- The results you’re trying to achieve (your aims)
- The budget you have available (the cost)
- The markets you want to reach (your target audience)
These will vary from business to business – but they should all be taken into consideration when deciding the type of marketing collateral you need to produce.
In a recession, marketing is often one of the first areas to face cuts. This can be a false economy. Once the economic climate begins to improve once more, companies that have kept marketing throughout tend to be in a better position to respond to new opportunities. They’ve maintained reasonable levels of customer awareness; they have a steady marketing strategy in place; and they don’t have to waste time recruiting or re-building their communications links.
Having said that, a recession is a good time for taking a new look at your marketing strategy. Why not see if there are less expensive alternatives or more cost-effective approaches that you could use? Images are important, but don’t overlook different types of written material. Words have power: and the right words can help you to attract and retain customers without necessarily incurring huge expense.
The range of written marketing materials open to you include:
Shorter term methods
- Press releases: a fairly low cost way of gaining high levels of coverage. Ideal for announcing new products, services, awards etc. However, they may get heavily edited.
- Adverts: Much higher cost than press releases, but you have more control over the final content. Shouldn’t be too ‘wordy’ – and the words you use must have real impact.
- Case studies: Ideal for sharing examples of your capabilities with customers in the same sector. Produce them as single, high quality A4 sheets, printed either one side or both – preferably in colour (if possible) and with one or two photos to add interest. Can also be sent as articles to relevant trade magazines.
- Editorial: Research shows that this can be seven times more effective than advertising for a much lower cost.
- Direct Mail: Useful if you want material that is targeted at a specific audience but can be fairly expensive if you’re on a restricted budget.
- Articles: Placed in trade magazines, these help to establish your (and your company’s) credentials. Must be well written otherwise they will reflect badly on your company.
Longer term methods
- Websites: The potential of reaching a worldwide audience for a relatively low cost. However, you need to make an impact on your Home Page or people may not be bothered to read further.
- Brochures: A useful overview of your solutions. Should be high quality and therefore expensive. Make sure they don’t go out of date too quickly.
- Newsletters (including ezines): A great way of keeping in regular touch with your customers. Ezines (email newsletters) are low cost and have grown in popularity – but should be produced at least once a month to maintain good communications. One effective solution is to use short introductory paragraphs to stories, with links to longer articles for those who are interested.
- Blogs: Join the 21st century and write a regular blog! Low cost (in fact, virtually no cost) method of sharing your ideas and showing your capabilities in an informal way. Blogs attached to high traffic websites can also boost your SEO rankings (i.e. search engines such as Google will find your site more easily).
Most businesses will use a combination of these methods to achieve a range of aims. What’s the best blend for YOUR company?
By Phil Allcock, freelance copywriter