SPECIAL SERIES-Post #1: Know the elements

This is the first of a “back to basics” review series  of the marketing process.  For series introduction, see 4/5 post

Just as the natural elements (earth, wind, etc) are a given, so should be the elements of marketing.   While this may be basic for most, we still get distressed when we see corporate titles such as:  Director of Marketing & Advertising.  Well, if advertising isn’t marketing, we’re in trouble!

Anyway, this proves that the elements of marketing continue to confuse. While there are plenty of tutorials out there on how to write a marketing plan, few explain what specific things should be in one.  

So, here we are going to define these further.  Importantly, not any one of these elements work magic alone, but a combination of the right elements, or tactics,  provide the integration that can spell success.

Let’s start by remembering the easy, classic components of marketing:  the four Ps:  product, price, place and promotion.  The elements of your marketing plan should address all these using these activities:

POSITIONING:  This is the (brief) statement that tells what you are about elegantly and eloquently.  It is what you refer to to ensure that whatever your elements they are  in keeping with the company’s unique market position expressed.  Note that this is not a theme or tag line (used in ads, etc) and usually not a public statement. 

PUBLIC RELATIONS:  This comprises publicity, public affairs and special events.  Publicity is media coverage you get where you don’t pay for the space (including blogs and web sites).  It’s most rewarding when you measure the actual inches or seconds of publicity achieved and figure out how much it would cost to buy that space or time… Public affairs is a bit more arbitrary in that it involves outreach to consumers focused on image-building or issues-management.  A corporate nutritionist, for example, may conduct public affairs programs.  Special events include trade shows, seminars, fairs:  anything that puts you in direct contact with customers.  Social media also falls under the publicity banner.

ADVERTISING:  It’s also a form of public relations, but you pay for it, typically by purchasing space or time mostly in print and broacast media.  In social media, paid Twitter may not be far away…The key equation to remember in advertising is:  REACH + FREQUENCY = IMPACT.  We’ve said once and say it again:  unless you are doing it strictly for public relations, don’t run one ad once.  A proper ad campaign is a mininum of three related ads, ideally run consecutively in the same medium.

SALES PROMOTION:  These are activities that support the sales team and work  to ensure customer purchases.  On the consumer side, it can involve price strategies (i.e. BOGOs), sweepstakes/contests, give-aways, in-store specials, etc, as well as point-of-purchase (POP) materials and merchandising, among other creative tactics.  Note that promotions is also a key element in trade marketing (B2B), and can involve off-invoice, category management, or other value-added offering to ensure retail buyers’  loyalty.

COLLATERAL:  Yes, it’s an old-fashioned term from the halcyon ad agency days but it still works and includes brochures, magazines, logo premiums, and other informational sales materials for potential customers.  These days we are seeing folks go electronic with much of this, including huge brochures on tiny Flash drives.  We are all for saving paper, but sometimes there is nothing quite like the look and feel of a quality  printed piece to position a company properly.

You can add more elements to your marketing plan if you wish, but if you don’t at least have these, don’t call it a plan…

NEXT WEEK:  Guest post from industry expert!

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