally short—under 400 words—and follow a structured format. While the organization might vary slightly, most press releases include a release date and location, a brief description of the company, the news that is being announced, quotes from executives and contact information. Some companies use press releases to announce new hires, promotions, new products or services, major accomplishments and mergers and acquisitions. Whatever the purpose is, make sure the content is tight and provides something of value to the reader.
Which Marketing Communications Are You Using?
From annual reports to websites, there are hundreds of different types of marketing communications available to businesses and marketers. The best advice: do your homework; research best practices and partner with a communications expert to put your best foot forward with prospects and clients.