5 Marketing Communication Tools – Updated

Dick first published this blog in June 2010. It is our most popular blog, with over 29,000 views since June of 2010, and is 2 times more popular than our second most viewed blog.

Four plus years in, it is appropriate to review this blog and note what, if anything, should be changed or updated. Comments/updates are in italics after each paragraph.


A marketing person has many tools at his disposal for generating awareness and supporting the selling effort.  While there are numerous marketing communication tools, there are also numerous mixes for these tools. The following is a list of some of the more common tools along with examples of their use and some considerations. One important note is to remember that marketing communication tools do improve understanding your product or service, reinforcing your messages, supporting the sales cycle and generating awareness.

Implicit in the introduction above is that there is a sales person who will ask for the order. Today that function may be executed by a sales person or a call to action on your web site.


1- Advertising: Advertising’s main feature is increasing awareness.   An example of an ad might be an enterprise promoting that it is number one in providing top quality lawn mowers. Ads also help promote your product or service and branding for your enterprise.   Major advice regarding advertising is to very clear about its objective, who is the audience and how will you measure its effectiveness.

One major mistake that many companies make is that after doing an excellent job of determining the objectives, defining audience and establishing metrics, is that they do not fund the advertising plan so that it will be effective.  All too many times after an ad campaign starts they stop funding it because they do not see any positive results.  Typically ad programs have a “threshold” or how many times it must run to be effective, but many companies stop part of the way through and move on to something else.  Rule number one; do not run any ads unless you are funded for the full program!

Even more valid today. If you choose to reinforce your brand through advertising, make sure that you completely fund the campaign, otherwise you waste the time, effort and monies spent. There is also a shift in where ads are placed,  i.e., from print to Facebook, Linkedin  , etc.


2- Direct mail or email campaigns: The primary purpose of mailings, direct or email, is to generate leads, via some form of an offer or call to action. An example of a direct mail might be a message that addresses the need for additional revenues and implementing a marketing program that will result in additional revenues.  Mailings can also be used for promoting any major communication messages.  Like advertising, first make sure you know your objective and have a targeted audience and how you will measure the campaign.  Word of caution, mailings do not usually replace the sales force (I am addressing business to business markets). But as stated, they provide leads or names of potential customers.  The biggest mistakes most companies make are; the offer does not line up with the targeted audience, the offer is not compelling. and lack a call to action. If you do not address these issues you are only “clicks” away from losing your potential customer.

The consensus is that mailings, both direct and email, work in generating leads and helping to close sales. The major difference from four years ago is working to make sure your mailing, either direct or email, stands out from all the other mailings that your target market is receiving and not end up in the trash can.

A second concern is to make sure that your mailing list, both email and direct, is up-to-date and valid. It is important to comply with the CAN-SPAM requirements and to avoid being perceived as a spammer. Developing and managing your mailing list is just as important as the content of the mailing itself.


3- Social Media:  Social Media’s main purpose is providing “information” about your products, services, and enterprise, and other people’s opinions about all three. As Bob has discussed in a number of articles, social media is not only growing at a rapid rate, it is becoming a resource for consumer/buyers to research the potential product or service way before your enterprise is even aware of the buyer’s interest.  Key advice here is to at least monitor these activities, respond to viewer’s comments, especially if there is bad publicity.  Common mistakes are not engaging in one form of these activities, becoming defensive about social remarks and not gathering this information for future products or services.

Good advice four years ago, but the use and application of social media communication tools has exploded since this was published. Today's buyers aggressively seek out information about your products, services, terms and conditions before engaging with a sales person. Some reports about the B2B market show that “94 percent of B2B buyers report that they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product.”1

As a result, your web site becomes the most visible “touch point” of your company. It must be attractive, easily navigable (for all types of electronic devices) and optimized for organic search. In addition, it must be tied to corporate Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social media pages that not only carry information, but also direct traffic to the web site. In 2014, for most companies, social media should be the emphasis of their marketing communication tool set.


4-  Trade shows, seminars, webinars: These tools can address many issues, but usually their primary objectives are leads and a product/service introduction or announcement. An example might be “Visit our booth #1234 and see the industry’s fastest switch”.   Two of the biggest mistakes are not getting the leads out to the field in a timely manner and having a very strong message that is easy to understand.

Trade shows, seminars and webinars still play a significant role in reaching customers and developing leads. The first two allow for face-to-face interaction between buyer and seller, an invaluable experience especially for higher priced goods. Secondly, the benefits of your product/service can be demonstrated, under your control, at trade shows and seminars ensuring that the best possible message is conveyed to the audience. Lastly, given underlying economic changes, trade show and seminar attendees tend to be heavy influencers and/or decision makers whose opinion can be influenced by your presentation. Webinars should be part of your social media outreach program.


5- Newsletters, Catalogs: Primary use is for convening information, be it some form of an update or similar to the trade show, an announcement of a new product or service.   Key for success for these is attention getting and true value proposition.

Electronic newsletters can be part of your email campaigns. Catalogs are loosing value due to both the expense and the buyer's practice of seeking out required information from you web site.


Understand there are numerous marketing tools and even more  when you make different mixes, and I have just highlighted just 5.  Regardless of the tools you use or what combinations, remember that you must have an objective, a well defined audience, an agreed method of measurement and most importantly, adequate funds for each program/campaign.  The key to a successful use of these marketing tools is to coordinate these activities with the sales organization (give them plenty of notice ahead of time) and other distribution channels.


Valid points in June of 2010 and in December of 2014.


For more information regarding this post and its implication to your business contact us for a 2 hour no obligation phone call. (We will ask for background information prior to the meeting.)



RHL 06/15/10

RHL 12/9//14


12014 STATE OF B2B PROCUREMENT STUDY, Acquity Group www.acquitygroup.com

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