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Marcom Strategy – The Basics (part 1)

August 4, 2009

The wrong strategy

While brand marketers and CMOs say they’re keenly focused on efficiency and ROMI (return on marketing investment), their marcom strategies frequently miss the mark in a big way.

In this series I’ll share my thoughts on the many elements that go into the creation of a marketing communication strategy, and hopefully highlight factors that make the difference between missing the mark and hitting the bull’s-eye.

 I’m limiting these posts to the topic of marketing communications strategy instead of the broader topic of marketing strategy. The intent is to focus on the basic elements that go into planning communications with consumers, or more broadly, engaging consumers with marketing activities designed to change what they, think, feel, and act towards brands.

 Let’s start with some basic definitions.

Alex What is marketing communications?

Marketing communications has traditionally been thought of as commercial messages being directed at consumers, through mediums such as television, radio, print, signage, and mail. This one-to-many concept of message distribution positioned consumers as a passive audience – viewers, readers, and listeners.

 Over the past decade or so, technology and changes in consumer behavior have expanded the definition of marketing communications. The Internet, mobile, game consoles, and experiential marketing activities have increasingly become important marketing communication platforms.

As technology gave consumers more control over the commercial messages directed at them, it also opened the door to true interactivity. Consumers are now potential participants in marketing activities, not just audiences.

As a result of these changes, marketing communications has a much broader meaning.

3way-chess What is a strategy?

Let’s begin with the term “strategist”. It has a highfalutin ring to it, but it really shouldn’t.

 Strategists are simply planners, and a marcom strategy is nothing more than a plan to achieve a defined set of marketing goals by communicating with, or ideally, creating interactive experiences for consumers.

 The word “strategy” implies a degree of cleverness and savvy that “plan” doesn’t. A marcom strategy doesn’t require super-human intelligence, but does require attention, experience, and a good dose of creativity.

 Useful experience comes from analyzing results from hundreds of marcom activities, not simply experience in dreaming-up or producing ads marketing people think are cool.

 Most of all, a good strategist needs common sense and the ability to put themselves into the shoes of the consumer they’re trying to reach. Those who can accurately anticipate how consumers will react to a specific marcom activity usually make good strategists. And that’s a tall order in an industry of koolaid drinkers.

 In my next post I’ll discuss the essential outcomes of a marcom strategy.

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