Finding the effective tools to communicate with customers

What do you think is the most effective way to communicate with your consumers? LinkedIn question by: Fang Lu

This is a very broad question, for which there’s no one-line answer! In marketing communications planning, the tools to communicate are often the last things to decide. I’d try to give a perspective which might empower you to decide for yourself, the most effective ways to communicate.

Here’s a step-by-step methodology you MUST consider, before deciding upon your various options:

1) Gain a perspective of your battlefield – What’s the business environment you’re in? what’s the product category? Who are your competitors? How are they communicating? Is there anything eye-catching about their tools? Is there anything that you think is not right about them? Is there any rule or law that encourages or discourages certain type of communication? etc. More the knowledge you gain about your marketing battlefield, more empowered will you be in making your decision.

2) Gain differential knowledge of your product – By this I mean the strengths and opportunities your product have / offer, vis-a-vis competitors. Does your product really enjoy an exclusivity? Or is it s me-too? Does it really force customers to think different, or is it just a “better” product? Is it a category killer? Is it a price killer? Is it a market innovator? etc. etc. More the knowledge you have on your own product within the given market perspective, more empowered will you be in deciding on the effective message, which incidentally is as important as the tools to communicate.

3) Gain insights about your customers – This is the most crucial of all steps. In social media, it’s a part of the LISTENING process. Who’s your ideal customer (not “consumers”)? What’s his / her demographic and psychographic profile? How does he / she consume your proposed product? Is there any gap area, which still exists in his / consumption pattern? What are his/her hidden motivations, desires, ambitions? if you do not have a ready knowledge about him/her, you may need to have a Qualitative Research to find these out. Once done, you’d have more clearer indications about ways to communicate with your customer.

4) Develop key messages – All the above 3 steps would give you enough perspective to draw the unique product message that would make sense to your customer(s) within the battlefield of your product category and competition. Every type of message has its own best / optimal ways of communicating, for effective comprehension by the customers. For example, some messages are better delivered by means of an Audio Visual (TVC) while some by means of a web banner ad.

5) Identify the effective tools to communicate – Once you’re done with developing key messages and insights about customers, you may need to re-explore the current means by which the customers gain their product / market knowledge. You may realize from step (3) that though a net-gen individual falls within your customer profile, is actually not interested in using the websites reviews for product knowledge. Rather he/she is getting this info. through his closely held cafe-club network. So your most ideal tool could be perhaps a cafe-club event that engages these captive customers for about an hour and a half!

Therefore, to reiterate, effective communication tools / ways cannot be decided unless you explore steps (1) to (4) above. Not to forget that you can also consider any kind of “co-creation” tool before-hand (during steps 1-3), to let your customers decide the ways and means they would like themselves to be addressed by your company / brand.

Given the complex and ever-changing nature of the customers today, it’s natural and more effective to design a communications plan, which makes use of a combination of tools and media consumed by your customers.

Also look for Other Answers in LinkedIn. and Strategies for Effective Business Communication

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About shantanu.sengupta
I'm a passionate Strategic Marketing professional who deeply understands the interplay of Technology, Collaboration and Design that drives brand innovation and growth in a post-recession world today. I believe that marketing solutions cannot be found by referring to historical case studies, esp. since no two marketing problems are the same. As a result, instead of adhering to a jargonised approach to marketing, I follow Design Thinking principles, challenge existing norms and processes, and search for innovative ways to solve marketing problems. I specialize in developing and implementing marketing and communication strategies across B2C and B2B channels, with a clear focus on brand development and customer engagement that increases future brand value.

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